When you’re living a transient life, moving every two or three years, one of the things that can be tricky is making friends. Believe me when I say, it isn’t always the easiest thing to do! Unfortunately, there are a few stereotypes surrounding being a military wife, lots of which are untrue, which mean many of us feel that we’re better off ‘staying out of it’ and being a loner.
This was me for a while, I had a big group of friends, they just weren’t connected to the military in any way. I feel very lucky in that we haven’t moved as much as many families but as a working mum I still found myself feeling lonely when my husband was away. I was never able to attend any of the coffee mornings or activities laid on by welfare because they were invariably in the day when I was working.
For me, it all changed when I joined the Military Wives Choir in 2011. I first experienced what it was like to have friends who were in the same situation, going through the same experiences and the same worries that made me realise how important they are. Up until then I had no idea what I was missing because I didn’t realise I was missing it.
On some bases there will be the weekly coffee mornings, mum’s groups, mother and baby weigh clinics, fitness classes or a military wives choir, but what if none of these things float your boat? What if you don’t have children? What if you work? What if you’re on a remote posting, or are the only navy family on an RAF base and things are done differently? How do you meet people and make friends then?
I now know that there are so many others who felt or still feel the same as I did back then. So, in a quest to help, here are some of my tips for getting to know people and finding like-minded friends in your community.
Check out Facebook Groups
There’s bound to be at least one and they’re always a good place to find out information about clubs, groups, housing etc. and the necessities of a new area like the closest schools, doctors surgeries, dentists or the best place for some nice food.
Be a Friendly Neighbour
We had the most fabulous ladies on my last ‘patch’ who make sure that new families were welcomed. Try to be the first person to say hello or start a conversation when you’re passing others too. Or, like me, be the person your neighbour asks to help remove the spider from their house because their husbands away and they have a really bad fear of them!
Check Out Sports Teams and Clubs
Most bases will have sports teams and clubs. Anything from football, Zumba, netball, ultimate frisbee, craft club, bible study, Military Wives Choir and various activities for families with children to name a few. Most bases who have a Military Wives Choir too and they may also have subsidised or free childcare for the duration of the rehearsal, so you get some ‘me time’ too.
Volunteer for Your Community Family Committee
Lots of bases have a volunteer families committee made up of wives who live in the community supported by the welfare department. They work together to put on activities and events for the families that live in the community. Anything from a monthly Saturday film club, pamper evening, ladies’ nights, dinners, and much more. If you have time, they’re a great way to give back to the community where you live, and you’ll also get to know lots of people.
I'm sure that there are many more but these are just some ideas from me that I hope will help in times when you're new to a place and don't know where to start.