Moving to new places is tough. Especially when there’s no family or friends in your new place. I know not everyone is as crazy as we are to jump into something this insane. Like, moving across the country in 3 weeks. But, after all the other crazy we’ve gone through, this really didn’t seem too crazy for us after all.
(Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I did say repetitively for about 8 days in a monotone voice, “I can’t believe we’re doing this. I can’t believe we’re doing this.”)
We have been so welcomed here by our neighbors and our new church family, and old friends from college we haven’t seen in over a decade. It really has helped to make this transition much easier on us.
I was always taught, though, that to have good friends, you have to be a good friend. So the two extroverts of this family came into this situation ready to make friends. Chloe, because her birthday is coming up and she wanted a party with more friends than just her sister present. And myself, because, I get energy from being around people. My thoughts can go to scary places if I’m left to myself for too long. The cardboard boxes almost did me in, ya’ll.
And, I’m not gonna stop cooking just because my kitchen is tiny. So I need friends to feed. They feed me energy. I feed them pumpkin bars. That’s how my universe works.
While this list is in no way exhaustive, it’s some ways I’ve been able to already start some new friendships around here. In fact, it may only be a journal entry of how we’ve made friends so quickly. Your tips in your new or old place may look different. And it should also be noted, that these are definitely extrovert-only tips. Most of my best friends are all on different parts of the introvert scale. They will probably have a rise in their heart rate just reading these tips. And they’ll shake their heads at my craziness. But they’ll keep being my friends anyway. 🙂
1. Smile and say hello.
Truly. I had no idea how far my saying “Hey there!” would go. Maybe it’s because I sound different or because I smell like bacon or my girls, who are always with me, look like twins. Whatever it is, you can never go wrong with a genuine smile and a hello. Be intentional about making contacts, and you will make them. And you never know where those relationships will lead. Just two weeks ago, Kami and I were in a grocery store looking for cilantro. We saw a lady with a service dog – which caught my dog loving daughter’s attention. We said hello – to the dog actually – and went our separate ways. Then on Sunday afternoon, the same lady with the same dog was walking down our street and stopped in at our yard sale. It was so fun to strike up a conversation – “So, I’m glad we got a chance to say hello to you this time.”
2. Say yes to offers of help.
Because those are really offers of friendship. We had been in town for 6 days. It was our first Friday night. And our neighbor invited us to go to a “little carnival” down the street. It was the last thing I wanted to do on my first Friday night with my husband in town. But my girls were begging. And I really did want to get to know our neighbors better. So, we said yes. And we had a great time! It turned out to be not so little after all. But I learned so much. And now we have really struck up quite the relationship that I know will pay off for both of us in the future.
3. Get out of the house.
I can’t stress this one enough. If possible, get out! We made it a point to go somewhere once a day. I don’t wanna spend the next year learning how to find my way around. I wanted to know my way around in a month. So I got out every day. Benefits? I don’t need Siri as much. And a lady was walking down the sidewalk the other day and asked where a street was – and I told her where to go. And I was right!! While, this isn’t possible when you have smaller kids than I do…definitely get out when you can. It’ll help you learn the area so much better. And you’ll meet new people in the process. We’ve learned that all we have to say to anyone is “I’m so sorry, I’m new here. I have no idea where to go.” And we are inundated with help. It’s a good feeling.
4. Get plugged in to your local community groups.
I can’t stress this enough. We came here for a job, yes, but also for a church. Jumping into that family has been so easy and fun and so spiritually uplifting for us! And for a while, while we were trying to figure out our tiny kitchen, they cooked for us. It was a beautiful yummy thing. Now…I get to cook for them. And that’s beautiful and (hopefully!) yummy, too.
We got the girls into a homeschool co-op the eighth day we were in town. That has been a huge open door to friendships and relationships for me as a homeschool mom, and for the girls – with other homeschooled kids their age.
We also didn’t waste time getting Chloe involved with her violin again. Her violin teacher has been so helpful – and is even going to take us around downtown next week! And, Chloe got the connection from her – she’s playing with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra next week!!! She’s so super excited. Because the stage looks awesome.
5. Be a good neighbor.
We are big on community in our family. We want a village to raise our kids. A village of people of all walks of life and all ages and with all sorts of values and opinions and races and…the list could go on. While we are pretty firm in the Biblical standards and values we want our girls to live by, we love exposing them to ideas and cultures from around the country and the world. We feel this is a great way to help them be well rounded and make wise informed decisions – not just culture specific decisions. This is Chloe’s third state to live in. And she’s a better person for it.
We always start forming our community with our neighbors. The people we live closest to. They’re the ones who end up knowing us the best and we can help them the easiest because we’re close. Our street happened to host a yard sale this weekend. And you bet I was right down there in the middle of it! I had a great time.
Bonus tip: If you lose a tooth, you’ll make instant friends.
So pull those teeth. Because just as Kami came across the street to tell me she had pulled her first tooth (!sniff!), a little girl from down the street said, “Hey! I lost my first tooth too! And it’s the same one!”
So see? You never know. Be nice to people. Or just pull some teeth.