by Jessica Wilder
Moving to a new city and state can be exciting, but terrifying when you don’t know anyone. In our case, my husband, our almost two-year-old, and I (8 months pregnant) packed up and moved 8 hours away to South Bend, Indiana. Moving itself is hard enough, but add in finding a house, new doctor to deliver with, childcare for our son, and all the other things that come along with a big move was quite overwhelming. Besides staying organized (one of my favorite things), I knew for my sanity I had to take action. I had never moved away from my home state of Tennessee before, and I wanted to make the best of it.
Get Connected. One of the first things on our agenda was to get connected. We found for us this meant finding a church. Luckily, we loved the first one we visited and it slowly started to feel like home. After our baby was born and we got the hang of having two kids, we decided to get involved in a small group at our church. This is where we found other couples to connect with. Our kids got to play and we had some adult conversation, as a couple, which was important to us. These new friends quickly became our Indiana family. These were people we could call for advice or help, someone to watch our boys so we could have a much needed date night, or company when you miss home and family.
Another way that I’ve used to connect is Facebook groups. There is a great group in our area for moms called Michiana Mommies. It’s a great way to ask questions about where to take your littles, find doctors in the area, get advice, and everything in between. It has been a great tool for a newbie!
Get Involved. I had heard from a friend how much she enjoyed being involved in a program called MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). Being a new stay at home mom, I was excited to find our local chapter and get started. I was a little apprehensive walking into a room full of moms I didn’t know, but soon this group of ladies became my friends – my safe haven. I learned quickly that we’re all very much alike, with the same struggles and sense of humor. I remember calling my own mother after that first meeting and being overcome with joy. I told her that it was the one thing I never knew I was missing in my life until that day.
The way MOPS is set up, you meet usually once every two weeks and sit at the same table with the same group of ladies all year. It was great to come in and see the same familiar faces week after week. Being new to South Bend, I was able to find comfort in these new friendships and learn about the city at the same time. We even met outside of MOPS to have play dates and a couple’s date night.
But don’t worry if you are not a Mother of a Preschooler because there are plenty of organizations that are focused on moms and families or all ages. StrollerStrides or other fitness classes, Church Groups and school PTA are all great places to get involved.
Get a Job. OK, OK that may sound a little harsh. Let me explain. Being new to the SAHM idea, I knew that I wanted to take my time transitioning back into the workforce. I am so thankful that our situation allowed me to do so. By the time our youngest son was 6 months old I was ready to do something – something with my mind, my creative abilities, something to keep me sane.
You know they say it’s about who you know. Well, it really is. I found two part time gigs through MOPS. One was on a flyer that a cosmetic consultant had dropped off at a meeting. She was looking for someone to head up her marketing and social media. It was a perfect fit. The second was a position as a local representative for an au pair agency where I got to choose my own hours, meet the sweetest girls from around the world, and plan events. A friend in MOPS who had the position was moving to a new city herself and knew I’d love it. After a few interviews, the job was mine.
If you aren’t ready for a “job” in the regular-hours-set-schedule and pay sense then consider volunteering. Every community has a variety of non-profit organizations that would love to help you get involved. Love animals? What about an Animal Shelter? Passion for helping the less fortunate? Can you volunteer at soup kitchen? Whatever your passion, try to find a way to volunteer your services. You can help people and make new friends.
These two things have been a true blessing to me and my family. I feel like having these creative outlets have allowed me to be a better wife and mother. If you’re feeling a void in this area, a great place to start is joining the MomSource Network. They take the guesswork out of finding the perfect position, with the perfect hours, not to mention opportunities to meet other moms in your area, classes on varies topics, and family events.
Moving to a new city isn’t the end of the world. There are ways to make the transition easier on you and your family. The most important thing you can do is reach out. Put your fears aside, hold your head up high, and know that we’re all more alike than we realize.