Saturday, October 19, 2013

Settling Into A New Place

When I moved from Wisconsin to Texas for college, or Texas to California for marriage, it was exciting.  I quickly made friends that are still dear to me.  At one time, I had lots of free time for things like going out on the spur of the moment, joining a book club, and spending an entire Saturday exploring local shops and sights.  Then I had twins, resigned from my teaching job, and moved to a city I'd never lived in...twice.  Making friends and becoming comfortable with new surroundings can be hard for anyone, but it's even harder with kids.  And yet that's the time in life when you need a strong support network the most!  Here are some things that have helped me to meet people and navigate new cities.

C'mon D, help mommy pack this stuff up!

  • Be a planner.  After settling on the housing situation, but before the actual move, I would look up the nearest grocery stores, parks, and other things I knew we would need regularly.  I'm visual, so looking at maps helped me create a mental picture of my new neighborhood.  Some long term planning is obvious, such as researching childcare if you work outside the home, or enrolling kids in school if they're older.  Find websites and blogs about your new town.  I also tried to make some kind of plan for our first weekend or week there, something to look forward to and help us feel like part of the community.  This could be something like taking your kids to a local attraction or deciding on a house of worship you'd like to visit, which leads to my next point...
  • Be a joiner.  
    • Multiples Club.  Before you move, go ahead and join the local chapter of Multiples of America, which is formerly known as The National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs.  I think the new name is better because higher order multiples and all parents, not just mothers, have long made use of the organization.  I wish I had joined one when I was pregnant!  Here are some perks of being a member:
      • Get advice from those who have gone before you.  Most larger groups have an online forum for asking and answering questions, and some have a buddy or mentor system for new moms.
      • Join a playgroup with multiples!  Go to parties for multiples!  Twins, triplets and more, as far as the eye can see ;)  
      • Go to meetings that feature interesting speakers.  After running around all day I love just sitting, listening, and learning something.  My local group even provides free dinner!
      • Make friends. 
      • Score gear at a discount!  Most groups have one or two large-scale garage sales a year.  You can buy and sell everything from high chairs to Legos to baby carriers.  My former chapter also had online classifieds for members to sell to one another in between garage sales.  

    • MOPS. Meets every other week during the "school year," with childcare for a reasonable fee (scholarships sometimes available).  You eat, talk with other moms, learn all kinds of new things from relevant speakers, and soak in the encouragement!  Most groups also have playdates for the kids and nighttime get-togethers for parents.    
    • House of worship.  Whatever faith you follow, being with those who are like-minded has a lot of benefits.  We are Christians, so going to church helps us to learn and grow, and to worship God in a group.  But it's also a place where we can develop a community, make friends, find help and support for all kinds of issues, and another good place for socialization for our kids.  And let's be really honest:  once I got over the anxiety of leaving my babies in the nursery, a church service became a wonderful time to sit still and feel refreshed. 
    • Groups.  Before we even moved to our current city I went onto 
      and joined a group.  I found a playgroup for mothers and young kids in our suburban area with multi-racial families.  How much more specific can you get?!  Type in your area and interests.  Want a running club in Madison or a knitting guild in Omaha?  Chances are you'll find a group that suits you.  Once you've been added to a group you can view their event details, such as what park a particular group might be taking their kids to and when.  This was a great way for me to meet some other people right away.  


  • Be an initiator.  Get over thinking people need to approach you, to invite you, or to offer help.  Sometimes they will, and sometimes they'll be too busy or too shy themselves.  I went ahead and knocked on doors in my neighborhood, sometimes with muffins and a double stroller full of twins, and my name and phone number written down to hand off just in case.  I haven't been able to meet all the neighbors yet, but we've already had two return visits of goodies, and every time we forget to close the garage door one my neighbors calls to remind us for safety.  If I meet someone new and we get along, I go ahead and invite them over!  If you're not ready for those things, if you go to a gathering, possibly one of the types I listed above, just start by introducing yourself!  

Last, but not least, I'd like to talk about the workplace.  If you work outside the home, this could actually be a great place to find out things about your new city.  See if it's possible to eat lunch with coworkers and if they have children, ask about their experiences.  They no doubt have lots of advice on quality childcare, schools, commuting routes, good places to take kids on the weekends, etc.  You never know when coworkers can become friends.  I'm still in touch with people I worked with in different cities.  At my former school, there seemed to be a baby boom in the last two years I worked there.  Some of them even managed to coordinate their maternity leaves to help each other out with childcare while one was back at school!    

How did you make yourself at home in a new place?  Feel free to comment suggestions below!


  1. Yeah, it's definitely hard to make new friends whenever you move to the city! However here are some ways that worked for me:

    - When moving to a new city, I make it a goal to find our church home asap and then join the moms group or a couples Bible study. Then once I get familiar with the women, I start inviting them for playdates.

    - Our subdivision HOA, town community center and local library have organized group playdates, storytimes, and other free events for children, so that can be another great way to meet other moms. We have a small park near our house and all the families seem to come out in the early evening to play, so it's a great way to meet neighbors if you don't feel comfortable going to door to door. Our local pool also had baby swim lessons, and we met more neighbors that way too.

    - As for kid-friendly places to go, Pinterest is a good source of info. Asking the other moms from church is also super helpful.

    1. Great suggestions! Definitely a good idea to look into the HOA, local rec center or library. Also, hadn't thought of using Pinterest to find local happenings and places. Thanks Irene!

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