Creating Your Village
Recently I was reflecting on my Motherhood journey and it dawned on me that it can be truly isolating! Pre-kids I was uber-social, I had various groups of friends that I would keep up with and would catch up with friends multiple times a week. I always loved being around people and it was just what I found enjoyable and natural.
We moved to the other side of Melbourne just before my first daughter was born. It was only 20 minutes from where we lived, but it seemed to create a barrier with catching up with many friends. It was also while I was pregnant, so I was quite happy to lay low and nest before the arrival of bubs. That was probably the start of my slightly isolated lifestyle.
Once my daughter arrived, it was difficult to catch up with people properly. Either I was tired or conversations were broken because you know, babies interrupt occasionally!! I also found that my good friends were either busy with their own children or at work during the week.
It wasn’t complete doom and gloom, please don’t get me wrong, but it was definitely a phase where it’s easy to lose the old ‘you’ and forget what it was like to have strong connected conversations.
I was lucky enough to be put in contact with a gorgeous bunch of Wonder Mums [our self titled Parents Group], and it definitely helped to have a little tribe to share our stages of newborn life and share in the highs and lows that go with it. I found these friends were the ones who could offer a lot of helpful suggestions. My other Mum friends who had older babies or kids had forgotten the day to day goings on of newborn phase, and actually couldn’t remember how they had done things [I admit I have since been completely guilty of forgetting too!].
I also loved bumping into Mums in the local streets. Suddenly I had entered a very warm club of the wandering Mums. We usually had some time on our hands as we were walking our babies in the streets, hoping to get them off to sleep for a little reprieve, which meant we had time to stop for a quick chat along the way. It was amazing the conversations you would have - open and honest about Mum life and swapping tips. I remember one Mum bursting into tears on a street corner one day, to which I offered up a hug. It’s a pretty serious bond that can be created between Mums when they are in the early stages of parenting.
I got extra lucky when I lived two doors away from a seriously lovely Mum who had a daughter two months older than mine. We would call each other in the afternoon and arrange to team up over dinner time. We’d feed the girls and give them a bath together, and enjoy a chat over what would normally be the hardest part of the day. We also had date night swaps happening, where we took it in turns every fortnight to have a date night with our partners and the other Mum would babysit. Unfortunately I ended up moving 15 minutes away, so we didn’t continue those helpful little habits, but it gave me a taste of what a ‘Village’ could look like.
I often think that if I, as a person who used to be very social, felt isolated in my Motherhood journey, then how must others find it. Those who live in rural areas, or those who don’t have any Mums living right near them, or those living overseas where they don’t speak the local language. Or those who are just too tired to get out and meet new people. There are ways around it though - to reach out to local groups [either Mothers Groups through your local maternal health nurse or Facebook Groups], and getting creative with how you go about doing things. My advice [a very unqualified opinion!] is to make the effort. No matter how tired you are, do your best to find other Mums in your area, or at the very least online. It can still be isolating as a Mum, but finding a Mum or two to chat with definitely helps make things easier. They say it takes a Village to raise a baby, and I sure wished for that village many a time.
Resources to find Mums in your local area:
- Contact your local Maternal Health Nurse through your local council to be put in touch with a Parenting Group
- Search for local Facebook Groups in your area for Mums, where you can ask if there are any other Mums interested in a play date
- Contact Playgroups Australia for local playgroups in your area - https://playgroupaustralia.org.au/
- Sign up to Mama Tribe - you can find local Mama Tribe meet ups in your local area to connect with like-minded Mums to beat the isolation - http://www.mamatribe.com.au/
- Join a gym with a creche, so you can fit some ‘me-time’ in and possibly meet other Mums at the same time
- Find online Facebook groups where Mums share answers to their common problems. Even if you can’t get out face to face, it helps to know that there are plenty of Mums going through the same challenges
- And if isolation has become a big problem, then reach out to professionals who can help. There is some great supportive information on PANDA - https://www.panda.org.au/