Making new friends at any age can be a little scary, but having to do it from scratch, well thats a different story altogether.
I think its fair to say that most of us have a handful of friends we consider family, people we can be our complete selves with, the good, the bad and the crazy. Its taken years to build up my little family, and they mean the absolute world to me. So, knowing that i would be moving to another country without any of these wonderful people around me was definitely something to consider.
A couple of days after we had arrived in New York, Steve had gone back to work, and with only poor little Leo as my companion, it dawned on me that for my own sanity (and my sons) i would have to throw myself out there and meet some other like minded mums. Luckily, i had found a fantastic group on Facebook for expats called ‘British Mums NYC’. As well as offering great advice and recommendations on everything NYC, they also organise weekly meet ups for parents with kids of similar ages, so this is where i started.
The play date is usually held by a Brit Mum on the Upper East side, theres always a snack and fun activity for the kids but more importantly, tea and cake for the grown ups. In a City that was so alien to me, it was lovely to be able to sit in a room with a group of mothers who had all started out just as i had, leaving everything you knew behind to start a new life in New York, and even though i had just met these people, i already felt a sense of familiarity which immediately put me at ease. They were very open and willing to answer any questions i had, and believe me i’ve had plenty – ‘where are the best places to get your weekly shop’, ‘how on earth do you navigate the subway with a child’ and ‘are there any stores in Manhattan that sell Marmite?!!’
This soon became a great weekly meet up for us, however as i lived downtown and was (and am) still not brave enough to jump on the subway with my very energetic young son, I knew i also had to try and meet some mums in the local area. This is when i came across a relatively new app called ‘Peanut’.
The app is a way for local Mums who have similar interests to meet up, i had nothing to lose so decided to give it a go. I uploaded a profile which included pictures, your location and three fun facts you can pick from a list – i chose ‘Neighbourhood Newbie’, ‘Wine Time’ (obviously), and ‘But First Food’. The idea behind it is that people can view your profile, see if you have anything in common and then choose to swipe up to wave “Hello” or down for ‘Maybe Later’. If you swipe up you initiate a wave and if that same person comes across your profile and decides to also wave then you are notified as a match, if they don’t wave back then they will never see that you have waved. I was extremely pleased to find that out, because after about 20 waves and no responses i started to get paranoid that people just weren’t interested in saying hello.
Tinder for Mum friends definitely springs to mind……
I admit i was a bit gung ho with the amount of ‘please be my friend’ swipes i gave at the beginning, but slowly i began to get connections and started to organise some play dates. It did feel a little like the first day at school, trying to find where you fit and wanting to make friends without looking desperate, admittedly not all the ‘dates’ end with a second but you usually get a feel after the first if you really connect or not.
If you are based Mid/Downtown as i am then ‘West Village Mums’ is also a group worth connecting with. They have some amazing mums on there who organise lots of different meet ups and you are also encouraged to do the same. Aside from this, they have a separate forum for anything Nanny related such as play dates, Nanny recommendations etc which is super helpful if you are new to the neighbourhood.
So far i’ve met some really lovely mums, and even though i was daunted by the idea of moving abroad without the comfort of having my nearest and dearest close by, i’ve realised it doesn’t mean you will never be able to connect with anyone else. Who knows where these friendships will take us, it would be lovely to think some of them will be life long, but for now i’m enjoying the not knowing and everything that comes with the adventure of being an English Mum in New York.