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Do you get invited to parties and play dates all the time? When you have a day off coming up, what do you look forward to doing? If you were to ask my children, the answer would be “Yep, let’s party. I want to go to the beach or go to the park with my friends.” But for me when someone says, “It’s a long weekend, what are you planning?,” all I can think about is getting the laundry done, reading a book or watching a movie at home (where I have the option to stop the movie when I need a snack or bathroom break).

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I realize my children crave interaction and I want to support that, but it doesn’t come easily to me. It’s just not in my nature to enjoy big crowds or times when I have to hang out and socialize. So what’s a mom to do? I’ve found that sometimes I have to push beyond my comfort zone and do those things for the good of my children, even if it means that I might not have an enjoyable time. I know those moments could be the memories that they remember later in life and look back on with appreciation. So keeping that in mind, here are some of the tactics that I have picked up over the years to make these outings happen successfully.

1. Bring Dad or another adult. Having someone with you who is an extrovert can help, especially if they know you’re not good in these situations.

2. Make a plan. For example, if after 30 minutes or an hour I’m still uncomfortable then we can leave but at least we showed up.

3. Have a purpose. Bringing a camera so that you can capture the moment will give you a sense of what to do when you don’t have someone to engage with.

4. Compromise with yourself. I am going to do this for my kids, then I get to do something that I love to do later.

>> Read more: How I Lost Myself (And Found My Way Back)

5. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Tell yourself that you are doing the best you can for you and your family and, at the end of the day, that is what matters most.

Every family is different and finding what works for yours is important. We are always growing and changing together!