Though I’ve moved many times in my life, a vast majority of the moves were between dorm rooms, apartments, and rooms shared
in rental houses while in college. So although I moved a lot, I didn’t have the added stress of finding friends and feeling as though I belonged because that feeling never really went away.
Now that I’m an adult and a parent, however, the threat of “starting over” is constantly over my head. And of course, now that I’m not in school, making friends is a bit more difficult. Add to that the inconvenience and stress of locating a new doctor, dentist, hairdresser, optometrist, favourite coffee shop, best grocery store, church (if you attend), and all the other things that come with the “new digs” territory. Not to mention finding a place to live…
If you find yourself in this situation, try the following ideas for meeting new people, making new connections, and creating new friendships.
- Church. Whether you find the one you really like on the first try or have to visit half a dozen, you’ll meet new people every time.
- MOPS (Mothers Of PreSchoolers). You can find a local group by checking online, and many places even have more than one, so you can find the one that suits you best.
- Hospital-sponsored Free Mom Groups. Many hospitals offer weekly mom get-togethers with snacks, toys, scales to weigh your baby/child, and free consultation with a nurse/lactation consultant.
- Online Forums with Local Subgroups. Many online mom forums offer the option of becoming a member of subgroups, allowing you to find those who share your interests. Oftentimes there are groups based on physical location, and the group plans playdates, coffee dates, etc. One such website is babycenter.com.
- Church-sponsored Events. Even if you don’t attend church, you can still find out what activities local churches are offering for parents of young children. Many churches host events to which community members are invited, so call local church offices for a list of events, or check out their websites.
- YMCA. Find the nearest YMCA or YWCA and get a list of their events. Often they will host walking, swimming or workout events geared toward parents with young children.
- “Girls’ Night” with Coworkers. If there’s anyone you click with at work, try setting up a girl’s night with them, and encourage them to bring their friends. Go out to dinner, get a pedicure together, get drinks, do some shopping…whatever suits your personality. It will not only score you a new friend or two, but it will also make work that much more enjoyable. And even if you don’t click with the people you work with, you might click with one of their friends, and as one woman on my mommy forum said, “It’s not friend-stealing, it’s networking!”
- Classes. Find a local Jazzercise, dance, or Zumba class, sign up for second language, automotive, or belly dancing classes at a local community college, or attend gardening or remodeling workshops at a local hardware store or plant nursery. Some churches offer financial workshops or other various lessons (it depends on what the members are into) such as quilting, cooking, photography, music, woodworking, scrapbooking, and others. You get time away from home to be you (take a break from being “Mommy” for a while), learn something in the process, and meet new people with interests similar to yours.
- Volunteer. Search for volunteering options through your local colleges and universities, or hunt for the local chapter of your favourite non-profit. Those you serve and those you work with may just turn out to be a soul mate.
- Libraries and Book Stores. Many have toddler time where they can play and read/look at books, and sometimes even meet a costumed book character. While the kids are read to, the moms and dads can chit-chat.
- Craigslist. Mom groups and get-togethers are often coordinated on this free website. Or you can coordinate your own parent get-together via Craigslist.
- Toy Store Fliers. Check local toy stores and other kid-oriented places for play-date and mommy group fliers.
- Playgrounds and Public Pools. Take your kid(s) to various parks and, if you’re outgoing, strike up conversations with the other parents there.
- Befriend a Connector. Identify someone around you who seems to know just about everyone in town, and befriend them. Likely they’re sanguine and will be happy to add you to their (theoretical) “list” of friends, and you will almost certainly meet other people through this individual. Perhaps even more than you have time to get to know!
- Keep an Open Mind. No matter where you go or what you do, there’s an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Even if you don’t think it will happen, or aren’t sure there’s anyone you’ll like, go into it with a positive mindset and the outcome may be surprising.