Moving with Kids, The Importance of Friendship, & Ship Island Excursion
I'm not even going to lie: having friends as a mom, with a business..while your husband is constantly in Chicago is like another job in itself. If you aren't new here, you know we've moved 8 times in 6 years, which means little to no time for new friendships. Our moves haven't exactly been down the road, either. There are always a few hours in between and, with most of us having kids and busy lives, its so dang hard to make the time to visit one another.
We have friends we miss in Denver, friends we miss in Alabama. I have friends everywhere from Monroe to Baton Rouge to Dallas to Los Angeles. We have family we want to be with in north Louisiana and Arkansas. Grayson has friends scattered all over the place. All the way to Bolivia and back.
As I grow older, I realize that's normal. But I come from a small town where your best friends were a mile away, where you just knocked on the door randomly because you were bored.
Moving to another state or city can be terrifying and, honestly, its difficult to meet new friends when you have a kiddo. Either they aren't married, or they don't have kids, or they work full time while you work from home full time. One way or another, it doesn't work out.
When we got married, Mandeville (where we are now) was the first place we moved to. We knew NO ONE. John got a new job and we rushed down here without a place to even live. We were lucky enough to meet two people who are now more like family than anything to us: Kristin + Keith. Keith was John's captain at the time so Kristin took me under her wing a little and showed me around.
When we realized we were moving back, I have to say it was nice to feel like we were coming back to familiar faces. And, having them around has been such a blessing for us. Whatever we've needed help with, whatever random questions I have about what doctors are good, what school districts are best, and what grocery store has the cheapest wine (lol)...it's been nice to have someone to call.
You don't realize that all of these things will be something you struggle with: schools, doctors, dentists, you name it. It's nice to have other moms around who can help you out!
Kristin has been so good to our family and has shown us what true friendship really looks like. Moving is so hard, it's nice to have that one constant. Trust me - Gray was more than happy to move back closer to Kristin + Keith and their kids.
Whether you're moving across the country or just across the state, its important to remember that its a change for everyone - not just you. I wanted to share a few of my tips and things we've learned along the way.
1: Cherish every friendship. Life is stressful and busy and complicated. You won't have the time to see everyone you want to see and if I'm being honest, I haven't seen some of my best friends in WAY too long. We're busy, we both get it. But we ALWAYS take time out to keep in touch, send random texts to remind one another we love them and we're rooting each other on. If you have to, put a reminder in your calender..and no, I'm not joking. Friends who have a friend who moved away: please go easy on them. It's not easy.
2: Learn to find stability in the smallest routines. You don't realize how important routines can be until you have a child. Their little worlds are wrecked when the smallest thing is out of order in their day. If you're moving, or move often, its important to maintain their usual routines: bedtime book reading (and you better keep the books in the same nightstand drawer!), bathtime routines, park days...whatever they are, keep them. Grayson is at the fun age where he actually LOVES school and going to the gym with me. He knows that, on Sundays, the gym is closed. And we have no school - so that must mean other things!
3: Do not...I repeat...do NOT throw out items that make your kiddo feel at home. I don't care if the teddy bear has been drug through an ant bed. There are just some things kids need for comfort and its okay.
4: Be patient. EVERYONE in your family is adjusting and going through a change, whether they want to admit it or not. Don't feel the need to hurry and perfect dinners immediately or have everything perfectly unpacked within the first day. Grayson isn't one to automatically love a place, he needs time to adjust to new faces. And, too many new faces at once is a total overload.
5: GET OUT THERE AND MEET PEOPLE! Do you know how many times we've moved somewhere, been invited to meet people, and backed out? When we moved back to Mandeville and my friend Kristin was nice enough to start inviting me to events - I told myself I was NOT allowed to back out. I've met some of the sweetest women and experienced so many fun things by just saying YES. Someone asks to grab drinks? YES. Someone wants to make a play date? YES. Give all things a chance.
6: Make it fun - ESPECIALLY if you're a parent. One thing I will say we've done well is finding new adventures to go on and now that Grayson understands what an adventure is, it makes them that much more fun. John and I will take time to explore the trails and local restaurants here during date night and we love taking Grayson to new parks and new local events. We are so blessed to have such an amazing community in St Tammany and the New Orleans area that caters to children + family.
These photos are actually from Ship Island in Gulfport last week. Kristin invited us to come along and we had the best time. Adventures like this were made for Gray (and he's pretty obsessed with Kristin and her daughter, Lucy!)
7: MOM GROUPS. If you aren't as lucky to have someone you know in town, get on facebook and find a local moms group! From symptoms of sicknesses to which doctors are best and what playgrounds feel safest - mom groups are the way to go. I can't even tell you how helpful ours has been in our home buying process. I dropped a quick "hey guys - is this home in a good school district?" and within thirty minutes had hundreds of helpful responses!
8: Don't wait to make yourself at home. One thing that has helped us is calling people by their names when we meet them and see them out. I know that sounds absurd, but it makes Grayson feel like we know them so well. For example, the sweet lady who works at our church is named Wendy. We don't know her from the pastor BUT Grayson feels like he has met a new friend (and we know she's safe!) Our realtor, neighbors, locals we've met - we make sure to remind Grayson of these people and get excited when we see them to make him feel even more at home.
9: And most importantly, don't ever assume your kids are oblivious. Grayson has been moving since he was born and once he was around the two year old stage, I made sure to slowly explain things to him: new bedroom, new place to play with his dog, etc. It's helped him to feel a little less terrified of such big changes and now, at almost four years old, we're looking for a home here and he's VERY excited. He keeps telling me he wants the BIG HOME and wants me to call our realtor and ask for the BIGGG ONE. We house hunt together a lot and he likes to tell me which one has the best yard...he's kind of picky.
But really, moving has been such a pain at times and then at times, such a blessing. We're met amazing friends and been to fun places along the way.