By Vanessa H.
My husband and I moved to North Carolina from California a couple months ago. We’ve finally moved all our stuff into our apartment, and now that the dust has settled, I’ve found that my days home alone with our daughter (and barky dog) can be, well, pretty lonely. I hate to say it because there’s this stigma of the word “lonely” and people don’t want to admit it’s happening to them when they feel it. Nevertheless, I’ve felt it and I’ve really had to kick my friendliness into gear so I don’t end up becoming Lonely McLonerson staying at home with my little girl all day. So, if you find yourself in my predicament on the regular or even just sometimes, here are some helpful tips.
1.) Don’t be afraid to join meet-up groups
I found several mom playdate groups on Meetup.com. It’s free to join and some groups are free (others have a minimal cost attached). These groups vary in size, some can be a small group of under 10 people and others have hundreds. The one I just joined has over 200 moms. The reality of the bigness means that it is a little hard to really get to know other moms on any level other than the surface because I don’t always see the same moms at every event. Even so, if you don’t know anyone in your new town, start by joining a meetup group. Sometimes even a short conversation with a stranger can take the sting out of loneliness temporarily.
2.) Check out local churches or community centers
Many cities have free or low-cost, non-profit community parenting classes or support groups. You can find these at places like hospitals, community colleges or city centers to name a few. The most fun mom group I have been part of so far was one at a local church. There were so many moms part of this group that the church offered several classes for different ages: A zero-1 year old class, 1-2 year old class, 2-3 y/o class.. There were about 15 mostly first time moms who came to discuss age related issues (introducing solid food, sleeping patterns, breastfeeding..) Each time offered a space for conversation and friendship building for moms and also playtime and story-time for babies.
Also, check out your local library for story-time events.
3.) Hit Up the Park
The park can be a great place to meet other parents in the neighborhood. Depending on the time of day, you are likely to find other moms (or dads) in your same situation (staying at home and potentially a little lonely). Go out on a limb and invite other parents and babies you meet for another playdate back at the park – or if you’re feeling especially hospitable, at your house.
4.) Don’t lose connection with moms or other friends in your old city.
You know that feeling. The feeling of wanting to dive right into the newness, and quickly start to make the new city your own so that it feels like home fast. You go to the restaurants with high reviews- The ones the neighbors swear is the local favorite. You go to the farmer’s markets and city block parties. Having short conversations with neighbors. All the while, you’re feeling this heaviness, this nagging feeling of wishing people knew you like they do back home. That you didn’t have to share your mini bio everyday with someone new. Longing for that familiar sense of being known and loved and accepted like you were. The secret to this is maintaining friendships from back home. Realistically, you’re not going to stay very close with everyone from your old city (what’s Facebook for, anyway?) but I would venture to say that there are 1-3 people who know you best that you need to make sure you keep in contact with. FaceTime, Skype or regular old phone calls. Do what you have to do to connect with them to remind yourself that there are people who know you and love you.
Know that friendships take time.
I told myself when I moved, it would take a good two years before I really felt connected and part of any community. This has helped take the anxiety and pressure off of forming a new group of friends within the first few months. The truth is that it took years for my closest friends to become my closest friends. Any real friendship or relationship of depth takes hours of quality time spent with one another. Just remember, you will make friends. It’s just going to take some time.
Ladies, how have you made new mom friends? What would you add to this list?
Vanessa lives in North Carolina and is mom to Kennedy. Check out her Baby Love feature here.