If you’re a parent, chances are someone has said to you “It takes a village”. I used to instinctively roll my eyes at this every time I heard it. This is the oldest parenting cliche in the book and hands down most over-used. It wasn’t until becoming a mom that I realized how true this proverb is. Parenting at any stage can be such a challenging, foreign, and isolating period in anyone’s life. Moms today are held to such high standards and are scrutinized over the right and wrong way to parent. Honing in on the supports of your community, your family, and your friends can be the key to thriving or just surviving the day to day obstacles of parenthood. Building a support system completely changed my life and made me a happier, better mother.
Asking for help doesn’t make you a failure
After my first was born, I couldn’t help but feel alone. My husband and I had just moved to a new area and, while we have supportive families, they lived over an hour away. I hadn’t met new people around our area and was the first of my friends to have a child. It was an overall overwhelming and isolating time. I convinced myself that I needed to and could do it all on my own. After suffering in silence for a couple of months I finally took myself out of my comfort zone. I began the search for others who were feeling the way I was.
Fast forward to the birth of my second child, who was born in the height of a global pandemic, yet I have felt nothing but love and support from my team. My village was there for me in any way they could be. They checked in on me regularly and offered what they could without hesitation. While I sit most days feeling trapped in my house, I don’t feel anywhere near alone.
Finding Your Village
What do we do when we don’t have a built-in village? How do you find your team? Well, frankly put, we have to get out there and build our own. I have included resources that I used to build my village. What worked for me may not work for others, but may be a good jumping-off point if you don’t know where to begin.
If you have local family members, I would advise you to try to tap into them for support. While I thought everyone was too busy, it turns out they were giving me space and waiting for me to ask for help as to not step on my toes while I was navigating life as a new mom. This is yet another one of those cases where if you don’t ask you’ll never know.
Join a mom group specific to your area and actually post in it. One of the scariest things I did as a new mom was post in the local moms group saying I was a new mom and was looking for friends in the area or someone to go do playdates with my son. This was completely outside my comfort zone, but tons of people responded because tons of moms were feeling the same way I was. (Reminder #1000 that you are not alone in this journey.)
Outside of sites like Facebook, there are also networking apps for moms, such as Peanut. These sites function almost as a dating site for moms. Your profile has a couple of pictures, 3 icons that represent you, and a little bio. I’ve had many friends who loved using it. While I didn’t enjoy the app as much as others I know, I do credit it to me meeting one of my closest friends and a very crucial member of my village.
Go to Groups or Classes
This one may have to wait a little or may be a little different for the time being due to COVID-19 but look for interesting groups or classes. This is a great way to meet like-minded individuals! Look for local music classes, or mommy/baby fitness classes, support groups. Your OB, Pedi, or PCP is a great place to start if you are looking for any kind of support group for things like Postpartum depression or anxiety, breastfeeding, or just parenting. My personal go-to was storytime at the local libraries and bookstores. Libraries are a great place to check out for activities, groups, and many have a great play area.
Get out there and assemble your team!
I want to end this with a disclaimer: THIS ISN’T EASY. Putting yourself out there is hard, but it is worth it. Find people who don’t just accept you as you are, but that love you as you are. Find a village that is looking for the same things you are. Celebrate each other and be there for each other. Life is hard enough, we don’t need to make it harder by doing it on our own. I have learned that while it’s really easy to feel like you are in it alone, most mom’s out there are dealing with the same struggles as you.