Parenting

Parenting without a village 

April 2, 2017

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

Do you parent without a village? How have you made yours?

Sarah xx

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42 Comments

  • Reply victorialjames April 3, 2017 at 10:24 am

    I’ve had to go from being a fairly shy person to having the courage to just start talking to mums at the different baby groups I’ve been to but not many of them live that close by ?I’m looking forward to when the baby is old enough to take to the play park and hopefully meet some nice mums who live closer to me!

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 4, 2017 at 8:34 pm

      Yes it is actually a lot easier once they are a bit older as just going to the park doesn’t feel quite so nerve wracking! X

  • Reply Aleena Brown April 3, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    I’m really bad at putting myself out there when t comes to making new friends, I must admit. And there are lots of times that I kick myself for that. It’s so true how society has changed in this respect, and it certainly has both its positives and negatives! I’ll be checking out some of the groups you mentioned, for sure! #MarvMondays

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 4, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      Yes it definitely have positives as well as some of the negatives I mentioned. Hope the groups help xx

  • Reply The Queen of Collage April 4, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    In my eldest’s first year I found myself going to all the baby groups and meeting other mums. I still meet up with some of these people now and again. #MarvMondays

  • Reply Angela Watling April 5, 2017 at 9:22 am

    I really struggle with this. I do have a strong group of mum friends from my NCT class. They have never looked after my daughter but I am confident in a real emergency that one of them would help. I also have a couple of friends who had their children around the same time my daughter was born which also helps. But it’s not quite the same as having family who you trust implicitly. Sometimes I find family visits too intense because you don’t get a breather for a couple of days then everyone is gone. In a way it would be nice to have them pop round for an hour or so. But it is what it is.

    A little envious of your Surrey Insta mummies group! I wonder who else lives in Herts…. 😉 #MarvMondays

  • Reply Mom Of Two Little Girls April 7, 2017 at 6:28 am

    I’m slowly getting there. We move a lot. Due to always having to start again it has taken me a long time to adjust to staying in one place and actually letting people in. I haven’t really let go too much though. I feel like if I do then when we move again I won’t be able to cope.
    #blogcrush

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 14, 2017 at 7:32 pm

      I think everyone feels a bit like that when they think about moving I certainly do. My husband always pushes me to do these things and they always work out well in the end. I think we are lucky to have the children as an opener for a conversation with new people. I hope you stay settled for a while. Thanks so much for reading x

  • Reply RaisieBay April 7, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    When I had my older children I had a village to help, family, friends, other mums. We were always around each other’s homes and there was always someone to help out or just talk to. With my younger children, they have little family, all my friends have moved on and most are grandparents. I did make some friends when the girls were young but it all changes once they go to school. I can cope with being lonely but I’d love to socialise with my kids. Their circle of friends stops at school friends, whereas my older kids had friends outside of school as well.

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 14, 2017 at 7:33 pm

      I haven’t got to that school age yet but I have heard that it can be harder. It’s so hard sometimes without that village, I hope you find a good circle. thanks so much for reading x

  • Reply tinmccarthy April 7, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    My village keeps me sane and saves my life. I love them more than I do my husband most days.

  • Reply Catie April 8, 2017 at 5:49 am

    Great post! ? i Do feel that mobility is one of the biggest lifestyle changes. I see this a lot in the Expat community. I have half a village as my in laws are on hand. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime ?

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 14, 2017 at 7:34 pm

      You’re very lucky, I’m envious. Yes I agree it’s definitely mobility that’s changed the dynamic. thanks so much for reading x

  • Reply Nicole April 8, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    Such a poignant post. It’s true – while our generation have it a lot easier in other ways (with things like nappies and microwaves and washing machines and electronics), we have to bear the brunt of parenting without much help. And we all know how important that village is…
    #Blogcrush

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 14, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      We really do. My parents have been here this week and it’s been so nice!

  • Reply Katie Church April 9, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    A great post, I think I need to make more of an effort and build a village! #sundaybest

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 14, 2017 at 7:37 pm

      Thanks so much for reading, let me know how you get on xx

  • Reply Something About Baby April 10, 2017 at 7:38 am

    I am lucky that I lI’ve really close to all my family – my parents are 10 mins up the road and my siblings are mostly dotted with 20 minutes of us. However, I still feel like I mostly parent without a village. The pressures of the world today mean that all my family work, including my parents, so even though they live close they can’t help out with childcare often. My sister helps out when we need it, and we return the favour, but when you all have multiple children it’s difficult thought find space to look after them all! However, I’m quite happy with the arrangements we have. I know own i have help when I really need it, but I’m also able to parent how I want to without feeling like I have to take the opinions of others on board #BlogCrush

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 14, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      It’s really difficult isn’t it. Soon my
      Sister and I will have 4 between us, that’s a lot of toddlers and baby’s for one house! That’s nice your close family are fairly close for emergencies even if not always available x

  • Reply Lisa Pomerantz April 10, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Hi, Sarah! You make such a fine point. We are all global now and sometimes facetime alone is not enough. My sister is 1500 – 2000 miles away, depending upon the time of year. The Mrs, her sister is 3000 miles away. Oh to be close in this very connected, yet sometimes lonely world! #KCACOLS

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 14, 2017 at 7:40 pm

      So true! We are so connected yet can be so lonely.
      It’s a funny old world! Thanks for readingx

  • Reply and Jacob makes three April 10, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Great post. I’m so lucky that we have my in laws nearby and they help me a lot. But it’s not the same as having my mum nearby. I’m working on my village. The park is a great tip #KCACOLS

  • Reply Lucy At Home April 10, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    I think it’s sad that so many mums feel isolated. When you’re a parent, you need support from others, but, as you say, times have changed and it’s not as simple as it used to be. Our nearest family live about 200 miles away. It’s tough.

    But I’m starting to make my own village too. When our local toddler group was due to close, I was really upset – I’d only been going 6 weeks and I really wanted to make friends with some local mums. So… I took over the running of it! It’s been great for me because I’ve got to know lots of other parents through it, and the mums who attend tell me all the time how much they love coming and what a lifeline it’s been for them. It’s hard work, but we when we help each other out, we all come out better 🙂 Lovely post and congratulations because this post was added to the #blogcrush linky!

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 14, 2017 at 7:41 pm

      That’s brilliant that you took over running it. A great way to meet other mums and I’m sure everyone else really appreciated you keeping it going. Thanks so much for reading x

  • Reply Rhyming with Wine April 10, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    I would have been totally lost without my local sure start centre. I have met so many mum friends there and they have kept me sane in the toughest of times. My online mumma friends in Blogland have also made a world of difference. You’re so right. Times have changed and so many of us raise children now without our own families on the doorstep to help. Luckily we have more ways to go out and find a village of our own now too! Thanks for sharing with #DreamTeam x

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 14, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      I really didn’t go to the sure start centre much with Amelie but we are such regulars there now, we love it! X

  • Reply mummymiller April 11, 2017 at 7:01 am

    I am very lucky that my mum does literally live at the other end of the road from me. I never moved away and chose to go to a local university as I’m a real homebody! This has helped massively now I have a baby because she’s there whenever I need something! #bigpinklink

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 14, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      That’s lovely and I bet it makes things so much easier. I’m very jealous xx

  • Reply bridiebythesea April 11, 2017 at 8:46 am

    I love this post – so beautifully written and it’s so important to have that support network – even if it’s friends or family! I couldn’t have done without my NCT group and also my mum who lives an hour away but has been a lifeline. Thanks for linking up to #dreamteam

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 14, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      Thanks so much! NCT are definitely another lifeline. Unfortunately when I moved I lost my group so have had to find another in my new area x

  • Reply Winnettes April 11, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    I love how you have built your village. I find Instagram a great place for support too. I have family close by but they all work or have kids so I don’t find they are a able to support as I need or would like. It isn’t their fault and i can’t help that much either. Like you say though emergencies are not a concern though. We would all be there. I wish the Sure Start near me was as good as yours. I think I am in the wrong part of Surrey 😉
    Thank you for joining the #BigPinkLink

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 14, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      You’re the second person to say that about sure start centres it seems such a shame / strange that some have lots of funding others don’t. C

  • Reply No I’m not pregnant  April 13, 2017 at 5:41 am

    […] I went to a playgroup this week with about twenty other mums, all with either one or two children. I’m trying to chat more when I go to these things in an effort to have an adult conversation on days when I’m on my own and also build my own village. […]

  • Reply oddhogg April 13, 2017 at 10:07 am

    I am really lucky to live around the corner from both my mum and one of my sisters – who is also a SAHM with 2 boys. I see one or the other of them most days. What I am lacking though is mum friends. I’ve struggled to make any at the groups I go to – I just haven’t found the right fit yet! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 14, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      Thanks so much for reading. As he grows I’m sure you’ll find new people and hopefully friends that you want in mum and real life. X

  • Reply Sarah - Arthurwears April 13, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    I totally get this – I wrote about the loneliness of motherhood last year as we don’t have family nearby to help and I didn’t grow up where I now live. I used to use the surestart center but they made cuts and it’s now at the bare bones and hardly anything happening there. I’m also terrible at asking for help though! #kcacols

    • Reply sarahsurreymama April 14, 2017 at 7:55 pm

      That’s such a shame isn’t it! Lucy who commented on this took over running a playgroup maybe you should set something up?! Thanks so much for reading x

  • Reply Lucy | Leaning In April 19, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    My family all live near to me and I have still had periods of time when I feel lonely. I’m sure all the hormones contribute to that too. Good on you for putting yourself out there and setting up your own villiage. It is much easier said than done. Thanks for joining us at #GlobalBlogging

  • Reply tinmccarthy April 23, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Girl I seriously do not know how you do it without an entourage. Thanks for linking up to #glboalblogging

  • Reply RachelSwirl April 24, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    I am thankful for social media as a Mum, it has certainly enabled me to meet new friends all of which have helped me to shape my own parenting in some form or another.

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