I know where you are because I’m there, too. You have just finished packing an entire house with small children rummaging through every box. You might have just left the only home your baby has every known — the nursery you so delicately decorated. Now you face the monumental task of unpacking familiar things in an unfamiliar home. All while your children still need food chopped, diapers changed, clothes washed, teeth brushed.
You are exhausted, overwhelmed, and anxious to be done.
But the nagging thought weighing most on your heart is how to make this unfamiliar town “home.” You don’t know anyone. You don’t know where anything is. You’re not even sure what happens if you turn left out of your driveway instead of right.
“Home” is such a fluid concept right now.
I’m a bit of a vagabond myself. My husband and I have lived in six homes since we got married seven years ago. A few of those moves were in-town moves, a simple relocation of belongings. But we have made some say-goodbye-to-friends, I-need-gps-to-get-to-the-grocery-store moves, too. While those are difficult no matter the stage of life, I could not have predicted how hard it would be to move to a new town with small children in tow.
Old schedules are thrown out the window when your toddler gives you that “I’m not sleeping in this strange house” look. The unpacking. Oh the unpacking! We moved to our new house three months ago, and I still have unpacked boxes. I’ve lost the will to even find out what’s in them. Every utility company needs to see you in person, which means hauling your precious little ones in and out of bland buildings, hoping they don’t knock over any more plants. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE to get Daniel Tiger back on my TV screen?!
But the hardest part is the loss of connection and the seemingly impossible ability to regain it when you are working around the demands and schedules of young children. How do you build deep connections with other people when you are constantly chasing your children? Where do you meet people when you can barely find Target?
I know how hard it is. I’ve experienced the joy of a finding a soul sister, and I know the loneliness of not having a tribe. So I’ve put together a list of things you can do to help make your new town “home.”
Find something new every day.
Go to a park. Visit the library. Buy milk at a different grocery store. Drive across town to get gas. You’ll start to feel some ownership over your new town and develop a sense of where things are. In our first few weeks in Knoxville, I set out on a mission to visit a new playground every day. We found some great ones, and we found some infested with bees. But now I can have knowledgeable conversations with other moms about which playgrounds to visit. Ownership.
Talk to one new stranger a day.
When I started middle school, my parents were in Europe for the week. My grandmother was responsible for navigating that major life event. She had one rule for the first week of school: make one new friend a day. And she held me accountable, asking every day after school to tell her about my new friend. I believe the same rule applies here. You don’t have to exchange phone numbers, but maybe you will! You might never see them again, but maybe you will! You never know — they might be looking for new friends too.
Try new routes to places you frequent.
Don’t know what happens when you turn left out of your driveway? Turn left! Try a different route to the grocery store. I’ve been experimenting with different routes these past few weeks, and it’s honestly been fun! Sometimes I end up going way out of my way, but I pass so many things that I make a mental note to come back to. This is another way I get to know my new city.
Get involved immediately.
Don’t wait. Find something, anything. Volunteer. Join a church. Go to library storytime, and go EVERY TIME. This is how you will meet people. Get your children involved, too. They need new friends, too. And their friends will probably have moms. Wink. I’d be willing to bet there is a local Facebook group for your area. I’d also be willing to bet there is a local Facebook group FOR MOMS in your area. Knoxville Moms Blog just launched neighborhood groups that will organize play dates and events for moms who live close to you. GO.
They say it takes about two years to settle into a new city. I have found this to be true. I know you’re grasping for that familiar feeling of “home.” Just. Keep. Going. Go to the play dates. Go to the events. Talk to the people. Little by little, small talk will turn into “So how is potty training going?” You will be able to drive more than five miles from your house without using GPS. You will be home.