Motherhood has been one of the best experiences I’ve had. But it has also been one of the hardest. For just as many joyous days I’ve had, I’ve also had days filled with challenges.
After I gave birth to my first child, I was determined to do all the things by myself. I felt empowered to check off my long to-do list daily regardless of how tired I was as a working mom. I was determined to earn that imaginary “Mom of the Year” award.
As I look back, I realize how unhealthy this was. By the time my daughter was 2 or 3, I was burned out and finally decided to sign up for therapy to help me determine just how to do this mom thing without feeling so undefeated at the end of the day.
To my surprise, the answer was simple. I needed to unlearn the thoughts I had programmed to believe about motherhood and begin to raise my hand to ask for help when needed. I mean I was a full-time working mom, newlywed, and homeowner, and all my time was dedicated to those. My therapist helped me realize that I had completely lost myself in motherhood, wifehood, and homeownership.
Fast forward five years later, and I finally realize that it really does take a village to raise a child. I’ve since had a son during the height of the pandemic, and I’m currently pregnant with my third child. Let’s just say that I’m no longer embarrassed or scared to ask for help when needed.
Does It Really Take a Village to Raise a Child?
“It takes a village to raise a child” is a well-known proverb. I’m sure you’ve probably heard this phrase before in some form or fashion. It simply means having the support of a community to help raise your child.
From experience, I believe that yes, it does take a village to raise a child. Parenting can be overwhelming, and both parents and children can benefit from having an extended support system. We were not intended to do life alone. We need community and support from others.
Luckily, my husband and I were both born and raised in Jacksonville, and our immediate family is close by to help us out when needed. Just recently, my husband went on a weeklong vacation, and my in-laws stepped in and helped me with the kids. It offered me much relief especially while being eight months pregnant.
However, I know not everyone has the luxury of having immediate family nearby to help or that you trust. If you don’t have someone that you can rely on to watch your kids when you need a small break, for date night, or for any reason you may need childcare, you can seek out other areas to help you build a village or sense of community.
Places I Sought to Help Me Build My Village
School and daycare: School is a great way to build a village. As full-time working parents, it’s necessary for my husband and me to rely on school and daycare to help us raise our kids during working hours. Not only do our children get the opportunity to get an education while we’re away, but they are also taught how to respect others and build friendships.
I’ve met great friends through my kids’ school by attending birthday parties, volunteering in the classroom, and through play dates. Once you’ve built a relationship with the other parents, you may discover new friends and a safe environment to help fill in where you can’t. Plus, it’s nice to have another adult to communicate with regularly outside of your spouse and the kids.
Extracurricular activities: Like school, enrolling your kids in extracurricular activities is a great way to connect and establish a community. By conversing with other moms during practice, you can form relationships. Those interactions can turn into a new babysitter, play dates, and life-long friendships.
Social media groups: Social media is a great way to put yourself out there and connect with others in your community especially if you’re new to the area. Join any local parenting, neighborhood, school, and mom groups to help you meet others, get advice, and learn about events for your family to attend.
Understand That Everyone Needs Support
As a first-time mom, I thought asking for help meant I was failing at motherhood, but please understand that this is further from the truth. We can’t do this alone. I’ve sought help and will continue to seek help while on this journey through motherhood.
So, next time you see a mom in the grocery store with a screaming toddler, don’t look away or snicker, give her a nice word or two. Even a smile can display solidarity and go a long way. She may not have had the opportunity to build a village yet and just needed a gallon of milk.
Parenting is great, but sometimes it’s hard, too. Having a support system is a great way to help you get through it. I will admit that initially creating a village didn’t come easy for me. But I knew that I needed additional resources to step in and help when needed. Sometimes we must get a bit uncomfortable or do something new to create the change we crave and need for both ourselves and our children.