I love watching The Secret Life Of…’ series. It’s fascinating, watching these littlies learning to interact, to assert themselves and to find their place in the world. That said, it’s not far removed from how many parents to be/new parents feel. We are told ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ but with families often living far apart and grandparents who haven’t yet retired, raising children can lead to feelings of real isolation. It can be incredibly daunting, making new friends as an adult; that playground feeling has been buried for years and, suddenly, here you are, feeling as though you’re back in your too-big uniform with your too-tight pigtails and your dinner money rattling about in your pocket.
I appreciate that I was very lucky to find a tribe so easily and that there are some who live in geographically remote areas/can’t get to classes/have other children so find it tricky to make plans. Hopefully the suggestions below may help:
– Search online/ask your midwife about any classes for pregnant women in your local area.
– Speak to friends who’ve had babies locally. How did they find their tribe?
– Use your free NHS classes to meet local parents-to-be. I don’t see them regularly, but I’m still in contact with a couple of lovely ladies I met in my antenatal and postnatal classes.
– If you’re planning to breastfeed, go along to your local Breastfeeding Café or join your local La Leche League before you give birth. You have an instant support network right there, from the word go.
– Whilst babies don’t *need* to socialise, mums do! There are plenty of groups to choose from – just don’t go crazy and sign up to loads, or you’ll be forever chasing your tail! Five of our tribe joined ‘Sing and Sign’ when the babies were very small, and Jules and I took Joshua and Primrose to a baby massage class run by The Daisy Foundation (as relaxing for the mums as it was for the babies!). Lauren takes Milla to Water Babies.
– Volunteer. Tribe member Fran runs a scheme supported by the NCT, creating Baby Bundles for local families who need newborn essentials.
– Start your own group. I live about half an hour from Milton Keynes and the breastfeeding groups online are brilliant. However, I noticed a while ago that quite a few of us live in the same town as Lauren and I, so set up a Buckingham breastfeeding group. There are currently only 12 of us in it but at least we’re close by – especially useful for mums who can’t drive.
– If you really are unable to get out, a virtual tribe can be really comforting. Searching key phrases brings up countless groups and pages, for example: ‘green parenting’, ‘gentle parenting’, ‘babywearing’, ‘breastfeeding’, ‘single parents’, ‘stay at home parents’ … the list goes on. You can also search by area. For example, ‘… parents’ or ‘Mums and Dads in …’
– Brilliant blog site, The Motherload, offers a resource of ‘MOLO Mates’. A little like online dating, find your tribe here.
Remember – you don’t need lots of ladies to make a tribe – just having one other like-minded ally is enough.
However you find them, when you do, keep them close. Especially for those of you without family close by, they will be your biggest support, and your sanity!
Jo, The Mother Side x