Mommy A to Z

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It’s Tough Being the “New Mom” on the Playground


New Mom at Playground

I sit near the slide, watching my daughter and two other girls playing some game I don’t understand. It involves magical powers, which apparently become “activated” by climbing, jumping, and observing a host of complicated second-grade rules. The girls giggle and chase each other around the swings, without a care in the world. It’s everything I’ve wanted, ever since we decided to move to a new town last spring. Watching my daughter making new friends reminds me that all my efforts to help her with the transition — the late-night talks, the weeks of driving her to camp in our new town before we even moved in, volunteering at her school — were all worth it. Much to my relief, things are working out.

Except that, in all my worries about my kids, all my anxiety about their adjusting, I forgot one thing: I’m new here too. And it’s lonely on the playground when you don’t know anyone.

Looking around, in the background of kids swinging and racing, everywhere I see smiling mothers talking about their kids’ homework woes, the latest toddler insurrections in their households, or date night plans with their significant others. I can tell immediately they’ve known each other for years. They’ve been having various versions of these conversations on the sidelines of various playgrounds since their kids were toddling around Mommy and Me classes. And I stand alone, wondering how to penetrate these circles, how to make friends as easily as my daughter has.

Granted, I didn’t have a ton of friends in our old town. I’m naturally introverted, plus I work from home, so mixing with people outside of a computer screen isn’t always easy. But there’s a certain comfort you gain when you live in a place for a while. You see familiar faces at the post office. You strike up conversations at the bus stop. You gradually learn what everyone does for a living, who the single parents are dating, who wants to join you for a walk or a quick cup of coffee after drop-off.

When you’re new, everything is unfamiliar. It’s intimidating spending a whole day running errands and not seeing a single person you know. Not knowing where anything is in the grocery store. Not having any “local emergency contacts” to fill out on the school dismissal forms. Not having another mom you can call if you’re stuck in traffic and can’t make it to pick-up on time.  Yes, being new is tough on children. But I never really thought about how lonely it is starting over as an adult.

And so, this year I’m making changes. I’m putting myself out there, attending breakfasts for incoming parents, volunteering at PTA events. I’ve met some great people, and I’m hopeful that soon I won’t be standing all by myself near the monkey bars. I’m reminding myself that these things take time. After all, it’s not like you can just go up to a grown woman and ask her to play some game you made up about magical powers. Right?

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  1. Great post on feelings that most people have and can relate too.

  2. One great way to make friends that I have found: Ask for help. Think of something the other moms would know. Walk over to two mothers standing or sitting together, and have it ready. Say you are new, and that you need help with “x.” After they help you out, say anything to keep the conversation going. Say you will put them in your blog. Anything. Hopefully they will ask you to join them. If not, they are probably not worth knowing, and you can try the same thing next time with other mothers. It is a good idea to shoot for two mothers, but if there is only one mother, do the same thing and ask if you can join her after she helps you.

    So the magic is in the help they would give you, and how powerful and good and helpful they would feel.

  3. This is something I thought about when you first wrote the column about moving and being worried about your daughter. I wondered how you would make the transition and make new friends. I am glad that you are putting yourself out there. All the steps you are taking are good ones and I like commenter Bonnie’s idea. Hopefully, you will soon friend some lovely women.

  4. If you can help your daughter find new friends, i am sure you can find many new friends. you sound like one teriffic person!

  5. It’s certainly draining to try to meet new people. As a 30 year old my daughter just started kindergarten and for the first time I’m also trying to make friends with her friends parents. It can be intimidating, I hope things fall into place for you soon. :) I will get easier.

    • I hope it gets easier for you too! It’s a process, but I’ve met some great people already, so I’m feeling optimistic! Thanks for stopping by :)

  6. It definitely is tough to meet new people and make new friends… it gets easier as the kids join sports though – I feel like those are the majority of the friends my parents have now, the ones they met because me and my siblings played hockey, soccer, baseball, etc.

    Looking forward to hearing about how it all works out for you!

    • Thanks! My daughter plays soccer, so definitely more opportunities for all of us to be social and involved. Thanks for reading…and for the support!

  7. Great post, thanks for sharing :)

  8. I am a new mom as I had a baby girl recently. I was going through this blog – & I was freaking out as all these changes are so sudden & new in my life. When I came across your blog, I realized that even my baby grows up & becomes big, I will have to go through a whole new set of challenges like being left alone in the playground when my little angel goes & plays with her friends. From your blog I feel some sort of comfort as I realized that life is all about adjusting & going with the flow & adapting to these changes by bringing changes in my own lifestyle as you have explained in your blog. Thank you so much for boosting my confidence!

  9. I wish it were as simple as asking another mom to play games we made up ten minutes ago. I have lived in the same area for the past five years but I still find myself the loner at the playground. I am a full time student and the outings I get with my daughter are the extent of my social life lately. At the school, I am so busy worrying about my daughter that I failed to make friends and at home I recently divorced and remarried so a lot of my friendships died out. It is wonderful that my daughter calls every new kid she meets her friend. She is the social butterfly of our clan. I just hope that one day I can be too! I am going to start making an effort to volunteer and get out there more too. Here’s to hoping that it works!

    • You’re so right…you can live in a place for a while and still not find time or opportunities to meet people. I wish it were as easy for us adults to make friends as it is for them! Volunteering sounds like a great idea. I wish us both luck making grown-up friends. Thanks for reading!

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