You may already know this (I mention it quite often), but my family and I relocated to Vermont last year. We’ve been here a full year; 12 months, 365 days. It somehow feels like less and more at the same time. We love Vermont. We love the lifestyle, the scenery, outdoor activities; we love it all. I’m often asked if I miss “home” and TBH, I don’t. Most of the time, it doesn’t even feel like we’re all that far away.
You know why? Technology.
That’s right, we live in a time when I can group text my besties all day long, FaceTime/Skype/Zoom with any relative who’d like to, and follow basically anyone I’ve ever met on Instagram and Facebook. You get the picture… even though we’ve moved away, we’re still very connected.
So, my husband took me by surprise about four months into our new Vermont life, when he called me out on not having made any friends here. I was insulted; taken aback. Of course, I have friends. They just all live in New Jersey. I realized he had a point. Even though I didn’t feel lonely, I talked to adults every day, I knew all of the gossip, and I was up to date on all of my friends’ lives; I had no IRL friends in Vermont. No one to hang out with, grab lunch with, go shopping with, or set up playdates with. Somehow, technology and my easy connection to my friends “back home” had tricked me into not realizing I was pathetically lacking IRL friends.
Making new friends never became a priority until I realized that I had none here.
So, I started to put myself out there a bit more than my pre-move self ever would have needed or wanted. I am by no means swimming in friends and social invitations, but I’ve been making new friends that I would have no problem inviting over, asking to hang out, chatting with (in person or via text), or setting up a playdate. Here are a few things that I did to get myself out there and start making new friends in Vermont.
Joined our town’s parent Facebook group (and some county parenting groups, too).
While this group can, at times, be quite the sloppy mess, there is also lots of helpful info buried under the internet arguing. Here I have found info on activities going on in town, at school, and at the library. There are sports sign-ups, bake sales, book fairs, yard sales… you name it, it’s posted here. It has also helped me to put a name to many faces I see around town, at school drop off/pick up, and at the park, pool, or rink. And, sometimes, posts have served as conversation starters for making new friends.
I live in Rutland County and I’ve found at least two countywide Facebook groups for moms and parents. These groups post a wider range of kid/family-focused activities and events; they can be found here and here. I’m sure most counties in Vermont will have similar groups if you search for them on Facebook.
I know I said IRL friends, not Facebook group friends… but if you use the Facebook group to get to events and meet people, it’s a win-win.
Stalked my son’s friends’ moms.
My oldest son began PreK in September. As soon as he started mentioning kids in his class, I started seeking out their parents. This is the easiest and most obvious way of making new friends. You already have one thing in common: kids in the same class. You’ll have lots to talk about like class trips, assignments, events at the school, etc.
My son’s class is quite small, with only ten kids. Many of the kids in his class have younger siblings who will also be in my younger son’s class next year. In a small town with small classes, these will be the people we’ll be spending most of our time with in the future. Why not start making new friends with them now?
Went to every single town-sponsored event I could.
Fall festival? Sure, we’ll be there! High school play? Why not! Memorial Day Parade? Absolutely! Fireworks? You betcha! Get the picture? You’re never going to meet anyone new by sitting at home (and your kids will likely drive you crazy).
In addition to annual events, our town also has some really cool amenities: the pool and the ice skating rink. Both are less than a block walk from our house. Last summer, I took my boys to the pool every. single. day. They met kids and I met parents. It was perfect. In the winter, we walked over to the rink a few nights a week to skate. We would small talk with neighbors which has lead to some budding friendships.
Joined the local branch of a national family hiking organization.
Hike it Baby has been so wonderful for me and my youngest son. We hike twice a week during school hours and typically once a month on a Saturday (then daddy and big brother can join us, as well). We’ve met quite a few nice families, most of whom have also recently relocated to Vermont. The best thing here is that we’re meeting families who have similar outdoorsy interests as we do. There are two branches of Hike it Baby in Vermont. One in South Burlington and one in Rutland/Killington.
There are also Vermont based hiking clubs you can join. Green Mountain Club has branches all over the state and a few of the branches have Young Adventurer Clubs.
Went to Mommy and Me playgroup (even though my son is 4).
Hey, they said all ages welcome! While my son is always the oldest one there, playgroup gives me a chance to talk to other moms and gives him a chance to be the leader. There are typically a lot of babies and a few two-year-olds. He loves being the oldest (since he is the youngest in our family). I like getting out of the house on a weekday (especially when the weather is yucky) and talking to the other moms.
Visited the library, often.
Have you ever heard someone joke about the person in town who knows everyone and everything? I’ve got a theory that it’s the librarian. My son and I try to hit the library once a week. The library has bulletin boards with lots of posted info, flyers for upcoming events, and schedules for fun kids’ activities. If you visit the library on a weekday, you may find other moms who are home on weekdays. Crazy, right?
Our library has an awesome kids section with tons of toys, puzzles, and books. My son would literally stay for hours (and we have). We’ve also met other moms there with kids close in age to mine and similar schedules to ours. Perfect for setting up playdates and making new friends!
You can find your public library here.
Said “Yes” to as many invitations as I could.
If I was invited and there was any way I could possibly make it work, I said “Yes!” Even if it was cold out, even if I was tired, even if I didn’t want to get out of my jammies. I said “Yes.” Have you read Shonda Rhimes’ new book, “Year of Yes?” TBH, I haven’t, but my bestie has and she loved it. The book follows Shonda as she says “Yes” for an entire year and she shares how it changed her life.
I know it might be hard, but if you are in a new area and you are struggling to find your tribe… say “Yes” to every social invitation you receive (even the 12th direct sales “party” that month). You never know, your new bestie might be there just waiting to meet you.
Have you ever moved to a new city or town? What are your tips for making new friends in a new place?