Fish out of water

It’s a funny thing, this moving house lark. One minute I’m a sociable person, struggling to find the time to see all my different friends, and the next I’m a loner, whose only local friend is my husband, and who might not have an adult conversation with anyone else for days at a time. Takes a bit of getting your head round, if I’m honest. It’s rather surreal.

We arrived here and immediately I threw myself into the challenge of making friends and trying to replace that amazing support group I’d built up around me in south east London. But it’s been hard, and it definitely takes its toll on your confidence and self- esteem. I’m that woman in the playground or at the singing session at the library, trying to catch the other mum’s eye. I’m the person chatting away to the children’s centre manager because I’m desperate for some adult conversation.

And when I do make a contact, I’m trying to tread that delicate line between making enough of an effort, but not appearing too offputtingly needy.┬áIt feels a bit like throwing myself back into the world of dating. Trying to make plenty of contacts in the hope that one might pay off, constantly going through conversations in my head, wondering if I was funny enough, friendly enough, asked enough questions, didn’t talk about the kids too much.

My rules in this friend dating game are as follows:

  • Don’t judge a book by its cover and discount anyone based on first impression. I don’t want people to do this to me, so I shall afford them the same respect.
  • Give some thought to how you come across. My uniform of tatty ripped denim skirt and black vest tops might be comfortable, but to some it might not give the best impression. Try to find a balance between maintaining your individuality and not sticking out like a sore thumb. This is only short-term until you’re feeling more settled and self-confident. (Note to self: return those patterned trousers you bought on the recommendation of Grazia).
  • Do everything more than once before making a decision. Groups always feel uncomfortable the first time. You’ve got to stick with it for a few visits and see if they get more bearable, and eventually you might look forward to them!
  • When adding a new contact to your phonebook include a note of their child/children’s name(s) and maybe where you met them to jog your memory, or they’ll get swallowed into your address book never to be seen again. Desperately scrolling through your phone’s contacts when you see someone whose name you really should remember on the other side of the playground is stressful and almost impossible when trying to herd two toddlers at the same time.
  • Don’t overload yourself. The initial feelings of loneliness may mean you rush at a hundred miles an hour to try to meet people, but you’re best off taking it slow or you’ll feel overwhelmed and depressed.
  • Try to plan something, however small for every day of the week. Breaking up that expanse of days is half the battle of getting through them.
  • Enjoy the company of the small people you’ve chosen to spend your time with. They are highly entertaining an often very affectionate, and they constantly push you to try new things. So don’t take them for granted.
  • Try not to eat raw onions in your salads at lunchtime. If the smell of your breath scares even yourself, it’s not going to be conducive to forming enduring friendships.

17 comments to Fish out of water

  • Oh totally feel for you. We moved areas 9 years ago.. sometimes I still feel like the new girl but on the whole it’s great and I definitely wouldn’t move back! Sounds as though you are on the right track and you are so lovely that you will have lots of friends there soon, I’m sure. X

  • Boy,I can definitely sympathise with you & all your do’s & don’ts are a great check list for any new mum, let alone a new person in town.I found this,not only when my first was born but also my second where few of our baby group had seconds at the same time.Now of course,with their ever growing interests, I find I’m doing it all again.However, I’ve made some great friends through it & find all my experience is also helping my business too.Thanks for a great read & hope you’re settling in & everyone has made you feel welcome.

    • Young Mummy

      I remember feeling very guilty when the first of our NCT group had her second, as I just wasn’t able to offer her to same support as I did the first time round. The rest of us were all back at work and I think she felt quite lonely and isolated.

      We’re settling in well – I’ve met some really nice people over the last few days so I’m feeling very positive at the moment!

  • Oh gosh Heather… I know exactly how you feel :( We moved to the area we are in now (although we are now on house number 3) 2 and a half years ago and I know no-one, and friends and family are at least an hour and a half away.

    At least you are getting out and putting yourself out there… I’m sure you’ll settle and make friends soon… you’re a very likeable person :) I’m still finding it difficult getting myself out of the door… if I leave the house once a week I’m lucky!

    I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you last week… I was afraid that I’d look like I couldn’t control my two… they are complete terrors at the moment. I’ll drop you an email, or catch up with you at CyberMummy about perhaps sorting something out :)

    • Young Mummy

      Rebecca! I would never think that for a minute! My two are completely uncontrollable. In fact, I think I may have to write a post especially for you about my afternoon at a local soft play. A perfect example of how completely out of control I am! x

      Wish we lived close enough to do some groups together. It’s always easier when you know one person.

  • I think you are so brave, I should have done this with Piran. I am going to try harder this time round, I am sure that there is someone out there for me to be friends with.

    I will bear your rules in mind!

    • Young Mummy

      You definitely should, as you’re a really lovely person who would make a great local friend for someone. The onion rule is especially important – please remind me of this at cybermummy…

  • Susan

    It’s taken 5 terms to feel part of things at the school drop off/pick up so keep going. Soon your children will have plays over at people’s houses and then chance for adult conversation will resume!

  • Well I have an awful lot of respect for you. I’ve not been brave enough to do anything like that since we moved here although I did go out for a lovely long walk along the river with a colleague and her daughter this morning and it was bliming brilliant and I’ll definitely do it again.

    • Young Mummy

      Well maybe we can spur each other on? To be fair, you work most of your week, which makes getting out and meeting people very difficult. I’m lucky that I can sort of take a few months off so I can focus on it a bit more. x

  • I can totally understand how you feel, I have moved back to an area that I although I grew up in, all of my good friends and family have moved so I have had to make a whole bunch of new ‘mummy’ friends. I felt like such a new girl at school the first time I started going to groups but a couple of months on and I have made some really good friends. I found once it gets to the stage where you add each other on Facebook it helps things as you get a little peek into each other lives a bit more. What you said about going more than once is really true as well, good luck :)

    • Young Mummy

      Ooh facebook – good plan. I’m going to look a few people up now. It’s great to hear from someone that’s done a similar thing and that it’s going well. Good for you!

  • Great tip on putting the child’s name in the phone along with the mother’s name….so many names to remember, they do start to blur! I hope you are settling in and am sorry we never managed to meet up with the little ones while you were in SE London….maybe someday! Also, I too am prone to over analyzing coversations when I first meet someone but if you can try to just tell yourself to ‘stop’ when you start that, and you actually do stop, it feels really good. Just imagine :)

  • Welcome to Berkshire! I know exactly what you mean about being the new girl – that’s exactly how I felt when I moved to the village I live in now and became a mum. I’m with you on the onion tip – and on the phone name tip. Too many times I’ve remembered the name of the child but not the mum which is pretty embarrassing.

    Anyway, lovely to meet you on Friday night – let me know if you want company and we can arrange a “date” with the kids! x

  • Great post. It’s funny. Sometimes it’s one extreme or the other. We moved when Monty was 12 days old (long story but he came before his due date) and although we were only 10 miles from Brighton I felt like my world was upside down. By the time he was a year old I used to joke that I needed to stop making eye contact with other Mums at groups etc as I kept getting ‘picked up!’ as it were and it was impossible to keep up with everyone. You’ll get there, it will all fall into place before you know it. But the new girl feeling is pants I agree.

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