It takes a village, so how do you create it?
It takes a village to raise a child. I’m sure you’ve heard that before – but what if you don’t have a village around you?
I’m sitting in the Sainsbury’s cafe, desperately hoping that the WiFi connection will hurry up so I can accomplish my arms length of online to-do’s before zipping back to do the nursery pick up.
There’s a woman sat on one sofa with two young kids. Another woman is on a different sofa with her little one. And elsewhere all the mums are on their own with their kids.
It’s so familiar.
When I had George, I was totally loving motherhood. Two adults, one baby. It was easy.
I used to take my leisurely walk to all the baby groups. We’d sing songs, massage our beautiful silky-skinned little ones, and chat with all the other mums about how our babies were the best thing that happened to us.
When Freddie came along, it was me, him and a 3 year old George who didn’t want to be dragged along to a boring baby sensory class.
So instead, Freddie was dragged along to George’s playgroups. My attention was split between the two kids, and I never really felt able to give either of them my full focus.
In my head, playgroups were a chance to get out and meet people, just as I did with George’s baby classes. But the reality was so different.
Disjointed, and always interrupted conversations.
The whole idea of going to the groups was to get away from that feeling of overwhelm that can so easily happen when you’re cooped up in the same four walls, with the same toys. Except it just created a whirlwind of stress in my head instead.
I once sacrificed a minute of eye-splitting attention to have a mini conversation with a friend.
At the same time, Freddie fell down some steps. His stomach churning scream made me vow that playgroups were no longer an option for me.
So when the stress of trying to do stuff with your children gets on top of you, and so does staying at home with them alone, what the hell do you do?
Create a village, just for you!
If it takes a village to raise a child, then you need to find your village. If you can’t find one, then the only way is to create one. And that’s a whole different stress in itself.
Who do you want in your village?
Over the years, my friendship circles have drastically changed. I’ve outgrown many friendships that were about little more than going out on the lash. I’ve realised that many of my friends cropped up only when they needed something – they’d disappear in a flash when it was my turn to ask for help.
So my way around this, was to daydream about my ideal friendships. I asked myself the same questions about my village as I would about a job I was going for.
What did I want my ideal friendship to look like? What would we talk about? Where would we go for coffee? What would we do for each other when the other person needed a pick-me-up?
Sounds bizarre at first, but a friendship is a relationship like any other. If it takes a village to raise a baby then it takes a village to make a happy mum too.
A draining relationship, whether romantic or not, does not a happy mother make.
As women, we need a strong support network. As mothers, I believe it’s even more crucial. As an army wife and mother, it’s a non-negotiable.
How have you found (or created) your village? I’d love to know, as I’d like to put together a list of ways us mums can get together with likeminded women!