If parenting were a game, the only rule will be: you need a team. And this is true for many vital reasons. I will get to that soon.
First, I am quite positive you have heard the phrase: “it takes a village to raise a child.” I once read a meme from a mommy’s blog which says she is yet waiting for the village. Or is there a number to call?
It was hilarious. Yeah, very funny because there is no literal village waiting somewhere for your call. Far from it.
In fact, I bet some parents already have a village without recognizing it.
And there are others who are too busy waiting for a village to miraculously locate them instead of spending the time to build their own parenting village.
Truth is, you cannot do it on your own. Parenting is a full-time job that even the best of us struggle with. Now, add that to your already busy work schedule and you have a typical example of a struggling parent.
The first step is to understand that you cannot do this alone. Most parents, especially new parents, believe two partners is all it takes to raise a child. After all, there are tons of parenting books to learn from. And there are movies too, right?
Oh, well, reality sets in quite too soon. And then they realize there is no one-size-fits-all to parenting. Even worse, they are times you need others to lend a hand.
Imagine this scenario. You are stuck at work with a pile of tasks your boss just handed to you some minutes before the clock hits ‘close time.’
Of course, you tried to hurry up but there is no way you are getting off that desk anytime soon. Now, it is getting closer to pick up time. You know, the usual time you pick your kids from school. Exactly! So, what do you do? Who do you call? How do you ensure they are home and safe even when you [and maybe your partner] are inevitably absent?
This is just one example of scenarios that require a village. There are times you would also need your village to help you with parenting tips. Baby is sick. Baby won’t eat. Baby keeps making a funny noise. And the list goes on and on.
Your parenting village is made up of friends, colleagues, and family members with whom you can trust your child or children are safe. That’s the basic definition.
So, the next time you are wondering where the village is, take a look around you.
- That colleague who helps you pick up your child when you are busy.
- The aunt, uncle, mom, dad, sister, brother, or cousin who spare the time to come babysit every now and then.
- The other moms who you go to compare books and ask for advice or simply pour out your heart.
- The child care providers and teachers who take care of your child while you are at work.
- The friends who allow play dates and sleepovers.
This right there is your parenting village.
Can’t Find the Village? Make One!
As unbelievable as it may sound, there are actually some parents who do not have any of the aforementioned support systems. This is usually seen with new parents. Especially those who settled far away from home where their family and friends are. It can get increasingly difficult to build this village of support in a new environment where you have no family or friends. Chances are you do not know your colleagues well enough to ask for such favors yet.
So, what do you do? Build your own village!
These tips should help you get started.
- First, know that it is okay to ask for help. Asking for help or struggling doesn’t mean you are a bad mom. Allowing others to see your vulnerability doesn’t mean you are weak or unfit to be a mother. Truth is, 80% of moms, if not more, are struggling just like you. Maybe at a different level but we all struggle from the start. We only get better at managing the situation. No one has it all together. So, get comfortable with vulnerabilities and asking for help.
- Be a social animal. You can’t build a village from your home. Get social. Go to play centers and local playgroups. Attend mommy classes. Make friends at work. Stay in touch with old friends and family. Do not forget the parent of your friends too. They can always substitute as grandparents. Essentially, keep a healthy social life.
- Allow your kids to socialize too. They need to get comfortable with these people too. Trust me, you can make good lasting relationships through your kids’ friends. Don’t shut them out.
- The more the merrier holds true here. I am not saying let every stranger in. However, be sure your village doesn’t consist of just your mom and a neighbor. Sometimes, these people will be unavailable too. You need a bigger village to keep the ship sailing.
- It is a two-way street. Do not forget to offer help too.
- Get professional help from child care providers and teachers. You also need a family doctor who you can call for help at any time.
- Lastly, do not be in a rush. This is where most people miss it. True you want to build your own parenting village but you cannot force it. Instead, keep working on yourself and hope to attract the right people.
Struggling to get things together? You should definitely start building your village right away. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child. Don’t do it alone!