Over 3 years and 2 moves ago, I wrote a series on Large Family Moving. I recently had a reader ask me to write about how we start over in each new place because that was the part that was worrying her.
I actually think I had intentions of writing such a post, but never did. Why? Because that part always worries me too!
I must admit, I’m not good at starting over.
I’m an introvert, so interacting with new people is always a little tenuous for me. I am terrible at small talk and new situations. Starting over in a new place is very much all about small talk and new situations for a good long while.
But, I have learned a few things along the way. That said, once I finish this post, please feel free to comment away on things I didn’t think of, because like I said, I’m just not good at this starting over thing and my readers always have the best tips!
1. Find a way to ask your questions.
You need a way to ask about doctors, churches, hair stylists, homeschool groups, and everything in between. This can be accomplished in several different ways. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
*Find a local homeschool group and get on their Facebook page or email list. Even if you never participate with the group, you can get invaluable information from them. This is where I found my kombucha scoby after I killed my old one in the move!
*Find a Facebook page or Twitter hashtag for your city where you can ask questions and learn about the community.
*Have your husband ask co-workers for ideas. More than likely, they have been here longer than you have, so they have a better lay of the land.
*Ask people who have lived there before (if you know any). For us, this proved to be the perfect way to get the answers we needed! First of all, I touched base with the wife of the man who held my husband’s position here previously. My husband’s company is very well connected, so they are always willing to share information about where they have been previously. We also had friends who had lived in the area who were able to clue us in on homeschooling things.
*If you’re an extrovert, just ask anyone on the street! Yeah, so not my style, but not everyone is me!
2. Do your exploring sans children (or as few as you can manage). I know this isn’t feasible for everyone, but as an introvert (and I’m going to guess if you really NEED this post, you are too), new situations are only compounded by lots of little people. When our new Natural Grocers store came in, I went alone so I could get a lay of the store before doing it will all the kids in tow. It made for a much nicer experience when I did take everyone.
The same goes for doctors appointments and such. Take one or two children, not everyone. Get a feel for the office, the doctor’s bedside manner, the way things operate before hauling everyone in. This also gives you a chance to make sure the office is a good fit for you before you feel too committed to walk away.
3. Get plugged in to a church as soon as you can. This is one of the most difficult aspects of moving for me. It can be super confusing for the children too with all the “trying out” new churches. We were blessed to find a home church very quickly this time, but other moves have not been so successful. And some churches we visited were downright scary! However, once you find a church home, you will find that you will learn so much more about your community via your new church family.
One place we moved to we actually found our church via a woman I met when I took my kids to AWANA. She and I became friends when we realized we had a lot in common. When she found out we were still looking for a church (we were looking for a smaller church atmosphere than the one where AWANA was being held), she asked an old friend of hers where she went to church and that’s how we found a church family that continues to be very dear to us.
4. Take in new things with new friends. Once you start making friends, ask them to join you in a new excursion. This past year, I really wanted to go to the Christmas Expo, but I needed the push to actually do it. Inviting my pastor’s wife and her girls to come with us forced me to do something I probably would not have done otherwise.
You can also ask new friends to give you ideas for places to go and things to do in the city and then ask if you can tag along. This is a great way to get a feel for the area.
5. Don’t be afraid to move on. All the advice and suggestions in the world won’t make up for personal experience. If a doctor or dentist aren’t a good fit, move on. If you feel uneasy at the church you’ve been attending for a few Sundays, it’s ok to check out a different church. Don’t buy memberships to museums until you’ve gone once and made sure you really want to continue going. (Often, it is a really good deal to buy a membership for a large family, because it typically pays for itself within a couple of visits. This can often be done at the END of your visit without any penalty, especially if you tell the docent what you would like to do.)