Being a mom can be lonely. Which is weird, because you’re often literally covered in children. But there’s a difference between chatting about poop with your two-year-old and chatting about literature (okay, let’s be honest, poop) with someone your own age.

Now every once in a while, your child will become friends with someone whose mom you really want to be friends with. When this happens, it can be a bit jittery. Kind of like asking someone out on a first date, or attempting to leave the house in under 74 minutes.

Just follow these steps, though, and you’ll have a new mom friend in no time:

Choose the perfect outfit

It’s important to make a good impression. When choosing your ensemble, reach for something that has three or fewer stains. If the stains are almost the same color as what you’re wearing, you can go as high as five. I mean, let’s be honest, no one likes someone who tries too hard.

Be punctual

If you’re planning for a 10 a.m. playdate at the playground, it’s best to start getting ready by 9:30. The night before. If you can swing it, start getting your kids’ shoes on while they’re sleeping. It will save you at least 45 minutes.

Make a path of M&Ms to the car to encourage an on-time departure. If you follow these steps, you will probably arrive by 10:10. Luckily in mom time, “on time” extends to 15 minutes late, so you should still be good.

Don’t fall down

Is this one just me? My children have a penchant for running directly in front of me, below my line of vision, then stopping, so we careen into each other, and then become just a tangle of limbs trying to stay afloat.

Anyway, don’t do that. It’s not smooth. 

Perfect the art of parenting

Now, there are some good things about the playground playdate. The most obvious is you don’t need to spend the panicked hours leading up to the playdate organizing your house and remembering to change the kitty litter, because, wow, how long has the house smelled like cat pee for?  

The downside is you need to find that delicate balance between not helicoptering and not allowing your kids to inflict serious injury on others. Here’s a rough guideline: Is your child throwing a leaf at her brother? That’s probably okay. Is your child throwing her brother at a leaf? Probably time to intervene.

Achieve selective hearing

“Mom. Mom. Mom. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mom. Mom. Mom.” Did you hear that? Is there blood? Then no, you didn’t. Keep listening to your friend-to-be.

Avoid controversial topics

Bribe your children with more M&Ms if they agree not to climb the wrong way up the slide. Climbing up the slide is right up there with sex, politics, and religion in topics to avoid on a first mom date.

Don’t bring snacks

I know this is, like, unheard of in parenting circles. Leave the house without snacks? But guys, snack choice can reveal a lot.

What if you bring bunny crackers and your mom date brings homemade kale chips? Sure, you can emphasize that they’re organic, but you’ll still see the light dim in her eyes.

Ignore that wood chip

Did you get a wood chip lodged painfully in that delicate flesh where the pinky toe meets the underside of your foot. IGNORE IT. No one can see those unpedicured feet unless they’re married to you, and even then, it’s iffy.

Leave em wanting more

There comes a time with all children when the pressure of acting like human beings becomes too much. After that, something deep begins to emerge from inside them and struggles to find its way to the surface. On a good day, it takes an hour for the full beast to emerge.

End the playdate before then.

If you’ve followed all these steps, then congrats! You’re well on your way to finding a new mom friend. Now get in the car quick and get that stupid wood chip out of your foot. Ouch.