Tampa Bay is a pretty transient area and people are moving in and out all of the time. Add small kids to the mix and it’s even more intimidating. This was me a few years ago. I stood in front of my new home with no friends, no community, no sense of direction. Literally. Everything is new and you’re searching for anything that sounds, looks or appears familiar. Originally from Chicago, I swear anytime I meet someone from Chicago it’s like I’ve hit the jackpot in Vegas. Ding, ding, ding!! Another Chicagoan! That feeling of comfort and someone that I can relate to is priceless.
Going into our 2nd move, I knew it would take a moment to get settled. It’s never easy. Meeting new people, getting involved in the community, introducing yourself to the neighbors, finding friends for your kids, making friends for yourself. Working full-time didn’t give me much free time to take my son to the library or hang out at the neighborhood pool and meet people. As most new moms can relate, motherhood is a whole new world where you don’t know right from wrong and have a lot of questions. It’s an emotional journey, but my first time around I had friends and family to support me during the early weeks and months. So when my 2nd was born, I knew I wanted to find a moms group for support and being on maternity leave was the perfect opportunity!
So I did it. I said YES to a Moms Group.
Don’t roll your eyes and don’t be scared. Moms groups have a lot of advantages when you’re new in town or to the mom scene. Don’t get me wrong – I was skeptical at first. Insert every self-doubting question here… but what I learned quickly is that we moms NEED other moms to get through sleepless nights and endless days. We NEED to get out of the house, we NEED to have adult conversations and we NEED to have our kids enjoy other kids (selfishly, so WE get a break). So I put aside the fears and took a leap.
Where I started…
A new friend introduced me to a local moms meet up group and I braved my first “event”. Feeling scared and vulnerable, I left my new baby at home with Dad and ventured out to a playgroup with my toddler. I am not one of those people that find it easy to talk to others. In fact, I can be very quiet and feel like an introvert although most people that know me would probably never think that. But finding a moms group is quite possibly the best thing I did that summer. I branched out. Like most things, it was scary at first. I consider myself to be a confident person, but the articles and posts of “mommy wars” crept in the back of my mind.
What I found…
I met other moms. A mix of working moms and SAHMs… some I could relate to and some I couldn’t, but enjoyed the friendships and play dates. I’m here to tell you, yes, it’s possible to have a positive experience with a moms group! I’ve read so much negativity about moms groups, but I couldn’t disagree with them more. Finding a group truly helped me get settled into a new place, brought me unexpected friendships in my adult life, and helped make Tampa feel like home.
Not all moms groups are created equal, but the key is finding a group that fits you. Keep searching until you find a group that feels right. Don’t be afraid. Ok, easier said then done. But you have to make the effort to meet others. Go to a few events, have your kids play with other kids and see if there’s a connection. Don’t give up. After all, you’re all probably there for many of the same reasons. Don’t forget that. And when you find a moms group that’s for you- – you’ll know. It’ll be a group of women that you’re happy to be around (and when you leave – motherhood isn’t a competition – heck, it’s all about survival for me). And if the husbands get along too, then it’s really a homerun!
New in town? Start here:
- Search Facebook for local moms groups in your neighborhood
- Meet Up
- Local church or community center
- Tampa Bay Moms Blog Neighborhood Groups
And of all else fails, start your own! The reality is, there are moms out there seeking friendship, a safe place to vent or get out of the house, friends for their kids, friends for their husbands, and friends for themselves! JUST LIKE YOU! Once I started meeting other moms and those moms turned into friends… the “new, scary, doesn’t feel like home” place actually started to feel like home. I’m so thankful I said YES to a moms group.