You married into the military because you are a sucker for a man in uniform. But once again, your handsome husband received orders that require you to move. You’ve known this was coming, because it does every two or three years. Even if your family’s orders are sending you to the place you ranked number one on your wish list and you are excited for your next adventure, moving is also scary and overwhelming. Then, the sadness sets in because you are leaving all the wonderful friends you have gotten to know so well over the past few years. Moving not only happens to military families, but people are relocating for their jobs more and more these days. My Navy friends are constantly moving, but in the past year, I’ve had two close non-military friends relocate due to their husband’s jobs as well.
When you move, you have a huge to-do list that includes finding schools, unpacking dishes, painting walls, finding new curtains (because your old ones never work) and putting everything away, all while keeping your kids safe and happy. I want to add something to that lengthy to do list that I feel is most important for being happy in a new city: GET OUT OF YOUR HOUSE AND MAKE FRIENDS! Staying holed up in your house for too long will get depressing quickly!! And I’ll let you in on a little secret. I have found it is way easier to make friends when you have kids, especially little ones. That’s because there are so many groups available to mommies these days. Because you are a mom, it’s simple to strike up a conversation when you walk into a group of moms you’ve never met. You always have something to lead with… “How old are your kids?” or “You have some baby food in your hair” are all great conversation starters.
Lucky for all you new moms in Jacksonville, or just moms looking for a new place to hang your diaper bag, I am a seasoned Jacksonville mommy of four years. I want to share a few groups, some military, some not, where I have made friends and found positive support in Jacksonville.
Military Spouse Clubs
I am an active member in the OSC (Officers’ Spouses’ Club) at our current squadron. When I married into the Navy, I knew I had a lot to learn and the OSC is a great place to do that while meeting women who were going through a similar situation. The OSC will help you get through the dreaded deployment and also make sure you don’t have to cook for weeks after having your baby. We provide for the Navy community by planning events such as a Christmas party for the children of the squadron complete with bounce houses, face painting and of course, a visit from Santa Claus. Typically, Navy wives will seek you out when you are new, but if not, ask your husband who to contact about attending the next meeting. Everyone there has been the new person, and probably not long ago, so they will welcome you with open arms and a glass of wine if you are lucky.
Another spouse support group is the FRG (Family Readiness Group). Again, ask around and see if this is available to you where your husband is stationed. The one at our current squadron plans many fun events for the families. For example, our squadron’s FRG is currently planning an event where our kids can Trick or Treat at the squadron. What a fun, safe way to go Trick or Treating while meeting other Navy moms!
MOPS (Mother’s of Preschoolers) & Mom to Mom groups
MOPS is an international support group for women who have preschool age children. Moms enjoy brunch, socializing, crafts, games, and more, all while your little ones are being cared for in Moppets. Mayport Naval Station has their very own MOPS group specifically for military moms. Go to www.mops.org to find a group near you.
Mom to Mom is similar to MOPS. I currently attend Mom to Mom at my church on Monday mornings and find it is a great way to start my week off on a positive note. Like MOPS, we do enjoy breakfast and socializing, and we also discuss Bible studies written specifically for women.
Moms Club keeps their calendar jam packed with fun events for the kiddos. This group hosts several events each week such as fire station and police station tours, museum trips, free play at TNT Gymnastics, Pumpkin Patch visits, Art Classes, Walking with Babies, Library Storytime and much more. Go to www.momsclub.org to find the group closest to you.
If you have been reading our blog this month, you have no doubt heard of Stroller Strength. This group offers classes several times a week at various parks in town. Moms get a great workout and kids get a play date and a chance to get their wiggles out while enjoying the great outdoors. Stroller Strength is comprised of a group of strong supportive women. I made friends that will last a lifetime while lunging and suffering through plank walks. Go to www.jaxstrollerstrength.com for more information.
Oh! I almost forgot the best part! Every group I mentioned above has GIRLS NIGHT OUT!! Moms work hard, so we deserve to play hard! Ask your husbands to watch the kids or get a sitter, because you don’t want to miss a night out with the girls. And if you are a military wife, finding a good sitter is a must because your husband will be away a lot. We have free access to www.sittercity.com, but more on that in a future post.
I’m a firm believer in being content where you are, but the only person who can make that happen is you. Surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people is key to surviving a new city. All of this becomes especially important if your husband will deploy soon. Making friends may not be number one on your to do list after you move, but it needs to be pretty high on the list. Get online! Go to Meetup.com, Facebook, Google, and find the groups that fit what you are looking for. Step away from the moving boxes, and go make some memories that you can carry to your next duty station!
Tell me moms, where did you meet your best mommy friends in Jacksonville?