Motherhood can be really lonely, especially if you’re in a town that’s not originally your home. You want to get out and make friends, but the thought of finding your way around as this new “mommy” person you’ve become can be overwhelming. Plus the logistics of taking the kids and all their stuff along… phew! I’m tired just thinking about it.
I’ve been there.
I’ll be writing a more detailed guide soon about all of the types of places you can go, and the logistics of getting out alone with the kids, but I have to credit the fact that I did those things to having a fun group of moms and kids to explore those places with.
I live in New Jersey, but I’m not originally from here. When my oldest turned one, I started looking for play groups. I ended up finding an awesome one on Meetup, for moms that don’t have family nearby. It was a genius concept for a group, because we can relate to the unique challenges of visiting family out of state and taking care of kids without being able to rely on family as built in babysitters. Plus, there are a lot of moms in New Jersey that aren’t from here originally, looking for other moms to connect with.
After the group organizer split up the group, we continued to keep in touch through Facebook and now it feels like a little community. Like a slice of home.
Find “Your People” in a Mom Group
As I’m thinking about how I not only survived, but thrived at different stages of motherhood in the first five years, having a group of moms to hang out with, definitely played a major role.
I could probably elaborate on this in a separate post, but start by looking for groups on Meetup, by searching Facebook, or looking through more formal group directories likeMOPS (Moms of Preschoolers). We also have a lot of “twin” moms in our group who are also involved in Moms of Multiples Clubs that have local chapters and national organizations you can sometimes find on Google.
If you can’t find one, start your own.
Do Your Research
Another way I learned a lot about my area was through internet research.
- Look up your area on Google Maps and make a note of large green areas (parks) to check out. Then work your way through to find the ones you like best.
- Also, visit the town website or the state parks and recreation departments. A lot of these are out of date, so get what you can from them and then think about picking up the phone and calling to clarify things you still need more information on.
- Use Google to find out where people with kids hang out. Look for indoor play places, parks, and even restaurants like Chick-fil-A that do events or have a playground.
- Visit the tourist bureau or visitor’s center for your town and ask about family friendly places there. Then go check them out for yourself.
- The library is your best friend! Most offer story times and events that parents bring kids to. You can also ask there about other places to check out or clubs they might know about.
- Bookstores, like Barnes and Noble, also host story times.
- Google or look for classes too, like those at Little Gym, My Gym, Gymboree, or Music Together and at least take advantage of the free trial classes.
- Look for kids clubs too. We have one at our mall and also at both Lowes and Home Depot. Toys R Us also offers Lego Clubs and Michael’s has Make and Take Workshops. You can find out about all of these by visiting the company websites or calling your individual store.
- Another place to find great information is from a “hyper-local” blog site that lists free and low cost events for families.
If you find yourself in a new place, here are some more ways to make it feel like home:
Give your town a chance.
- I used to travel 30-45 minutes away because I thought that there was nothing to do in my town. When I made a conscious effort to look for things to do, I found plenty of opportunity right in my own backyard.
- Go for a drive and get lost. Really. Give yourself some time to drive around and get lost. This is a fun way to get your bearings and it’s usually pretty hard to get completely lost these days. You can always check Google Maps or turn your GPS back on if it gets hopeless. Just make sure you have a full tank of gas and if the kids are with you, plenty of snacks. Knowing the back roads is a sure sign of being a local, so figure them out as soon as possible.
- Make a habit of smiling and saying hello to people you see everyday. When I first moved here, we lived next to a small store I went to every morning for coffee. If you go to the same place everyday, the employees will start to recognize you and maybe even start making your order as you walk in the door. The same thing happens to my husband when he goes to Wawa before work every day.
- The same thing goes for smiling and saying hello at the park. Ask open ended questions to encourage conversation.
- If you hit it off with someone, make sure to get either
- get their phone number
- connect on Facebook
- or make plans to hang out again before you leave the park.
It might feel strange asking, but no one has said no yet. Maybe they are trying to get up the courage to ask you the same. Just do it. The worst they can say is no.
- Ask people you meet at story times and the park if they are in, or know of any local groups, and they might be able to point you to a wonderful way to get involved in your community and meet new people.
The more you get out and do in your community the more you will start to feel like you belong there. Keep your eyes open for people you can connect with who might be new too and explore together, or show them the ropes.
I hope these tips inspire you to feel at home where you are, instead of wishing you were someplace else.