It really does Take A Village

Motherhood is by far the hardest job in the entire world. Dads, I’m sure it’s your hardest role too. Fatherhood that is. Being a parent is truly one of the most overwhelming yet wonderful things we ever take on. Let’s face it. Taking care of ourselves alone wasn’t super easy. And now we have to take care of one, two or more kids. There are nearly 40 million moms with kids under 18 in the United States.

With so many moms, why do we often feel so lonely?

In many cultures, children are raised by extended families. A few years ago, I took a cab ride and me and the cabbie got to talking. He said (I’ll spare you the accent) “You Americans make things so hard on yourselves. You both go to work and then spend all of your money on childcare and have no time to spend on your family or yourself. My parents and my adult siblings live with us. My brother and I work full time and my wife works part time. My parents help take care of the kids and the house. We have plenty of time for our spouses, our kids and we have extra money because we aren’t supporting ourselves on one family’s income.”

Wow, Mama and Kimi, come move in with me. Ha! We know that really won’t work. Most of you are probably cringing at the idea of giving up your privacy or living with your mother in law! But he does have a point.

How can we start creating a village so that we don’t do everything on our own?

"It takes a village" is a Nigerian proverb. The basic meaning is that child upbringing is a communal effort. The responsibility for raising a child is shared with the extended family. Everyone in the family participates especially the older children, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and even cousins. It is not unusual for African children to stay for long periods with their grandparents or aunts or uncles. Even the wider community gets involved such as neighbors and friends. Children are considered a blessing from God for the whole community.

There are 7 families on my block taking kids to the elementary school. Seriously, 7 moms are struggling to get their kids to school every single day. Why aren’t we all taking a day and taking the group to school together? Why do we feel like we have to do everything on our own?

Moms need a village. Social media is not enough. We need a place to shed our tears and our fears, ask our questions and share our successes.

We need a place to speak honestly and candidly. But how do you find that place? Let’s face it. I started Stroller Strides 13 years ago because I myself needed a playgroup, a place to connect to other moms.  

So, I have a challenge for you to start creating these much needed villages.

If online is what you need, there are tons of resources. Check out circleofmoms.com, clubmome and there’s a new one called Mommeetmom.com which is like a match making service for moms.

There are groups for pregnant moms, working moms, stay at home moms and more. You are not alone!  That’s why we created Our Village playgroup which is offered at our classes nationwide. You do not even have to be a FIT4MOM client. Most of our locations offer playgroups, moms nights out and more! Go to http://www.fit4mom.com to find the location nearest you!

Be that village to someone else. This might sound crazy because you are already overwhelmed. And now I’m asking you to do more. But this is how we support one another. Reach out and offer to help a mom. Don’t take no for an answer.  Moms are martyrs and they will say "no thank you." Don’t take no for an answer. Just go out and help. When they ask how to repay you, ask them to pay it forward and be a village to another mom. We can create a ripple effect.

Here are 10 ideas for how you can be a village to another mom…

  1. Watch their kid(s)

  2. Run an errand for them while you are out

  3. Take their kids to school

  4. Bring in their trash cans

  5. Bring another mom your favorite books or children’s clothes once you don’t need them.

  6. Bring a meal by their house

  7. Take her for a walk. Sometimes moms just need to connect.

  8. Give her a date night. I know this is saying watch her kids again but it’s different to give her some time with her spouse vs getting something done for herself. If the kids are old enough, have them sleep over.

  9. Leave her an inspirational card letting her know she’s doing a great job!

  10. Invite her over with kids to just hang out.

So I guess the reason why most moms are overwhelmed is that we are all trying to be super mom. We seem to think that we need to do everything, and on our own. Simplify.

Your child does not need to be in ten million sports and after school activities. They need some down time and so do you.

Say no way more than you say yes.

If you say yes, take something off your plate. And finally, realize that you are not alone.

Find your village. Be a village and get the support you need.