This is something that I’ve been thinking about for a while, especially since I’ve had my second child. Life as I can see it has changed massively since our parents became parents. Long gone are the days where you lived down the road from your parents, grandparents and siblings – unless you’re really lucky.
So what’s changed? I personally think opportunities. Opportunities to access a good education, great University’s and generally good jobs. Really we can’t complain, as a generation we’ve been lucky to have such great and equal opportunities. What these opportunities have meant though are moves away from our places of birth and families. As an example, most of the people I knew at University in Sheffield had moved away from home to pursue their chosen degree and once we graduated moved onto cities to follow their dream career.
For my husband and I and certainly lots of our friends as we now move into the next stage of our lives, mother and fatherhood, the drive to have careers in a big city has posed a new challenge – parenting without a village.
I see and hear the challenges from friends almost daily; ‘I’m so tired she won’t sleep, I just need a nap but I have no one to help’, ‘I wish I could just pop round to my Mum’s for a tea and a break’ and ‘I’d love to go out for even an hour as a couple but there is no one nearby to watch the children’.
I definitely feel these things. Both mine and my husbands parents live about 200+ miles from us. My parents live in Dorset, which although not a country away is a long-ish drive and an overnight stay, which with two little ones takes a bit of planning. We love going down to my parents, it’s the perfect country village and close to the sea so amazing for the girls as they grow but I really do miss them on hard days.
Making our own village
I’ve talked about being lonely before on my vlog – here if you fancy a watch
I made this chatty vlog in support of YANA (you are not alone) week on Channel Mum. The statistic that 92% of Mum’s admit to feeling lonely at some point surprised me at first but then thinking more about my friends and I and our experiences it started to feel like a realistic, if sad statistic.
I suppose there will always be an element of feeling lonely when you’re at home with children. It can be impossible to get out of house sometimes, especially in the winter when you’re having to bundle them up and get them into the car to go somewhere. We’ve also all generally come from busy jobs so to suddenly be home all day with no one to talk to can be a shock.
We need to make our own villages so when we do have those difficult days or we’re feeling lonely we have someone or people to lean on.
How I’ve made my village
I’ve been trying hard recently to make my own village so if I do need help, support or someone to grab me milk when the girls are suddenly ill I’ve got people there… I push myself to get out and talk to people by going to groups or just hanging out in our local Costa or the park!
The two places I have met the most and best friends are at our local children’s centre and at the park.
Firstly the children’s centre, which is a Sure Start centre by our local school. We’re lucky in Hersham that it offers stay and play mornings, classes and a really supportive team. The girls love their play sessions and I have found a wonderful group of friends from going to classes there and then meeting up with them and their friends afterwards.
Secondly the park. Most Mum’s head there on fine days and I met one of my closest Mummy of two friends there when we started chatting about when we were due with our second little ones. We now help each other out with the children; she often meets me on a preschool run to watch Evie in the pram whilst I drop Amelie off and I have been doing the same with her little girl on their preschool run.
I’m very lucky that my sister and I plotted to live close together. She plays tennis so was always going to need to be close to Wimbledon so we planned our move to Surrey which also had good links to the M3. We both have children so we can’t always help each other, but I know in emergencies that she and her husband would be there in a flash and so would we.
With the rise of social media the World has changed for us Mum’s. There are new ways to learn, wonderful communities who will listen at 2am and access to friends in a similar situations or locations.
I’ve found such a supportive community online, especially on Instagram and more recently I’ve been meeting some of the Surrey Instagram Mummy’s (thanks to @intrepidbebe for organising)! It’s so lovely to not only have these ladies as friends online but having them as real friends who I can go for a coffee with is wonderful! I love social media and the internet for opening these doors for us.
And finally there are also fab groups online to seek advice or to find friendly people to chat to on bad days, some good ones I’ve found are:
- Babycentre birth clubs
- Babycentre specific boards ie breastfeeding
- Channel Mum Facebook group
- Mumsnet boards
Do you parent without a village? How have you made yours?