My oldest daughter is in third grade this year. She has been to four elementary schools, lived in multiple states, and countries. She has had to start over in the friend department at school without knowing a soul in the place. I think she is so brave and strong.
Resilience is the word that most comes to mind.
We are a military family. We’ve moved more than most people have, but I think that we all have something in common with my daughter. We’ve all been “new” at some point. Maybe we’ve just forgotten. Maybe it’s when you started a new job or moved to a new house in a new neighborhood.
When we moved into our current neighborhood, I didn’t know anyone. In fact, I hadn’t even seen our new house in person. Now I see my neighbors out walking with their kids or dogs pretty much everyday. We often chat while drinking a coffee at the bus stop. Our kids all play together after school. But how did we get to that point of play dates and birthday party invites?
It all started with something simple.
A tiny gesture of friendship. Something small like a hello, an exchange of names and phone numbers, or Facebook friendship (if you’re around my age). All that to say, encourage your kids to include the new kid. When your kid says, “Mom, we got a new classmate today.” Say, “What’s their name? You should ask them to hang out and sit together at lunch. I bet they are feeling nervous about being the new kid at school.” This can make a big difference for a kid starting a new school.
Show your kids how to include someone new in your life.
Send that birthday party invitation to the new kid. Get in touch with their mom and extend an invite to the park. When you see a new mom at the PTO meeting or soccer practice, say “Hi and you can sit with me.” Ask what her story is and how she ended up here. Offer up the best coffee shop or your favorite restaurant in town, if she’s new to the area. All it takes is a moment of your time and a small bit of courage and kindness. It means everything to us new moms and our new kids.
Have you ever had to move and start over?