Last January, we picked up and moved our little family from the greater Indianapolis area to the greater Tampa Bay area. We have been living the suburban lifestyle for about 10 years now. As we’ve grown older, we found it can be challenging to meet “like-minded” couples who want to make new friends and have new experiences to share with our family. Finding new mom friends or dad friends can be difficult, especially in a new city. Once you become parents, it seems the “great divide” happens. You become people who bring their kids or those who are willing to leave them at home with a sitter. This actually affects so many areas of your life that it can also eliminate a whole group of people who would never consider hanging out with you.
I believe women, mom friends, are the hardest to meet and then nurture into a strong relationship. Especially while we try to balance work, family, the home, extracurricular activities, chauffeuring school pick up and drop offs, doctor appointments, Target runs, Starbucks line, etc.
So when I moved and left my well-earned Indianapolis tribe behind me. I was on the official struggle bus (in my mind). For many reasons, I felt like I would not develop that tribe again here in Tampa. I worried that I wouldn’t meet women I could “be myself” with. On top of that, I felt guilty for even considering “replacing” my friends from Indy. I have been lonely at times and allowed Facebook photos from my Memories feed to haunt my sleepless nights. But, I need women around me to fill up my cup. I love hearing their stories and asking them questions about their lives. Also, I love finding out more about how women tick and enjoy getting to know new women.
Someone once told me that she had “enough” friends and doesn’t “need” to keep finding new ones. Or something like that. I’m probably misquoting but the message is the same. She isn’t someone who wants to make the effort to make new friends (which is totally OK!), but I am the opposite. I love meeting new women, mom friends, and my friends from EVERY facet of my life have value even if we aren’t as close now as we once were. They often don’t know how they made a difference in my life and I would love to sit down sometime and write them all a message of thanks.
I think, the big question is HOW DO WE MAKE NEW MOM FRIENDS? I know it’s not rocket science, but there is definitely some effort, courage and patience involved. I am a let’s do this kind of girl, so when we moved, and I was ready. I dove right in to meeting new people and hoping to find a friend (or two) along the way.
Here are my tips for making new friends in ANY city (goes for the men and couples too!):
Join a Club or Group
May I state the obvious? Be a joiner. And I don’t really mean the gym, only because I think it’s hard to make friends whilst sweating and jogging on a treadmill. I mean a well-intentioned social organization that hosts events (that you are willing to make time to attend). My hubby and I joined the Hunters Green Country Club. They organize golf outings, holiday parties, karaoke night, poker night, book club, etc. They have many levels of membership, one of which is just “social” so you can easily meet new people. I also joined two online mom groups and he participates in a running club. Ultimately, get out there and engage with others who like the same activities you like. There is a club for EVERYTHING!
Get out of the drive-thru and go inside
When we do the “face to face” thing, a huge change occurs. Being in a hurry is fine, but if you want to really make an impact on your personal relationships, you need to slow down to meet people in your community. You might not meet “lifelong” friends but you may begin to see the same barista behind the coffee counter, the same server offering up your favorite beverage, the same gentleman with his newspaper in the corner every week and those people might become your next great conversation. We cannot meet anyone listening to podcasts in the drive thru line. But we may see a fellow parent from the school standing in the line inside and offer to sit down to enjoy the coffee together. That could be the game changer!
Throw a party!
Or at least be the person who invites others into your life. Once you have been in a place for a few months, it is fun to sit down and make a list of new people you have met ask them to get together. This can be small – like a dinner party or a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning. I also started a networking group and a book club after just meeting a few new moms in the area and asked them to join me. Then I asked them to include their friends into our group. We have been meeting now for 8 months! There are always new women at each event we host and it has been so much fun bringing women together to have a night out.
Recently, a mom who I had only connected with in my online moms club invited me for coffee. It took a few days to get a good date that worked for both of us, but we WENT. It was awesome to BE INVITED. I know because I am usually the one who INVITES. It can be a lot of work doing the inviting. It can mean being vulnerable because they might say no, be too busy, or not be interested. But, when we INVITE someone into our lives, a lot of magic happens.
Head to the park, pool or public play space
We have this amazing playground across the street and there are always neighbors out there. Sometimes, I just send the kids because I can see them from the house. Then I’ll hang out on my porch alone playing on my phone. This is NOT how you meet people. But, when I go across and sit on the bench with another mom, I always find a conversation lurking on the other side of it. Put your phone away and strike up a chat! Likely you will find you both have at least one thing in common. Most likely, your kiddo and theirs already traded Pokémon cards!
Within a few months of moving, I began volunteering for the One Roof Initiative. It is an amazing organization that needed extra volunteers so I stepped into the coordination role. I helped at two big events they did here in Tampa. I met some incredible people who were all together for a good cause. We didn’t know each other at all but we became fast friends while doing something we all believed in for the betterment of our community. I can’t explain how much it fills up the soul when you give back to others. The people you will meet are easy to connect with since you are there for the same reason. As a result, conversations tend to come more fluidly.
Hopefully these tips give you courage to get out there and make some new friends wherever you are in your life! As we navigate this thing called adulthood, change can be hard, but friends fill our cups. Ultimately, nurturing those relationships takes TIME. I know if we are patient and kind towards others, good friendships will emerge on the other side of it.
Cheers and if you ever wanna get some coffee or a glass of wine, hit me up! I’m always down to share a conversation with someone new and gain new mom friends!