Moving to a new area is hard, whether you do it with or without kids. When we moved from Quantico to Camp Lejeune, it was the first time since college I was in a place where I didn't know anyone. Now, 2 years later, I have two different groups of friends who have helped me feel moved in and settled, like this is actually home.
First, I have the friends I have made through our local play group. I went to a site called Meetup.org, which has a list of Meetup groups throughout the country. There were several Mom's groups listed in my area, for parents of 1-4 year olds. So I contacted one group, became a member, and started attending events shortly after we moved here. The group is called Mamas and Munchkins of Camp Lejeune and Jacksonville. My daughter was only 9 months old, so she wasn't even walking, and certainly couldn't do the arts and crafts projects, but I still benefited from talking to moms with kids of other ages. The group had tons of ideas for field trips and cheap things to do in the area, and going to play dates at members' houses helped me learn my way around the new city. Now I can truly call some of them friends, and they are the ones I can call on if I ever need anything.
Recently, I have made friends with a new group of friends. I am Catholic and have always been very involved with my church. It was hard for me to move here and not know anyone at church. And I couldn't volunteer like I used to because of my kids. I realized that the church doesn't provide any childcare, which leaves out all the young parents and wives of deployed service-members. I contacted the priest asking if it was possible to start a young parents' group. He explained that because of all the scandals and lawsuits in recent years, the Church is now so sensitive to volunteers who work with children that all volunteers must have background checks and fingerprints. This means that a daycare is just too much of a liability for the church, even during Sunday Mass. But apparently, I wasn't the only mom who had contacted him about this issue. He sent an e-mail to about 6 moms who were all involved in the church, but hadn't met each other yet. He basically told us to meet and form our own group. So we started meeting weekly, and have since advertised and added several new members. We meet at each others' houses, so we can bring the babies with us to play. When the weather is nice, we put the kids in strollers and walk and pray together. Once a month we meet at church. We spend some time in a classroom together, and then go to Mass together too. These ladies are wonderful. It is encouraging to spend time with friends who share all the same religious beliefs. We talk about raising our children in faith-filled homes, the struggle of going to Mass with little ones, and anything else that is on our minds. I am so glad to have these friends who will encourage me through the next deployment!
While I have a few friends I have met through the Battalion and who I grew closer to during the deployment, the majority of my local friends are in these 2 groups. So for anyone else who is settling into a new place, I encourage you first to see what is available, and don't be afraid to start your own group!