October 10, 2016
I'm convinced a mom village is vital to our experience in motherhood. You've heard the African proverb before — “it takes a village to raise a child.” Why is that? Because we may be the mother of our children, but we cannot do it alone. We are not super moms who can do it all. It can be exhausting, draining, and, yes, moms get sick too! Motherhood is challenging even if we have a super involved and supportive husband beside us to share parenting with. Seeking other mothers to be a support system can help fill the gaps when we need them — and for you to help them when their needs arise. Sounds good, right? But how can you create your mom village and what exactly does a village do?
Social media. These days, social media is the place to be to meet people with similar interests. On Facebook, there is a group for just about everything imaginable. We moved a few weeks ago and I found a group for my new neighborhood that has been immensely helpful in meeting new people as I expand my own village — for both my kids and myself. I also use social media at times to express my needs so it's a place for my village to chime in with advice and offers to help.
Local forums. Using resources like Meet Up and The Mommy Network to meet like-minded moms and attend planned group playdates also makes it super easy to meet new mommy friends. If there isn't a group near you, start one!
Connect within your spiritual community. Joining a small group within your church or religious community makes the big sea of fish much smaller to connect with. Plus, as you open up with your group about your struggles, it also gives them a clue as to where you could use help. And vice versa — it will give you an inside look in how you can care for them.
Go play! Kids are like magnets, they will likely make friends easily wherever they are. If they find a new friend, get to know their parents. The park, story time at the library, children's museum, fast food playgrounds, and the mall play area are great places for both to meet friends. Don't forget to exchange numbers! Some people even have mommy business cards on hand to make it easier.
Once you make friends around you, be there for each other! We moms are in this whirlwind of life with little people we've created and it can be overwhelming. Often times helping one another is just adding a little bit more of what we are doing already.
Trade babysitting. Sometimes family isn't always available or funds can be tight to afford to pay for a sitter. Trading babysitting is a win-win for you and your friend! Trade off date nights or even to make errands like dentist appointments easier when you can't get up to tame the climbing toddler.
Pick up groceries for them. We moms practically live at the grocery store to keep up with our tiny clan's digestion rate, am I right? How easy is it to add a few more groceries to your cart and drop them by on your way home? When I was feeling exhausted and sickly during my last pregnancy's first trimester I had a few moms offer this to me. I paid them back when they arrived with my goodies, but what a gift it was to not have to endure the shopping part while wanting to eat everything in sight and puke simultaneously.
Bring a meal. If you hear someone is battling sickness (especially the mom, they need care too!), a new baby has been born, or any other situations where a meal would take some pressure off, your friend's family — do something for them. Even if you leave a meal on their porch and dash away from the sick germs or order pizza to have it delivered to their house, trust me, this is a weight lifted for them!
Trade carpooling. What a relief it can be not to have to buckle the whole crew into the van at 7 a.m. to get to school on time. Trade days with a neighbor you trust to share the bliss of avoiding part of the morning chaos for a few days a week.
It's the little things. Sometimes it is as simple as being an extra pair of arms to give your friend’s toddler a boost while she nurses her newborn nearby or watching her other kids while she takes the four-year-old on a potty break. It's the little things in life that can make a big difference.
Don't be afraid to ask for help, too. The beauty of having a mommy village is the give and take — being the support, but also having someone to lean on when you are in need. Just as you wouldn't hesitate to meet their need, they will want to help you as well. And when they offer help, don't feel guilty for taking it!
Creating your village may be the hardest part, but once you have found your community it truly can benefit everyone involved. The less heard second half of the African proverb is “and a community to keep the parents sane,” which I've found to be quite the wise truth to parenting. I couldn't do it without my village.