Suburban Mum

Lorraine Smith is a Local Mum whose blog 'Gin and Cornflakes' was shortlisted for the Brilliance in Blogging awards by Britmums. Here she blogs for us all about her life in Epsom.†

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Moving to Epsom
We moved to Epsom from Earlsfield nearly two years ago. My OH is originally from Kent; me from Gloucestershire. Yes, I'm even complete with West Country 'rrrrrr' after a couple of wines, and I do miss my 'Worzel' roots: the beauty of the Cotswold hills; the weird and wonderful people (I mean, we do like to chase cheese down near-vertical slopes...) and just the general down-to-earth, slow pace of life there. However, Glos is hardly commutersville if you work in London - which we both do. So, Surrey seemed like the perfect compromise: the Downs; the community feel to its towns and villages; great train links into Town; and, importantly, near to the M25 for trips back West, and a (Maid)stone's throw from Kent for emergency babysitting from my OH's fab family.

However, moving to a new place is hard when you just don't know anyone. No matter how perfect the 'location, location, location' there is no denying that, when you get a bit older, making new friends in a new area can be daunting. So, here are a few tips that might make it a bit easier...

1) Get to know your neighbours

If you've moved to the burbs from London then this is as much an alien concept as not having a Sainsburys Local at the end of your road. However, you may be surprised to find that they are just, well, nice normal people. They'll have all the inside info - from playgroups to plumbers, dancing lessons to doctors surgeries. They'll also know the local goss, and if you're lucky they might even share it! :) I got invited to a candle party at a neighbour's house in my first week here. My OH was worried this was a euphemism for a different sort of party... I went anyway (leaving car keys at home). There really were candles. And vodka. I had a great time... And because of the vodka I bought too many candles!†

2) Go running

Or walking if treading the tarmac fantastic is not your thing. It's a brilliant way to get to know the area - the local pubs, the local shops... And also, to my amazement, other runners nod and smile as they jog past! Which actually does give you a tremendous sense of 'belonging'.†

3) Join something

I'll admit it - I'm a joiner. If I had gone to an American college, I'd have been in a sorority quicker than you could say 'Delta Nu'. Now, having kids makes it a bit more tricky unless you have a babysitting on tap. However, the best things to join are probably where other Mums will be anyway - the NCT book club, for example, which is what I did. It doesn't matter if you can't make it one month - everyone understands as they are in the same baby boat. For me, it was also an excuse to finally read '50 Shades of Gray'... purely for the literary discussion at of course!?

4) Don't be shy

Whilst puppies are girl magnets for single guys, buggies are friend magnets for new Mums. Pushing a pram makes it acceptable to stop another pushchair-wielding Mum outside M&S to coo over their little one and see if they fancy a coffee. More often than not, target Mum won't go running for the Surrey Hills and will happily indulge their need for caffeine with you. Hurrah.

5) Get your old friends round

Once my old friends had been to our new home, I seemed to feel more settled. They knew where I lived. They knew how to get here. There was no excuse not to visit again. And a new house is also a great excuse for a party! I've found that not living particularly near to my bestest buddies means that, rather than not seeing them, just the way in which I see them has changed. I probably spend more quality time with them. As it takes more effort to visit, they stay longer. †It's not just a quick drink in a bar of an evening. And if you have a spare room (or just a sofa) you can make a weekend of it. As they say, good friends are like stars, you don't always see them but you know they are there. And I do.†

Writing all this is probably going to get me onto Mastermind with a specialist subject of stating the obvious, but the purpose of this post is really to say that you aren't alone if you have recently moved to a new area. There are bound to be loads of people feeling the same way you do. It's just finding them. And it is that which can be easier than you think.


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