Last year, we moved to a new town. This was house No. 8 and big move No. 3 since my husband and I were married 10 years ago. Man, it feels exhausting even to write that. If you’ve ever moved, you know that moving is both physically and emotionally taxing.
The physical stuff, I can deal with. I’ve gotten pretty strategic with our packing and unpacking routine. For me, it’s the emotional roller-coaster that is settling into my new Target, integrating into church and school, and making new mom friends.
Since our move last year, I've been "dating" a lot; hoping to find my tribe of mamas in this new place.
It isn’t easy, but I know it’s essential. I cannot do this mom gig alone. I need someone to sip coffee with. I need someone who can childcare swap on occasion. I need someone who can tell me where the good tacos are. I need local mamas to point me to the safe parks and tell me where the good swim teachers are hiding out. I need someone who I can invest in, too.
And that’s why I’m dating. I’m dating to find my people and hopefully find friends who will last through another move—which, Lord help me, is a long way off.
Through my mom dates, I've gathered some valuable insight on what to do (and not do) on those first encounters. If you’re "mom dating" now or will be in the future, heed these tips!
1. Just be you. If a potential new friend doesn’t see the real you, how will they become a bestie? Be loud. Be quiet. Share about your love of an organized pantry or the disaster that is your garage. Tell them you want to go back to school someday or that you have experienced loss. Be honest. Be you.
2. Don’t think you have to go to a restaurant. Plan a walk around the lake. Visit a museum. Grab a coffee and stroll Target side by side.
3. If the topic of vaccinations come up, divert, divert, divert! This is an important conversation, but not one for your first meet-up. You do not need to lose a potential bestie over vaccination beliefs.
4. While getting ready, aim for your most natural appearance—not total mom slob (she knows you have pajamas!). But, don't meet up picture-perfect either. You want to be relatable.
Don’t think you have to go to a restaurant. Plan a walk around the lake. Visit a museum. Grab a coffee and stroll Target side by side.
5. Don't forget deodorant. Just sayin, because it happens to the best of us!
6. Don’t be late. One, it’s not nice to keep friends waiting. Two, you need all the time you can get. Don’t waste a minute of it!
7. If conversation lulls, don't be afraid to go deep. I've been known to ask, "What's the hardest part of motherhood for you?" coupled with "How are you succeeding with (one of their kids) lately?" Moms want moms they can be real with. At least I do!
8. Remember their kids' names. I like to add them in my phone under the mama’s contact because I stink at remembering on my own.
9. Don't think she has to be just like you. Some of my dearest friends are really different than I am, both in interests and life philosophy. We have common ground, but we aren't even close to identical. Aim to find someone who complements you.
10. Ask easy questions like, “Is there a hidden park or beach you love?” “Have your kids taken swim lessons?” or “Where’s the best pizza?” Local mamas love to share their insight. I’ve never met a mama who holds back on these kind of tips!
11. Don’t be afraid to bring a little gift for your date: a simple Trader Joe’s bouquet or veggies from your garden or a small plate of baked goods for them to take home to their kids. Small gestures go a long way! Everyone loves a thoughtful friend.
12. Say thank you. Thanks for fitting you in; thank you for their advice. Say it in person and in a follow-up text. Moms don’t get thanked enough.
13. When things go well (because they almost always do!), don’t leave without a plan in place to meet again. It doesn’t have to be tomorrow, but next week or two weeks from now, schedule a kid play date or a family BBQ. Relationships require face-to-face time and regular maintenance. Make new connections a priority.