Three and a half years ago, I moved to the Richmond area with my husband and almost three-year-old son. We knew no one under the age of 90 and I was six months pregnant with our daughter. The thought of finding friends seemed as possible as winning the lottery.
But I like people and I knew my tribe was out there, somewhere in this beautiful area.
So, I put on my big girl pants and put myself out there. And you know what? I met a ton of awesome and amazing friends. Here are some things that I learned along the way.
You gotta get out of the house and go places.
I know, I can hear you groaning. Believe me, I like being home too. A whole day at home barely makes me stir crazy. But do you know who isn’t in my house? Anyone else over the age of six. So I have to get out if I want adult conversation.
Where are some good places to go?
Think about what you enjoy and try to find a local group to join. Within two months of moving here, I found a local MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers) that was hosted through a nearby church. MOPS is international and you can search for groups near you using your zip code. There are many in the local Richmond area.
Another option would be to join a gym. Many families are a part of gyms and at fitness classes, I started talking to other women and getting to know the regulars. Gyms often have classes geared towards moms and excellent childcare. I know gyms aren’t cheap, but when you add up childcare costs (at our gym you can have childcare for 2.5 hours each day) it is totally worth it. Plus it helps you to stay in shape! You could use the child-free time to have a conversation with a friend or work remotely. Gyms also have special events for families which is another way you can meet friends.
Richmond has many other great places to meet moms and hang out with your kids.
The Children’s Museum, Science Museum and Lewis Ginter all have yearly memberships for families. They aren’t cheap, but if you go more than a couple times a year, they are very much worth it. And the museums are inside, so air conditioning is great in the hot summer. Lewis Ginter also has some shade and a great kids area that includes a splash pad.
If the weather is good and you prefer to stay outside, Henrico County and the city of Richmond have a great set of outdoor parks. There are too many good ones to name them all, but Deep Run Park has great shade, Crump Park has many fun things to do, and Dorey Park hosted the Fourth of July fireworks this year. The Arc Park is an inclusive playground that focuses on helping kids with disabilities. And Maymont is one of my favorite places to go with my kids. It has something for everyone – animals, beautiful gardens, shade, and open grassy areas that are great for a picnic. Not only are these great and beautiful places to visit, but they are free. What could be better? There are seriously a ton of great parks, so check them out!
If you would like somewhere free and inside (a winning combination in my book), check out all the cool libraries in the area.
Each library is different so it can be fun to visit quite a few. Some have more toys, others have beautiful scenery, but they all have great books in a children’s area, as well as story times. Check out Henrico libraries here and Richmond public libraries here.
There is also a great Children’s Theater at Willow Lawn.
A friend and I recently took our kids to see Pinkalicious, and for less than $20 a ticket, our kids were entranced. We are going back again soon!
I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of great places to meet and hang out with other moms in Richmond, so search online for local pools, churches, community centers, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, a local Flying Squirrels baseball game, and so many other fun things to do.
Don’t forget to schedule a night out or a pedicure on the weekend.
Getting together with friends doesn’t have to include kids.
Once you meet a few other moms, try to find a night where you can get out of the house. Playdates are great, but there is only so much time to get to know someone when you both have kids to manage and feed.
Going out without children gives you so much more time to talk in whole sentences and find all the fun things you have in common. But seeing someone in person isn’t the only way to get to know someone better.
You also need to keep up some sort of communication with other moms when you’re not together.
Yep, this means that you need to respond to a text or Facebook message within a reasonable amount of time. It doesn’t matter the form: it could be text, e-mail, gifs, memes, phone conversations, Apps, messaging, or carrier pigeon, but you must be in communication to set up times to get together, and to respond to their sarcastic messages in kind. There’s nothing like someone sympathizing with you when your child pees on the floor or you just can’t take one more round of crying.
Don’t forget to be flexible.
When you are trying to get together with another mom, don’t be discouraged if plans change at least once. Anything from one of your kids getting sick to a thunderstorm to a change in work schedule could force one or both of you to ask for a change.
This is normal – don’t give up!
Eventually, your schedules will align and you will get to hang out in person.
And if you want to grow your friendships, do NOT be a sanctimommy!
What is a sanctimommy? It’s a Mom who criticizes other moms if they make different choices than she has made. A sanctimommy looks down on other moms and thinks her way is best. So, don’t be that! We all need support and we all need friends.
Okay, it’s go time!
Text a friend you met recently and see if she can meet you at a park. Or search the links above to find some great events near you. Remember that everyone had to start somewhere and many of the other women around you are hoping to meet a friend too. You got this.