- If it takes a village, how do you find your tribe?
There is an old African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. But I think it also takes a village to raise a mother.
Given most of us live in urban Australia, far away from village settings, how do we build a village of support in motherhood – one of the greatest transitions of our lives?
It’s easier than you think.
- Why do you need a village?
Having a baby is considered a major life stress, and it’s rife with uncertainty, exhaustion, anxiety and feelings of isolation (just as it’s equally full of love, excitement and reward.) In a time of rapid change, getting support of people you love and trust can help ease concerns, provide much needed company and support. It’s a great time to share and bond with other people going through similar experiences.
But, you don’t have to be living in a village to have a village. It is possible to create your own tribe or support system as you transition to motherhood.
I write this, because I have firsthand experience. 5 years ago I found myself pregnant, living in a brand new city with no family, only a handful of friends (all childfree) and no networks. And by the time my son was only a few months old I had a formidable village of support with not too much effort.
You can have this too.
- How to find your village
When I refer to village, I mean it in a loose term. It’s the people around you that will support you as you learn and grow in your new role.
Your village will be unique to you and your particular circumstances – no one else’s village will look like yours.
So, to help you, I’ve prepared the following questions so you can start thinking about who might be part of your village:
- Do you have any family that you and your partner can call on for support? Can they visit you, can you visit them?
- Do you have role models who can guide you?
- What kind of birth would you like to have – can you do a course and meet some like-minded parents? Can you hire a birth coach?
- Can you join a mother’s group or play group when your child is born?
- How do you wish to nourish your baby – eg can you seek support of breastfeeding groups?
- What activities are there for mums and bubs in your local area?
- Do you have a trusted family doctor and pharmacist?
- Would you benefit from seeing an energy practitioner (eg emotional release therapist or acupuncturist) or get some bodywork (eg chiropractic care) who can help you prepare for your baby’s birth and help you find balance after your baby arrives?
- Is there a particular parenting style that speaks to you? For example, attachment parenting really spoke to me, and I sought both a community as well as a trusted source of information to refer to when I needed help.
- Can you hire some help? Eg, a cleaner, someone to bring meals, do your shopping for you.
- Can you keep in touch with your work colleagues and friends, so that you have a link with your life before baby?
- Are there online forums you can seek support from?
I know that may seem like a lot to take in, so take it gently. Also, it doesn’t matter what stage you’re at – you can start creating your village where you are, right now.
- Further tips on creating your village
Having a baby often brings forth your feminine qualities, such as your heightened intuition and emotions, your nurturing and creative side. But it also brings forth the need to ‘tend and befriend’ which is a way that women often use in dealing with stress.
So in finding your village, you may wish to keep the following things in mind:
- Trust your instincts: This applies both in terms of who you choose to be in your village and also to the advice and support you receive. You will know when you click with someone or a group (including online groups and forums). Pay attention to your feelings and if something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not and you might be better off looking for alternate support or advice.
- Find people who nourish your soul: The transition to motherhood comes with a great heart opening. In seeking your village, find the people who nurture and nourish your heart and soul, and who you want to nurture and nourish in return. Find people who find the experience as raw, real and honest as you do and with whom you can share this adventure.
- Give yourself permission: Asking for help or assistance may not come naturally to you, especially if you’re used to being independent thus far in life. Give yourself permission to receive help.
- Be in nature: In times gone by, nature was an integral part of village life, and helped with nurturing and providing comfort and healing. Studies show that spending just 5 to 20 minutes in nature can help reduce stress, instil calm and relax your mind and body. So it’s a great idea to meet your village in little patches of nature – parks, gardens and so forth – and bring back nature to your village.
Be sure to let us know how you go in creating your village. Maybe you have a story or some ideas to share about how you created your village. Let us know in the comments.
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