My mother-in-law was in town for a visit and we were reminiscing about how the hell she survived raising four kids. Her response?
“Oh we had it easier back then.”
I was kind of surprised, I’ll admit, about how it could possibly be easier in the 60’s. When they had no car seats or bouncy seats. No iPads or video games. No online grocery delivery service.
“We didn’t work, and we were always together. We put a blanket on the grass, put all the kids together to play, and took turns watching them so we could clean the house or run to the grocery store.”
And that my friends was the answer, she had a village.
No, our moms didn’t have as many things as we do. Toys, books, and other distractions to keep us busy as children, but they did have friends. When I was growing up, I was always spending the night at someone’s house or knocking on doors asking my friends to play. We would roller skate, ride bikes, or head to the park… alone. (gasp right?) And when my mom had a doctors appointment she would drop me off at one of our many neighbors, who all went to the same public school.
Why don’t we have a village anymore?
Because we’re too busy doing all the things. Let’s face it, nowadays most households require dual incomes, and we don’t have time to even make friends. And when we are presented with the opportunity to meet other parents at school or church functions, so many of us have our heads buried in our phones, we don’t even know how to be present anymore. (And I’m not judging because I’m that person too! Read more about disconnecting here.)
What if we brought back the village? Wouldn’t that be awesome-ly amazing?
We have started to, in a casual way. I have a friend whose husband also travels, and we take turns watching each other’s kids so we can run errands. We get an hour alone at the grocery store each week, which totally helps both us and keeps our kids from that mundane task. And saves our sanity.
We also carpool. Do you know how freeing it is not to have to do drop off and pick up every single day? And we’ve even changed dance studios so our daughter can be with her friends from school. We rotate who picks up the girls on dance days, bring all the girls to one house after school and do snacks, then takes the kids to dance. It’s heaven only to have to do this once per month!
Our world is so busy, and we’ve forgotten about a fundamental part of parenting, our village. It takes a village, not to judge and scream at each other, but to come together and raise these kids. It takes a village to help a mom with a newborn out at Target who needs help unloading her cart. It takes a village to watch others’ kids at the park who might be in danger of getting hurt. It takes a village to help the mom whose son won’t come down out of the play tunnel at Chick-fil-A. We are all in this together, to help and be helped.
But we also have to be brave and be willing to tell someone if their kid is in the wrong, and not be scared to correct them in the midst of their behavior. (Like this amazing mom did at Target.) We have to stop worrying so much about what people may think and actually start doing.
Because that’s what a village is. It’s a group that will stick together, no matter what. That will pitch in at the messiest times, and be there for each other. A group that won’t judge, or hate, or bicker, but love and support. Sounds amazing right? It’s closer than you think.
How Do We Find Our Village?
It’s not easy to make friends, but when you become a parent there are ways. It’s a mom you like at preschool dropoff or at baby gymnastics class. A co-worker that also has kids. A group from your child’s soccer team that would love to do a potluck each weekend. All it takes is an invitation or a small call for help, you just have to ask.
So please let’s bring back the village. Let’s stop judging each other and start helping, and remember that we are all stronger when we work together.
If you are looking for your village, please listen Episode 2 of our podcast Cold Coffee. We discuss the perils of parenting alone and how we made mom friends! Please SUBSCRIBE and leave us a review.
If you liked this post, then read How to Teach Kids Kindness from the Most Postive Mom on the Planet.
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Kathy Radigan says
When I had my first baby we had just moved from NYC to Queens and I left my corporate job to be a SAHM. I actively searched for my village and after 10 months found it. It was amazing!!!! We had our own mothers club, we went to the park and we had girls night outs. Also if someone needed a sitter one of us was there. Both my son and I missed it when we moved to the suburbs. But then we were (still are) 6 blocks from my folks so I had a built in village. I love this piece!! So glad you have found someone to have that experience with.
Bri Adams says
Oh this is such a great reminder! It does seem like we should have it “easier” now with all the gadgets but I agree. We were always with family or friends growing up. Constantly surrounded by other adults that would discipline us when needed but love and encourage us too. I’d love to bring back the village!
kate mayer says
The virtual village exists, but nothing replaces IRL! Playgroups are more about the moms (and dads) supporting each other, than the playing — a much needed support system, and mandatory in the teen years!
Jenny - Unremarkable Files says
I feel like I get “the village” at church, at least a little bit. We aren’t all neighbors geographically, but for a few hours on Sunday it is everyone watching out for everyone else’s kids. We all know each other, and usually we’ll see lots of people holding babies that are not their own while their mom is teaching a Sunday School lesson or taking her other kids to the bathroom. I do like that little community.
Kristen Hewitt says
YES! It’s so wonderful isn’t it?