Did you know there are apps to make mom-friends? Instead of going on dates to find a compatible partner, you are mom speed dating to find your ultimate mommy friend match. No, I’m not lying. This is definitely a thing, and I’m not mad about it. Want to know why? Because making friends is hard. I’m not talking about the acquaintances that you talk to in line when you drop your kids off at preschool or the ones you have small talk with while watching your kids dance or play baseball every Wednesday night.
I’m talking about friends you trust enough to put down as an emergency contact; who you text while watching the latest episode of your favorite trash TV series. This gets even harder when you add in the fact that, as a military mom, you will only be around for a few years.
I was born and raised in one city, and I had the same friends from elementary school through college. Then, I met that handsome man in uniform and making friends became a priority. I knew from the beginning that it was going to be tough.
Every few years we move, and I find myself lurking behind the bushes at the park trying to spot my next prey … I mean, best friend. Of course, I’m not quite that creepy, but I can’t say I haven’t done something close to that. Here are some things I have learned that I think will help when you move somewhere new and think, ‘now what?’
Get out of the house
Yes, your baby may sleep a lot, or your toddler may throw fits that make your head explode, but getting out of the house is crucial. This may be as simple as walking around your neighborhood with your kiddos. You never know, there could be another mom walking as well. Check your local library for toddler playgroups, join a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group, find a stroller workout group, or check out some churches to see if they have parenting classes. If you make getting out and discovering your new surroundings a priority, you are sure to find something (or someone) that clicks.
Make a move
Start talking! That mom you spotted earlier in the park? If she seems like someone you could connect with, talk to her! Start with the stuff that every new girl needs to know: best salon, schools, restaurants, etc. This goes for the organized groups like MOPS or fitness groups. These situations can often be intimidating since there are a lot of women, many of whom may know each other. However, there are very few moms who will say they have too many friends, so introduce yourself and start there!
Side note: Sometimes you won’t click. There may be a time when the mom makes it clear that she isn’t looking for friends, or sometimes you may see that she is simply not for you. That’s OK! Just like dating back in the day, move on!
Get her digits
Am I writing about dating or friendship? I’m a little confused, too, but the fact that there are now friendship apps makes me think this is the norm. If you seem to have things in common and think your kids would have fun together, grab her number and plan a playdate. As much as you need friends, your kids will be thankful for the interaction, too. Don’t get stuck not knowing when you will see her again – connect!
Make plans without the kids
This, my friends, is when you really know if you have an emergency contact kind of friend. It’s called Moms’ Night Out, and it’s kind of a big deal. Dinner and drinks without having to eat your food like you are in a hotdog eating competition because you never know when your child’s limit has been reached is glorious. Not to mention, you get to change out of clothes that you may have been wearing for the past few days that have dried boogers and food on them. I could go on forever about this step. You get to connect with someone on a level you may not have experienced in a LONG time because your days are filled with chasing little ones. The dinner and drinks are totally optional. You could do something as simple as mani/pedi or lunch date, but whatever it is, it is needed!
Before I call it a wrap, I want to mention something I have learned from this whole making friends thing. When I was new to this, I wanted to find women just like me. That’s all I had ever known; same background, same age, same interests, same dislikes. The most valuable thing I have learned since then — those things don’t matter. Sure, you want some things in common, but the differences make the friendship beautiful. You get to listen to their stories and start to figure out why they are who they are. You get to laugh, cry, and talk about struggles and feel accepted. Do you see a pattern here? It’s all about acceptance. Accepting the good, the bad, and the ugly. Moving every few years, THIS is what’s important — those quality friendships that will last after the goodbyes are said. You’ll never get there unless you start with “number one,” get out there and find your tribe at the new place you call home!