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Being the New Kid on the Block

Moving to a new city is never easy.  The packing, the house-selling, the forwarding of your mail and loading up of your car are just preludes to the mess awaiting you at the other end: the unpacking and finding half your dishes broken; the unpacking and never finding your favorite (fill in the blank); the searching for a local grocery store, opening a bank account, and so on.  Add kids to the mix and the work multiplies ten-fold.  You’re incredibly busy helping your kids get settled in their new rooms, talking them through missing their friends, but you can’t help but wonder where the Mommy is to help you with your transition!
Where is your group of local girlfriends to give you the scoop on the best pediatrician that takes insurance and squeezes you in at the last minute?  How will you find the gals who will tell you how big your kiddo’s getting, and how notice how many more tricks he can do this week than last?  Being a mom in a new city can be lonely and overwhelming, and you may have no idea how to start making connections. 

Two of my friends moved last year, both while pregnant and raising a toddler at the same time.  I went to them to find out how they started getting plugged in to their community.  It turns out there are some great national organizations out there, as well as many easy and free (!!) activities you can do to help bring you in contact with other parents.  These may seem obvious to some of you, but I know what mommy brain can do to a girl, so they’re listed anyway.

First and foremost is the obvious – get out there and get playing!  With all the unpacking and cleaning and stocking up to be done, setting aside time to hit the playground for extended recess may be low on your list of priorities.  Build it into your day, though, and give yourself that time as break time for mommy while the kids let off some steam.  Head out mid-morning when most other mommies are hitting the park and you’ll be surrounded by your new neighbors.  If you’re like me, you’ll barge right in and introduce yourself.  If you’re shy, approach the mommies with a question: “I’m new here – is there a great indoor playground around for rainy days?”  Something like that will get the conversational ball rolling and you’ll be swapping email addresses in no time.  We mommies will generally go out of our way to help a fellow parent, so don’t be scared!
There are other great freebies in the neighborhood, too.  Both Sandra  and Rebecca recommended the neighborhood pool as a place to hang and find new mommies.  The local library, with their children’s book readings, is a great organized activity, and they may have a list of mommy groups in your area.  Moving into the scheduled and paying realm, YMCAs or rec centers are relatively cheap and often offer organized activities for babies on up; swim classes can start as early as six months old!
Looking to more organized mommy groups, most churches offer Mother’s Day Out or some such program.  I know my church has a mommy group that meets twice a week and is only loosely affiliated with our parish, so stop in at a local church or synagogue and ask them about weekday groups. 

Finally, hit cyberspace to try and score a few leads. Both my girlfriends looked into MOPS, Mothers of Preschoolers, which is a national organization for women with infants through pre-kindergardeners.  There’s also Mom’s Club, which is for mothers of kids all ages.  Chances are there’s a local chapter of one of these near you.  And if you live in or near a big city, Urban Baby, Go City Kids, and Geo Cities are all websites with info on kid activities in many major cities across the country.
And if all else fails, go on the offensive right in your own front yard: scope out the house on your block with the tricycle and mini-van parked in front, and walk right up and introduce yourself.  Of course, bringing cookies with you can’t hurt.


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