When you’re a military spouse, moving is simply part of the lifestyle. For some, it’s effortless to fit right in with other wives. For others, it might be a bit harder.
Living on or off base/post both present their own set of challenges in meeting people and starting your life in a new place, and for those of us who live off base, these resources and ideas are here to (hopefully) make it a little easier on everyone.
- Meetup.com A great resource to find other women, moms, or couples in your area with similar interests and lifestyles. Join one or a few, try out an introduction meeting that many set up to get to know one another before letting people officially join. From military to attachment parenting, cooking to rock climbing, there are thousands of meet ups with just about any topic you can imagine. Not seeing one your style? Start your own and run it your way!
- Get involved. Volunteer to help out with the FRG, the military MOPS, or a welcome committee.
- Take the kids. Find local kid and parent areas (like Gymboree, a nearby park, a rec center) and start going. Chances are your kids will befriend someone else and in the process you’ll meet another parent.
- Attend meetings and events. My husband’s company hosts regular get-togethers that are family oriented – an Easter egg hunt, Halloween contest, Christmas balls, etc. Some of the same people always attend and through this, we get to know other families and couples. It’s also nice to put a face with a name you’ve heard over and over at home.
- Get out of the house. Take the kids (or yourself) to some of the local attractions – museums, shows, farmer’s markets, festivals. You’ll get to know the area, meet others, and find some things you do, and don’t, want to go to again.
- Facebook. Search your military post on Facebook. Like the pages that have to do with the MWR (Morale, Welfare, Recreation) and sign up for a newsletter about upcoming events if they offer one. Find groups that have the post name in them (we have one for ladies night out, moms day in, etc.) and join. It’s a good way to see if you’re interested in going to one of their events before you meet them all.
- Classroom volunteer. If you have children in school, see if they need any extra help during the day.
- Plan ahead. If you have the time, do some of this before the move. Having a plan of things to do or see on a boring day or a break from unpacking is a lifesaver. And if you know you’ll be staying in a hotel or temporary housing for a while in the new town, you’ll already have an idea of activities you can get to while you wait.
An important thing to remember is to give yourself time to adjust. Moving is stressful on everyone, whether you have kids or not. It takes a lot to find a niche for yourself and your preferences in a new place.
Everyone handles a move differently. You may jump into a new life with open arms and start volunteering and seeking out friendships, but you may take a more cautious approach, and both are okay. There is usually plenty of time to find friends and things to do. If you’re working, cut yourself some slack. You’ll meet people who have lived there for a while, and they will offer you plenty of ideas.
Keep in mind that just because you live off base doesn’t mean you need to feel left out of the military lifestyle. It’s sometimes hard to see the connections spouses that live near each other form because of all the similarities they now share, but you’ll soon find your own niche and group that you feel comfortable with.