Every mom is different, and every mom handles parenting in her unique way. We can learn a lot from our fellow moms — including that while none of us are doing it wrong, all of us can use a helping hand from time to time. Wondering about the best ways to help out a working mom? Well, for starters, put aside your assumptions and preconceived notions. Every mom is the victim of parenting stereotypes that are total BS (some of them being that stay-at-home moms spend their days at the gym, or that working mothers don’t care about raising their kids).

Next up, make an effort to get to know all of your fellow moms, and not just the ones who are available for weekday play dates and class trips. Because she’s not available to participate in some of these getting-to-know-you events, a working mom may feel left out of what the other mothers are doing. Making time to hang out with a mom who feels a little out of the fray is awesome on so many levels. You’ll make a new friend, get to talk about different approaches to parenting and you’ll be able to ascertain what areas you might be able to make your new pal’s life a little bit easier. Finally, be clear with your motives: you want to help because that’s what friends do, and not because you think the children of working moms are charity cases who need every bit of help they can get. So if you see a working mom in need of a helping hand — and there are plenty definitions for that term — here are nine ways you might be able to help her out.

1. Be A Cheerleader

Instead of asking potentially passive-aggressive questions, be your friend’s biggest fan. If you feel like she’s terrific at juggling work and motherhood, tell her so. She gets hit with plenty of negative addendum throughout the day — a word of encouragement will go a long way.

2. Be Specific

If you really want to assist your working pal, be specific when you offer to help out. Asking her to tell you how she can help is nice, but can come off as a hallow offer with no real meaning. Instead, say “Wow, it sounds like Tuesdays are really stressful for you. I’d be happy to have Junior over for dinner at our place on Tuesday nights.”

3. Host A Playdate

Play dates with parents in attendance are good for the moms, not just the kids. But even if the kids play while she's at work, there are lots of benefits to be had. For one, your child will be thrilled with the company. And knowing there's a day or two a week when her child is having fun with a buddy could make a huge difference to a working mom.

4. Allow For Quid Pro Quo

You are offering to help out your working mom friend for a lot of very cool reasons, like the whole idea that moms should support each other and provide love, encouragement, and support. If your friend offers to watch your kid on the weekend, or to drop off your library books on her way to work, let her. Don’t say insensitive and inappropriate stuff like, “But you’re so busy” or “You don’t have time to host a play date.” Just say thank you. A working mother is a mother who works, so let her feel like part of a functioning friendship and not like an outlet for volunteer work.

5. Share A Meal

Before you start putting together jars of your famous homemade spaghetti sauce to give away, first assess if there’s a need. For all you know, your friend’s partner is a four-star chef who has a hot, nutritious meal ready to eat every night. But once you know that your pal isn’t, in fact, married to Gordon Ramsey, feel free to pass along a jar of that sauce, a tupperware container filled with homemade cookies, or an invite to dinner at your place.

6. Volunteer To Run An Errand

So, you’re going to Costco, you lucky duck. While you don’t have to do shopping for two families, it’s always nice to put an offer out there to pick up one or two extra-helpful items.

7. Take Their Kid To School

Mornings can be tough on any mom, not just the working ones. But for a mother who has to juggle the commute to school and arrive to work on time, the morning hours can be especially hard. If you and your child go the same route to school as your friend, consider offering to take her little one along with you one or two mornings a week.

8. Be An Extra Pair Of Eyes and Ears

If you have time to volunteer at your child’s school, be the eyes and ears for a parent who can’t. That means sharing fun anecdotes from a class trip (“It was so cute the way the kids were petting the bunnies at the farm.”) and info about the classroom ("The teacher is doing a great job with the science fair.") But avoid saying something that’s going to make your working mom friend feel bad, like reminding her that her child missed her.

9. Host A Mom's Night Out

Moms love play dates, as it gives them the chance to talk while the little ones play. But working moms might miss out on these kind of get-togethers, so offer to catch up over drinks or dinner during a moms-only night out? Invite other moms whom your friend might not know. It’ll help your friend feel more connected, and — come on, it’ll be super fun.

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