As a military spouse one the most common questions I am asked is, “Isn’t it hard making new friends all the time?” I try not to look at it as a burden, but as an opportunity to grow my amazing support system. Indeed, after every move I found myself surrounded by military spouses looking for new friends, too. I never realized how much of a luxury that was until our last military move.
My husband came home with his most recent orders. For the first time he was being sent to a location rather than a base. I was pregnant with our first child and about to become a stay at home mom. I started wondering, would there be any other military families in our neighborhood? Would I have the opportunity to meet other spouses? Where would I find friends? Where would I start?
When we moved I was late in my third trimester and had countless questions. There were a few bases close by, but each was at least a forty-five minute drive. When asked which base I wanted to deliver my child at, I had no idea. I had no one to turn to for opinions and experiences. When my husband left for his first day at the new job, it was the first time I felt truly alone.
For the first time I had to rely on myself to make opportunities to meet new people. It may sound silly, but it was scary moving to a new location without the safety net of a nearby base and spouse clubs. I have learned a lot about myself by living here. Through trial and error I found three ways that worked the best in connecting with people in my area.
- Reach out to your old friends and invite them over. We decided to host a football party and invite all of our old friends as well as encouraging them to invite anyone they wanted. By opening up our home to people from our past we were able to reconnect with some amazing friends as well as met some new friends. If you’re not near friends from the past…
- Join local groups, sign up for a local class and volunteer. Our neighborhood has a mommy group that was great for asking questions about local pediatricians. Also as soon as my daughter was old enough, we signed her up for swimming lessons. It was great having other mommies to talk to who had children the same age as my daughter.
- Take the reigns. Start asking questions. Find the right person to talk to and pitch the idea of starting a spouse club. Once I received permission, my point of contact sent an email to military personnel informing them of a new spouses group. Before I knew it there was a group of amazing spouses getting together for lunches, trips to local attractions, book club, game night and even a recipe club.
It may vary from place to place, but everywhere the military moves us is another opportunity to grow my amazing support systems and make new friendships that will last long after we move on to the next location.
Tara O’Meara is an Air Force spouse and the author of a wildly popular military lifestyle blog. Find more of her writing on her website here.