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9 Ways to Socialize Baby If You're a Work-at-Home Mom

Just the other day, I blogged about my daughter's playdate fail: On her very first play ate with a baby she'd met months ago—actually, her very first playdate ever—she began bawling as soon as the other baby squealed her hello.

Obviously, I feel responsible for this. As a WAHM who is trying to simultaneously care for her daughter while juggling clients, neither of us has very many opportunities for human interaction.

What this playdate made clear, however, was that I have to try harder.

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Still, since I find most day care options to be unaffordable—and since I already struggle to take breaks during the work day so Em can, at the very least, for the love of god, interact with me—I know I'm going to have to get creative.

So here we have it. Nine alternative ways to socialize your child when you're a WAHM with no paid childcare and life is impossible:

1. Exploit the Fact that Your Child's Grandparents Are Madly in Love with Her

This was actually my one concession when I realized that simultaneously working and watching Em was going to be super-duper hard. I swallowed my (rapidly diminishing) pride and asked my mom and mom-in-law if they could each help out a few hours a week. Thank God our families live close by. I am truly #blessed.

2. Very Sporadically Attend Mommy & Me Activities

When I first had Em, I went to weekly Mommy & Me Yoga classes. I went to two regular new mom groups, plus a third for people with postpartum depression. I tried Mommy & Me Storytime at my local independent bookstore. After a while, though, it began to feel as if I had too many obligations on an already full plate. My advice? Go once every few months. Your baby may not build lasting friendships, but at least it will never feel boring.

3. Attend a Random, Awkward Meetup in a Nearby Park

I'm an introvert who also has social anxiety. So I was really going above and beyond when I ventured out to a new mom meet-up at my local park. Unfortunately, only one other person showed up. I winced my way through the awkwardness for an hour and a half before calling mercy and heading home.

4. Schedule the Occasional Playdate

During my new mom support group blitz in the early months of motherhood, I exchanged contact information with only one person. And this person was not a WAHM, so it was difficult to find a date and time that worked for both of us. Which is actually ideal when life is overwhelming and the thought of one more weekly obligation makes you want to curl up into a ball and cry.

5. Run Errands Together and Chat with Strangers

The first time I took the baby out to Target, I felt like a moving target in an action-packed, explosion-filled video game. "Awww ... how old is she?" strangers would ask, moving toward me at an alarming speed. "Two weeks!" I would shout, over my shoulder, without breaking stride, maneuvering away from them as quickly as I could. Another time, while waiting to fill a prescription at CVS, an old man walked up and started patting Em on the head. It took every ounce of restraint I had to resist tackling him to the ground and running away. Now I actively invite conversation with complete strangers because, if we are out and about, it's likely we haven't interacted with another human being in days.

6. Take Him to Other Baby Showers

I loathe baby showers. Especially baby showers without booze. That's why I didn't have one. I didn't want to subject anyone else to that slow, cruel torture. Still, occasionally I am invited to one and, for some reason, RSVP "yes." Pro tip: Take your baby. There will be other babies there, providing manifold opportunities for socializing. Then, at the first sign of fatigue on your baby's part, you have a built-in out. NO ONE QUESTIONS YOU WHEN THE BABY IS TIRED.

7. Include Your Baby on Work-Related Conference Calls

I usually wear a headset when conducting work calls but, sometimes, just for funsies, I don't. This gives colleagues ample opportunity to make cooing sounds at my baby when they hear her screaming, and gives my baby the chance to hear voices other than my own.

8. Draw Out the Meter Reader's Visit for an Uncomfortably Long Time

Or the UPS guy's visit. Or your time with the guy who delivers your pizza. Whatever. It doesn't matter. Those two extra minutes your baby experiences with the stranger on the threshold of your home are golden. I actually know my PSEG guy's favorite weather and bring it up in conversation because this is what things have come to.

9. Finally, Allow Your Baby to Be Raised by Your Passel of Cats

The level of excitement my daughter displays when she makes eye contact with our cats eliminates any guilt I might feel over allowing them to be her primary source of conversation. Yes, you can be a crazy cat lady and still maintain a family.

RELATED: Working Mom Guilt Is Exhausting

Image via Twenty20/anna.merry

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