Since marrying my
wonderful amazing husband (are you reading this, honey?) in 2010, we have lived in three states, four towns, four apartments, and two houses. As an added wonderful bonus, we’ve also had three children in that span. I learned quickly how to adapt to a new town and become plugged into the community, at least a little relatively quickly, mainly through trial and error and my husband’s past experiences with moving around frequently.
So, when you are knee deep (scratch that. OVER YOUR HEAD) in boxes, wearing sweatpants because it’s a day that ends in “y,” and you’ve eaten takeout off paper plates with plastic forks four days in a row, how on EARTH do you start to adjust yourself to a new town, let alone grow friendships and find a solid parish community?
Before You Move
- Pack a box that has kid toys and kid bedding in it, and make sure you either bring it yourself, or that it will be the first thing unloaded off the truck. The last thing you want to deal with when you face moving day is not having materials for your children to play and nap. Tired and bored kids make for a cranky mom. And well, you know what they say: When Mom ain’t happy, no one is! Bonus points if you do this early so that the toys are exciting.
- Prep your kids. This is helpful more for the over 2.5 year old crowd. Kids like to know what is going on. Get them excited about the new place and all the cool things they will get to see in the new town. If you have kids of an age where they will have to say goodbye to friends, have a sendoff party or gathering (ideally at a park!) so that they can have one last fun time, say goodbye, and exchange contact info to try to keep in touch.
- Research parishes. It’s easy now to research parishes before you ever move to an area. We found one great way to research what parishes in our future hometown might be a good fit for us was to look up their Sunday bulletins. In many areas, these are available online. They can give a good picture as to the Church’s financial situation (many post their financial summary right there in the bulletin), their priorities, their activities, and even often stats about them like how many parishioners they have. I gravitate towards a parish with lots of young and large families, and I have tended to see that more in parishes that have a focus on pro-life causes and lots of activities for a range of age groups. Mass times and confession times are a big deal to me. We aren’t 8am churchgoers (10am is difficult to get to for us!), but I love a parish with frequent confession availability rather than the usual Saturday 3-4pm slot.
- Research Catholic mom groups within the parishes and on Facebook. Get added into applicable facebook groups and check out their events listed. RSVP to one that is reasonable (a mom’s night where you can bring the kids to play in the church playroom, for example). Do this BEFORE you move so that you have something to get plugged into quickly.
Day of the Move
- Track down that toy and bedding box and set up a corner for play and nap time.
- Lower expectations. Things might break, kids might go nuts, and no matter how hard you try, you will not get time to wipe everything down before your stuff ends up there. Roll with it. You will get time soon enough to deal with it all. The lower your expectations, the less crazy the upheavel will affect you.
- Eat out or eat takeout the first night. Maybe you are super organized and prepacked a meal. If so, bless you, you are more organized than I! For the rest of you busy moms, just do takeout. It’s easy, and no dishes. Who wants to do dishes on their first night? Amiright?
- Track down the disinfectant. I know, I know. I talked about lowering expectations. But since my kids threw up on everything our first night in our new house, I have to just put it out there: know where it is.
- Unpack only plates, cutlery/silverware, cups, a frying pan, the beds, and bath stuff first. The rest is all a bonus. When you’re childless, generally you have so much less in the way of belongings that it makes lots of sense to follow the old advice of unpacking your bed last so that it forces everything else to be put in order, but for those with families and especially little kids, it’s not practical.
After the Move
- Go to that RSVPed event. The house is a wreck. There are at least fifty unopened boxes (or worse, they’re all unpacked as a cluttered mess calling your name). Just go. Not only will going to an event/mom’s night invigorate you, but it very quickly gets you over the nervous introductions. And, as an added benefit, you will meet some undoubtedly nice people for whom it is fun to tell you all about town. When people find out you are new to town, they are much more welcoming and interested in talking to you than if you’ve been around for a year. So get out there, introduce yourself and take that very uncomfortable first plunge into meeting new people. A good goal is to meet at least one person with whom you exchange contact information with to schedule a future playdate.
- Keep going out to things, as you are able to. Just don’t invite anyone over for a month while you get your house in order (people will totally understand!).
- Be sure to contact that person you met to schedule that playdate!
- As quickly as you can, swing back into routines. It will make your soul feel good to be back to a normal schedule.
With any luck, these tips should help you to have a solid strategy for moving to a new town and adjusting to your new settings.