Popularity, by its own definition, is an elusive, fickle, and fleeting condition attained by few and sought by all. Its allure influences our behavior from the budding moments of socialization when the desire to be popular overrides common sense.

Fortunately, our psyches evolve as we get older and so does the criteria for being popular. What once got a girl fast-tracked to the cool table in the lunchroom doesn’t count for much now that she’s the lunch lady. Just in case you’re still wandering aimlessly with your proverbial tray of nuggets-du-jour, here’s a quick primer in modern popularity for moms.

Lesson 1 – Uphold the rules

(And the law, because prison.) Your goal is to be popular with the parents, not the kids. No one likes the mom who lets kids come over and act like they’re staying at Hedonism II or eat themselves sick on junk food and Coke until five in the morning. It undermines other parents’ authority and makes our sleepovers seem boring by comparison.

Lesson 2 – RSVP once in a damn while

Is it really that big of a burden to let another mom know whether or not your little darling is going to grace the party with his presence? The other mom doesn’t want you to call and chat, believe me. She hates talking on the phone as much as you do, but a four-word text would be nice. Remember, however much you loath taking your kid to a birthday party, there is a mom who had to plan, supervise, clean up, and pay for it who loathes it WAY more.

Lesson 3 – Drive a big car with lots of cup holders and seat belts

The days of driving your way to instant popularity with a sporty, two-seat convertible with bucket seats and a one-star crash-test safety rating are long, long gone. Now, the more kids you can haul to the movies, or the park, or Cedar Pointe (if you really want to score big), the more popular you will be. Bonus points for taking an extra kid or two with you on vacation.

Lesson 4 – Reciprocate

If you’ve reaped the benefits of Lesson 3 more times than you can recall, it’s your turn to spell the other moms. No one insists you keep it even-Steven, but good-will dries up faster than Play-Doh when it’s always one-sided. Bite the bullet and concede to spend a weekend in your minivan serving up Go-gurts and Smartpop to a thankless crowd of imps. Also, make an appointment to get your car detailed the following week.

Lesson 5 – Go easy on the offspring promo

We all have kids. We all love our kids and are proud of them for their accomplishments, big or small. That’s a given. We also realize that your kids are the result of half of your DNA, so when you brag endlessly about them you’re really half-bragging about yourself. And that’s not cool. (Unless they’re adopted, like mine, then you get a little slack.)

Keep this in mind before you make your next braggadocios Facebook post. The day your kid comes home with her honor roll report card is the same day someone else’s comes home with a big *FALLS BELOW DISTRICT LIMITS FOR GRADE LEVEL* stamped across the top. Popular moms don’t make other moms feel bad about having mediocre kids.

Lesson 6 – For the love of Lucy, STOP competing

You already won. Or maybe I did. Or maybe we tied, but we are NO LONGER COMPETING. You see, the problem with competition is that, by its very nature, only one person wins and everybody else loses. We can’t all win – unless we’re playing youth soccer, then everybody wins – but we can all learn something from each other.

Please don’t worry if you’re still skinny and taut, with a knack for cleaning and a husband who’s aging like George Clooney. You can still be popular despite all that. You just won’t be popular because of it.

Lesson 7 – Pull your weight at the class parties

Sure, we all know whoever signs up first gets to pick what they bring, but ask yourself: Is it really fair to bring plates and napkins to every holiday gig for six years straight? Think about the other moms who are stuck with the fruit plate, or have to decorate cookies, or (worse) have to come up with a craft. If you want to be popular, don’t hog the easy picks at the open house.

That’s the end of the beginners’ lesson primer. The rest is up to you. Be nice, be approachable, be the mom who makes other moms feel good. Practice what you’ve learned here, and popularity is guaranteed.