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Back-to-school: How to deal with mom cliques

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

The new mom at school

You’re not the only one intimidated by mom cliques in the schoolyard. Discover tips for breaking into mom groups at the beginning of the school year.

Learn why you shouldn't be too quick to assume a tight-knit group is unwelcoming. Before long, you’ll be looking forward to school drop-off.

Finding mom friends is like dating without the ease of going to a bar or a singles meet-up. When the new school year starts, don't be intimidated by established groups of mom friends. Cliques exist, but they're usually not a bad thing. Learn how to introduce yourself and make new friends with the other moms at your child's school.

Be open and understanding

"With any group perceived as a clique, memories come flooding back of feeling left out in middle and high school," says Elayne Savage, Ph. D. "Try to separate the then from the now. I call it walking alongside yourself, getting enough distance from the situation to be able to make some choices about how you want to respond." When you make a conscious effort not to take things personally, it may be easier to find ways to be included and make new friends. Try not to see a close-knit group of friends as a threat. Instead, consider the benefits of a group, and remind yourself that you'd like to participate in a group of friends for the same reasons they do.

Volunteer at school

School functions are a great way to meet other parents. Volunteer your time on planning committees, class parties, events and field trips. During a structured activity, it's easier to make small talk and get to know parents you may not have otherwise talked to. When you're contributing your time and talents, it's a way of sharing who you are as a person and what you have to share with a group. It's human nature to expect a give-and-take in friendships, so it's perfectly normal to want to show what you can contribute as a friend and to an established group of friends.

Try these 5 steps to a better social life >>

Arrange play dates

No matter how well you hit it off with another mom, it's important that your kids get along. This is especially true if you want to spend time together with children in tow. When you're just starting to get to know another mom, focus on getting your kids together. It's easier to suggest a play date than it is to suggest going out for coffee. Meet at a neutral zone, like a playground, and see how things go. If you drive your child to school, casually ask other parents if there are any established playground play dates you could join in on.

Discover top tips for making new friends as an adult >>

Find common ground

If you're struggling to make friends or you feel left out because your schedule or lifestyle differs from other parents, ask your child's teacher for advice. Your child's teacher may be able to suggest another parent to connect with. It's often easier to connect on the basis of common ground, whether you have kids with similar interests, you have similar interests yourself or you're both new to the school or community.

More back to school

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10 Tips for getting kids out the door
5 Tips for beating back to school blues

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