New Mom in a Strange Land

How to make it in your neighborhood as a new mom.

I have a confession: I used to stalk moms at the playground. I was a new mom in a strange land, having ditched my fast-paced career in Manhattan to stay at home with my baby girl, and I was extremely lonely. I knew stalking wasn’t really the answer. I was too shy to actually talk to the other moms anyway. Thus I began searching for other ways to meet moms in my area.

The answer came in the form of a baby music class advertised at my church. The class offered a great way to bond with my child, plus I got to have some adult conversation!

It’s been nearly three years and the birth of another baby since starting that class. I’m still friends with several women from the group, and my daughters are never without playdates.

When you become a new mom or move to a new neighborhood, the isolation that results can be devastating. My experience taught me that most other moms feel the same way, but either they don’t know where to find other parents in their situation or they’re too timid to say hello. So, take a deep breath, get ready to say hi and try one of these avenues to start making friends.

Go Out and Play

Running around outside is good for your kids and it provides an opportunity for you to meet other moms in your neighborhood— no stalking required. Look for moms of children who are close in age to your own. As most moms frequent the same parks time and again, once you’ve seen the same faces a few times, strike up a conversation. Complimenting a son’s climbing skills or a daughter’s cartwheels is a simple way to get a mom talking.

Go Back to School (or Daycare)

If your child goes to school or a daycare center, most of your work has been done for you. Having kids in the same class gives you lots of talking points. Use the pick-up time to chat a bit before the kids come running; arrive a bit earlier than the beginning of the session and don’t always be in a hurry to leave. These extra moments may give you a chance to gush over the latest artwork on the bulletin board with some of the other moms.

Join the Club

Look up “moms group” with your city’s name on the Internet and see what comes up. If there isn’t a group in your town, you may be able to join one in a neighboring area. Most of these groups pair you up with moms who have kids close in age to your children. There are usually more activities going on than you can imagine, and many fit into even a working mom’s hectic schedule.

Start Your Own Group

When I couldn’t locate a mom’s group in my town, I started my own. I used Yahoo! groups and within days, more than 15 moms signed up. Once your group is formed, you can ask each member to help with organizing outings and get-togethers, ensuring you’re not left with all the dirty work.

Make Some Noise

Check out the various Mommy and Me, afterschool and theme-related (think gymnastics or swimming) classes that are offered in your area. A great resource is www.parentguidenews.com, where you can browse programs by neighborhood. If your child loves to bang pots and pans, sign up for a music class. Got a budding acrobat on your hands? Try a baby gym class. Check out your local library or recreation center for free or inexpensive offerings. Not only will you enjoy spending hours of fun with your child, you’ll be laughing with the mom sitting next to you after a couple of rounds of “Old MacDonald.”

Post a Wanted Sign

A sign posted in a prominent place can encourage other moms in your community or child’s school to approach you. If you live in an apartment building, tack a note by the mailboxes or in the laundry room inviting all mothers to have coffee. Your doorman can be a go-to source, as well; ask him if he knows any mothers in the building who might be looking for friends or playdates for their kids.

However you make yourself available, if you summon a bit of courage and do some research, you’ll soon build a network of women who share similar experiences and sentiments— and you might even make some lifelong friends.