Behind The Butter

On Moving to a New Place (with young kids)

This is a post I have been meaning to write for some time now, so please excuse the lack of usual Thursday recipe in exchange for a “behind the butter” posting. I have gotten a lot of email questions regarding our semi-recent move and how difficult it can be to move to a new city when you have young kids. I will happily share our story and experience in hopes that it helps another mama out there! Moving to a new place is HARD and can feel very isolating — know that you are not alone!

We moved to the Berkeley area this past January from a small town about half an hour away. Now, half an hour away is not far away by any means but let’s just say it felt far away! We did not know anyone at all in our new city but I had always prided myself on my ability to adjust well to new situations and I felt like I was up to the challenge. I love and thrive on change! At the time, Grayson had not yet started preschool so I was home full time with a six month old and a two and a half year old. We had yet to find a babysitter (let’s be real: I still have yet to find a babysitter).

The first month was really the honeymoon period after the moved. We relished being in a bigger, more urban city with about a thousand food options and things to do. We unpacked, met our neighbors and explored our new farmers market. I got a spot for Grayson at a small preschool and he started in February for a few days a week. But then….I got homesick. Extremely homesick. I missed my friends so much and hadn’t met a soul in our new area. It was a very rainy winter here and it rained every single day. Grayson, who had never been away from home before, brought every known virus home from school and both kids were sick (literally) every other week. I’m not saying this to complain – I’m just stating how it felt for me. And it felt like a very long and hard season. I wanted to meet friends but had no idea where to look, and since it was raining so much, we stayed home a lot.

Finally, after a month of feeling down, I told Adam that maybe I had postpartum depression. Looking back, it wasn’t depression at all – it just was just me feeling homesick (sidenote: if you think you have postpartum depression please talk to your doctor. It’s a very serious matter and shouldn’t be taken lightly). We spent our weekends back in the city we had moved from and stopped trying to plug into our new place. We talked about moving “home” when our lease was up. This went on for about three months. I felt like we had made a horrible mistake by moving here and all I wanted to do was go home. 

But then one day the sun came out and Spring started to make it’s first appearance. I was able to get outside with the kids more and getting a new double stroller that I loved really helped me feel more comfortable managing them out of the house in a new place. I found a yoga studio that I loved and started going to evening classes once a week after the kids went down. It wasn’t much but it was a start. I slowly started to remember the reasons we had decided to make the move in the first place (a move that was totally our decision to make – I realize what a luxury that is) and those reasons had not changed. We still loved the added diversity of our new area, all of the restaurant options, the parks, the great schools and the things to do. We started to spend our Saturday mornings throwing the kids in the stroller and exploring new bakeries and coffee shops (not an easy thing to do with two little kids but the croissant lovers in us prevailed). We researched and attended community events. We joined a local CSA. I still hadn’t made a friend yet, but things were looking up. I realized that missing our old town was natural and I was always going to have a feeling of nostalgia towards it because that’s where I had my babies. And that is okay. We started our lives together there and it’s where we brought our boys home from the hospital. So many wonderful memories! But now we are in a new place and there are also wonderful memories to be made. 

However, the real turning point for me was when I finally sucked up my pride and posted publicly on a local mom’s facebook group I was part of. I said we were relatively new to the area and I hadn’t met any friends yet…and that things had felt hard. Would any moms like to meet up at the park for a play date? For an introvert, that post felt extremely hard for me. I put myself out there in a way I don’t usually and couldn’t believe it when I hit enter. And you know what? SO MANY MOMS WROTE ME. I couldn’t even believe it. So many moms said that they, too, felt the same way I did and would love to meet up. We picked a place and a date and I hosted my first playdate without knowing a soul. It felt scary but I did it anyway. And then another and another and another. I started getting out and talking to moms on the playground and making plans – real plans – to get together. And somehow, I met a few friends who I instantly hit it off with. Phone numbers were exchanged…then first texts…and then the endless text streams. And now, it feels like I have known them for years instead of months. And we feel so thankful to live where we live and plan to raise our kids here. 

So…that long story has a moral and it is this: if you are currently in a stormy, isolating season of your life for whatever reason — a new baby, a move, a loss of a job…stick it out. You have no idea what life has for you right around the corner. This hard season will end and you’ll soon find yourself standing in the sun again. You can do this. You can do hard things. Staying at home with your kids is amazing and I am thankful to do it…but some days it does feel incredibly isolating and lonely. Know that this stage isn’t going to last forever. Kids get bigger and they won’t always be sick all the time or fussing at 5pm. If you’re in a new place and your story sounds similar to mine, get out there. Talk to moms at the playground. Make playdates. Do it even if it feels hard and unnatural to you. Join a group, a church, a gym…whatever you need to to get out of the house and meeting others. You can do this. 

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  • Gina
    July 13, 2017 at 9:12 am

    I’ve been back in the Bay for about 4 years and still haven’t made any new friends! It’s hard out there…especially when you’re in your early 30s without kids. I’m having my first this September and joined a weekly mom group through John Muir that will start in October, so hoping I meet mom friends there:)

    • Leah
      July 13, 2017 at 9:28 am

      Gina- where in the Bay do you live? We live in Oakland and I’m pregnant with our second baby, due in November. I just met a mom at the playground 2 days ago who said they had moved 4 days prior from San Diego and didn’t know anyone! It was so honest and I think that anyone (definitely myself included) who has moved to a new area and doesn’t have an “instant” community (like grad school, etc.) has felt this way!

      • Breck
        July 31, 2017 at 10:49 pm

        I’m also in Oakland and have a kiddo (my first) on the way in November. I’m hoping to join a weekly lactation support group once he arrives and make connections there, but maybe this is as good a place as any? Would any of you East Bay moms or moms-to-be like to grab coffee sometime?

  • Lee R
    July 13, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Needed to read this today. I’m a first time mom on maternity leave with my 4 week old and feel like I’m never going to feel normal again and can’t do it every time he cries…have to remind myself it’s all temporary and will get better as time goes on (with hopefully more sleep on the horizon!).

    • Casey
      July 13, 2017 at 10:18 am

      Lee when I had my first I felt EXACTLY the same. Hardest time of my life. It gets so much easier. Hugs to you!!!

    • Heather
      July 13, 2017 at 10:24 am

      You will feel normal again! It will be a different normal but that’s okay because it just means you are growing into your role as mama. Hang in there, it gets better!!

  • Kiri
    July 13, 2017 at 9:51 am

    We just moved to a new state a month ago with our six year old and 8 month old for my husband’s work. We wanted to move after school got out so our six year old wouldn’t have to transition in the middle of the year. However, now we are here for the summer with no friends and no one for her to play with. I’m also playing SAHM for the first time ever and we are all going a little batty. This was a good reminder to be patient with ourselves, we’ve only been here a month. School will start in few weeks, I decided to do some volunteer work where I will hopefully meet more people, and then maybe some play groups with the baby and a part time job in the fall. In the meantime I’m taking the kids and running off to my parents for two weeks because it’s been a rough couple months and I just want to see some friendly familiar faces. I’m looking forward to fall and winter in Arizona when we can finally get outside and explore.

  • Haley
    July 13, 2017 at 9:57 am

    I am right there with you. When we moved more than a year ago, it took me nearly 6 months to make mom friends. ITdoes take some work and putting yourself out there, but community is an incredible feeling. So glad you have community now!

  • Heather
    July 13, 2017 at 10:23 am

    I had a lump in my throat by the end of this post. We LOVE our town and neighbors but are looking to move and I cry every time I start thinking about leaving but know we have to do what’s best for our family. I looked at a house 20 minutes away today and you’re totally right – only a few miles/minutes can feel like another country.

    Since becoming a mom I’ve definitely stepped out of my shell and forced myself to socialize more and I’ve made a bunch of great mom friends in the process. If we end up moving to this house (*fingers crossed*) I am going to try and embrace the new town and opportunities to make even more friends. Being home is SO hard and definitely isolating but completely worth it. So glad you guys are settling in!

    • Cassidy
      July 14, 2017 at 5:48 am

      Right there with you sister! My husband just accepted a new job eight hours away in a different state and while I’m excited for a fresh start I dread moving. Our community here is so great, both of our families are nearby, and I love where we live. But this is the path we’re on and the season we’re in and I have to believe that this leap of faith is going to take us somewhere great. I bet it does, and I bet yours will too!

  • Heather Warner
    July 13, 2017 at 10:24 am

    Woof, I needed this. Becoming a SAHM for a 2.5 and newborn in September and I am so scared to lose the social aspect of work…

  • Julia
    July 13, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Thanks for posting about this! We moved overseas 3 weeks ago with 2 kids- same ages as yours! Also my first rodeo staying at home! I know I need to embrace it but its hard! This helps me get some perspective.

  • Rosie
    July 13, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Thanks for posting Jenna! I’m a long time follower (since before you met Adam) and I too live in the Bay Area. Ive been in SF since 2005 and now have three little kids and work full-time. As my husband and I contemplated leaving the city to raise the kids, I always enjoyed your Marin posts as they helped me think about what our life would be Iike there. It’s such a gorgeous place! I was so curiousness about why you decided to leave and move to berkeley. Have you ever written about that? Anyway, my family is leaving city life behind to head to Pleasant Hill in August. I’ve been worried about making new friends too! Thanks for giving me encouragement to reach out to new people!

  • Amanda
    July 13, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Thanks for writing this, it hits really close to home for me! My husband and I made a seven hour move in April to his home town. I quit my job before the move and we’re expecting our first child in October. I know I’m very blessed that we’re able to make the choice to do all these things, but it’s not easy. This is proving to be a really hard season for me, as I struggle with changes in identity the loss of social connections. Glad to be reminded there’s a light somewhere!

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  • McGee Susan
    July 13, 2017 at 11:39 am

    You are not alone. A friend of mine was going through a very similar situation and started meeting other moms just the way you have. That led her to begin an organization called The Buggy Bunch. It started out with a few women with a dreaming spirit and has turned into an organization meeting the needs of women all over our county.

  • Chelsea
    July 13, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Oh, thank you so much for sharing this! I love hearing people’s stories of transitions because it helps me remember that all transitions are so hard. They really are- in any stage of life. So thankful you reached out to other moms in your area!! That’s so brave but so awesome. Thanks again for sharing!

  • Taylor
    July 13, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    This is a huge struggle for militay families every 2-5 years. We drop everything on a dime a move to a new place with no family or friends and have to figure it out how to start all over. I also stay home with my two kids and there are definitely times that it feels isolating. Putting yourself out there is hard, but also the best way to make a connection! I’m glad you were able to find some friends at your new home. I post this as we are months away from moving across the globe again. Moving is one of the hardest things for military families, that most people never have to experience. Thank you for sharing and showing people it’s not easy!

  • Mallory
    July 13, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    We need to make mom business cards a thing. I meet a nice mom with a similar aged kid at the park, but then never have the courage to ask to hang out again.

  • JC
    July 13, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    I’m not a mom, but I still love this post so much! It’s so important to press though those gloomy points in your life, like you said…you never know what is in store for you!! It’s great to see you so happy, too!

  • Angela
    July 13, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    I will never forget the hell that was the neverneding sickness when my kids started daycare. It was a full year of all four of us being sick constantly. Not a single week went by where someone wasn’t sick in our house. That alone is super depressing and isolating much less moving to a new area. I feel you-it’s not something you can ever prepare for!

  • Tami
    July 13, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    We moved 3 years ago and I still haven’t found any friends here. It’s hard to make friends as an adult. I keep searching but haven’t joined anything yet

    • Julie
      July 14, 2017 at 8:40 am

      Tami – same boat!! I moved 3 years ago as well. I have some work friends, but no local/neighborhood friends. I keep stalking Meetup but haven’t pulled the trigger either. Maybe we need to finally do it! You are SO right about it being hard to make friends as an adult.

  • Katie
    July 13, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Thank you Jenna!! This post is so relatable and really hit home for me in so many ways… The honeymoon period of the move, then the doubt, the nostalgia for your old home. And the isolation. Except I’m isolated for the opposite reason in my new city of Denver. I don’t have children. It feels like so many people my age do, especially out here. I too am introverted so I’d love to put myself out there online first, but I can’t really message on a mother’s group board. Can anyone recommend a site or app or anything geared towards just meeting friends in general?

    • Julie
      July 14, 2017 at 8:40 am

    • SARA
      July 17, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Katie, my sister screenshotted your post and sent it to me since I often complain about similar challenges. I’m a fellow single, introvert living in Denver and would totally be up for grabbing a cup of coffee and connecting if you were interested. Shoot me an email if you want!

  • Alyson
    July 13, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    How powerful and comforting in a strange way to read that others have the same experience and feelings of lonliness when moving to a new place! I moved to SF in February, and it’s been difficult to make friends. I’ve very introverted myself, but keep trying through different outlets!

  • Carolyn
    July 14, 2017 at 5:18 am

    Hi Jenna – this post spoke to me today and I couldn’t help but cry reading it !! My husband and I are due with our first baby in three weeks and because we needed space we moved two weeks ago out of our apartment in Boston that we LOVED into an area (only 20 minutes away!) with much more space but without the walkability and city we have grown to know and love in our years as a newly married couple. If not only because I am pregnant :), I have been feeling so down about how isolated I will feel once the baby comes and nervous about ‘getting out there’ to meet other moms in this area. Thank you for speaking SO honestly about your feelings – it is so easy to see people on blogs and on instagram and think “she has this whole stay-at-home-mom thing figured out” but your story has inspired me to get out there once I am ready and not be afraid to go completely out of my comfort zone to meet some other new moms.
    Thank you!!

  • olviya
    July 14, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Thanks for this post Jenna. I feeling a little lonly this week, and a little couped up (totally my fault). This post encouraged me to reach out to my friends, and put in more effort to setting up playdates. <3 I'm happy that things are looking up for you and your sweet family.

  • Sm
    July 14, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    I really, really, Teally needed to read this righ now. Thank you.

  • Beka
    July 14, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    We moved away from the Bay (and our families) to the Sacramento area last Fall with a newborn and 2 year old…and my job too. Being a new stay at home mom with 2 little kids and a husband who worked 16 hr days was so hard, but what really really helped me was meeting other moms. My husband always would joke that it was like I was trying to ‘date’ them haha. Joining our local MOPS chapter really helped me not feel so isolated, and we’ve made some great new friends out of it. Way to get out and meet people, hang in there!

  • laura
    July 15, 2017 at 7:17 am

    I loved reading this post Jenna. I hope you continue to write more of posts like this in addition to your (amazing) recipes.

  • Katie
    July 17, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Thank you for writing this. We moved between holidays from the East Coast to the West, and as you said, it was a rough, dark winter. It’s felt isolating to be so far away from our family and friends, and the time difference alone makes it quite a challenge to keep in touch. And… I’m pregnant! I’d thought the timing would end up being ideal, but I’ve been rethinking that a lot. We are planning to move back in a little while (which was always sort of the idea) but once the baby’s born, I’m going to make an effort to join parenting groups to hopefully make the baby transition part a bit easier.

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  • T
    July 22, 2017 at 7:32 am

    I completely understand. While I didn’t move, I was the only one of my friends circle to have a kid. I wanted to make “mom” friends who understood what I was going through. Luckily, I found Hike It Baby which is a nationwide meet up for families with kids to go on walks and playdates.

  • Lori S H
    July 22, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    What a lovely post! My boys are 19 and 17 now, and I too remember those feelings moving to a new town when they were 1 and 3. Getting outside of my comfort zone and joining a Moms Club really helped me in so many ways. Very encouraging words Jenna!

  • knsballantyne
    August 16, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Great post! We lived in various places in California for almost seven years, last fall moved to Seattle, and this fall we are moving to Hong Kong! I am very introverted like you so it’s hard for me to put myself out there. Or soon is almost 2 years old. My husband’s is super extroverted and makes friends easily so I rely on him a lot to connect with people! Which is nice but I need to work harder to make fellow mom friends.

    I’m impressed even with your videos on Instagram! I would probably be too shy to even do that.

    • knsballantyne
      August 16, 2017 at 10:15 am

      Our son*

  • Nadia
    August 24, 2017 at 11:09 am

    This is a blog post unlike any other I’ve read. Thank you. When we first moved, I felt those same feelings. I cried so much because I had feared that we made the wrong decision. We, too, only moved 30 minutes from our last house, but the community is so different. Today I was at the park with my kids, and there was another mom there with her son. I FINALLY worked up the courage to get her digits(OMG it sounds like I’m dating again!), and I am so proud of myself. I don’t know why it is so hard, but finding mommy friends resembles dating on so many levels!

  • Anna P
    August 29, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Hi! I know this post is a bit old, but I figured I’d post a moving-related question anyways. I have been following for a bit and I know you used to live up in Napa/Sonoma county. My husband and I may be moving there (from the city) in the next year or so and while I’ve been up to visit many times, don’t necessarily know where the best places to live would be. We are probably around your age, no kids yet, but enjoy eating, exploring and being in an area that allows some walk-ability to things. Any suggestions for neighborhoods we should check out? I will probably be working between Petaluma and Santa Rosa. Thanks!!