Meeting mom friends is hard. If you’re lucky enough to already hang out with a group of people who are in synch with you in terms of life plans and stages, you can glide right into Mom-Friendshipland on your silken sails none the worse for the wear; the rest of us, however, have to muddle along the best we can. If you’re looking for places to meet awesome mom friends, I can’t really help you — but I can tell you where not to go hunting.

1. The gym.

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Everyone else in all your classes will be a.) a 19-year-old college student visiting in between classes, b.) dudes, or c.) 60-something retired ladies whose kids are long grown. Don’t get me wrong, the older ladies are way cooler than you and know everything there is to know about raising kids, but they’re not going to let you hang with them until you figure out your push-up game like they have.

2. The pediatrician’s office.

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Picking up mom friends in your doctor’s waiting room makes you the mom version of an ambulance chaser. Plus, does that kid have chickenpox? Ack — steer clear.

3. The bar.

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There are undoubtedly lots of cool moms at your favorite local bar or pub. The first problem is that identifying them is difficult out in the wild like this, and the second problem is that you’re asleep by 9:30 PM, weeknight or weekend alike.

4. The park.

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You can try to strike up a conversation with a friendly-seeming mom with kids around your child’s age if you want. But you’re taking a gamble that she’s not going to call CPS about how neglectful you’re being by chatting instead of stopping your kid from eating bugs or putting grass in his diaper.

5. Public playgroups.

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In a large gathering, there is always going to be a mom who is cooler than you. Possibly several moms. In my case, probably all the moms. You can’t compete for mom friends when you’re being outshone by That Cool Mom. Also, sometimes these turn out to be a cover for people to sell you Yoonique or doTerra.