It Takes a Village to Raise a Child: Here are 3 Ways to Find Your People

We’re all familiar with the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”, thought to be §an African proverb meaning that an entire community of people should provide for, interact positively with, and care for children in order for them to experience, grow and develop in a healthy, safe and positive environment.

 

But somewhere along the way, this belief has been forgotten. Despite there being other people involved in our children’s lives, as mothers the responsibility, pressure, stresses and what sometimes feels like a burden, comes down to us. We’re surrounded by messages and media telling us what being a ‘good mum’ looks like and more often than not these images don’t show mums reaching out for support, surrounding ourselves with individuals and professionals to make up a village that surrounds us, and our children.

 

Why Does Every Mother Need a Village?

The word catamaran comes from the Tamil words kattu (bind) and maram (tree), spoken in South India and Sri Lanka. A catamaran is made from two or more tree trunks bound together. Each individual trunk is different and is a tree in its own right, they look, float and dry differently but by being bound together they rely on each other to be watertight, effective and to succeed in being a catamaran.

 

We’re all on our own individual journey experiencing ups and downs and waves of emotion. But, I like to think of us coming together as individual mothers, bound together by our experiences of motherhood to support each other in succeeding and flourishing. The binding surrounding us, coming from our village, helps us survive, grow and develop as we move along our journey into motherhood. 

 

A Village Helps Reduce Mum Guilt

New mothers are particularly likely to struggle with mum guilt, the continuous worrying about whether we’re getting things right’, for doing too much, not doing enough, and whether we’re good enough as a mum. By surrounding ourselves with a village, we see how other ‘real life’ mums are living, coping and struggling just like us. That in turn makes the ups and downs of motherhood more real and less like we’re the only ones wading our way through them.

Having A Village Allows You To Rediscover Yourself

Asking people in your village to step in and support you, offers a chance for you to have time and space away from your baby. Whether you use that time to sleep, shower, go for a walk, work on your business, read a book or all of the above, having time to yourself with no little people clinging onto you is vital for your sanity! Allowing yourself to lean on others in order to be able to, even temporarily, prioritise self care and nurture helps you start to rediscover yourself. 

How to Build Your Support Network as a Mother

Knowing that it takes a village to raise a child and accepting that as a mother finding your village is important, knowing how to find that village can often be a daunting and intimidating task. Like with so many things that seem overwhelming, the first and hardest step is deciding you need and want to do it! Remember that time you put an outfit on, looked in the mirror and didn’t love what you saw. You were convinced you couldn’t leave the house looking like that but between changing nappies, expressing milk, making bottles, putting out pyjamas, wipes, spare nappies and everything that might be needed while you’re out for a few hours, there’s no time to change no. So you do it, you leave the house looking like that and no one bats an eyelid. The world keeps on spinning and you totally forget you didn’t think you could leave the house.

 

The first step in finding your village doesn’t have to be a big thing. It can be as simple as looking for a class in your area, asking your friend to hold the baby while you shower, asking a family member to pick up something for dinner.

1. Start with Family

Reaching out to family is a great place to start as, for many of us, they want to be there and support us but we find it challenging to accept help that’s offered. Leaning on family members for help with household chores, childcare, bringing you cups of tea while you spend time snuggling with your new arrival, and plan and simple emotional support, often helps them feel involved in this stage of your journey just as much as it lightens your load a little.

2. Lean on Friends 

Reaching out to your friends for ‘baby related’ support (babysitting, advice, company), practical help (running errands, grocery shopping), and social support (nights out while a family member babysits, company at baby classes, getting out and going for walks) are all important ways to strengthen that village around you.

3. Get Involved In Your Local Community 

As we move past lockdowns and the world opens up, many communities are once again offering classes and groups for mums and their babies. Getting involved in the community is a great way to meet other like minded mums who are at a similar stage to you on your motherhood journey.

 

Groups are often advertised in local newspapers, libraries, social media groups, community noticeboards, by local health care providers, and through word of mouth. Keep your eyes open for library storytimes, mommy and me classes, parenting classes/groups, mental wellbeing sessions, sensory and messy play… Ranging from free to paid and including drop in a block bookings, there are sessions, courses, and lessons for everyone! And if going to something on your own is a daunting prospect, see if you can bring along a friend or family member to keep you company. But remember, often these classes are filled with other mums also looking for company and support and when I say it takes a village to raise a child, other mums in the same boat as you are often the best people to have around you!

4. Reach Out To A Professional

Sometimes we need support in other ways than those that friends and family can provide. Having a professional in your village is just as important as having the support from loved ones and the companionship from friends and social activities. Whether it’s support with diet, exercise, emotions and feelings, business, or someone to mentor you through motherhood and all the changes it brings, having someone in your corner will help you move forward. 

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child, and I Can Help

I’d love to be part of the village that’s supporting you! So, if having someone in your corner sounds like it could help ease the pressure, have a look at the ways in which we could work together here.

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