How difficult is it to find your village, you ask? Not as difficult as you might think - you just need to know where to look! Now, more than ever, it's important to not only recognise your parenting helpers but to tap into them more and stop feeling so guilty about calling for help!
What does your village look like?
There are plenty of people that make up a village and it should start from the moment you discover the two pink lines on the pregnancy test. But sadly, more women are reported to feel alone, particularly in the first 12-weeks of pregnancy. Although, with more couples ignoring the traditional first trimester rule, this is declining.
PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) reports suggest that, "at least one in every five women will likely experience anxiety, depression, or both during pregnancy and/or following birth," so we can't express enough how important it is to have a village around you, supporting you every step of the way.
The usual suspects
Of course, there will be your family. This group could be made up of siblings, parents, or in-laws. Your 'sister-from-another-mister' or 'brother-from-another-mother' are common around the birth of your baby and beyond - they're the ones that stick around forever and find you at your absolute worst and still love you. We thank them every day! There may even be extended family, like cousins, aunties, or uncles around you with common milestones.
There are of course more than the usual suspects that make up your village.
So who else is up for a chat?
Mother's group is often a gift for women, given by the midwives, or maternal health nurses and are a community-led initiative where mums who have had their babies around the same time get together to discuss and celebrate milestones. But sometimes, they're less gift and more social experiments. Some women find them to be challenging, competitive and a lot of the time, leave before finishing up.
Facebook groups are good, but they're not very personal. It's sometimes difficult to share personal complications or details online so if you're looking for an online community, try to join one in your locality so you may, if you choose, catch up in person when the time is right. This is a great way to build local friendships on your terms.
Library sessions are great for not only children but adult friendships. Babies get a great learning, interactive experience at local libraries with things like storytime or baby bounce while older children might prefer Lego activities or sensory play. Either way, while the children are together and occupied, parents are a more free to chat. And who knows? After a few sessions, you might find yourself hanging out later for a cuppa.
Depending on the age of your child, the local park will be a wonderful place to head to, especially if it's close enough to walk. Getting regular exercise is always important but catching up with friends, having a picnic and getting out in the sun safely should be top of mind in the warmer months. Of course, we always recommend sun safety!
Call in the experts
Not everyone is an expert and while our friends are the best place to bounce ideas around and get us out of our day-to-day challenges, sometimes our problems need professional solutions.
Childcare is by far one of the most highly sought after solutions and while friends can provide help occasionally, the village of the community is a thing of the past! Childcare educators are far more qualified to not only care for your child but educate and facilitate their needs regularly. And once a placement is secured, there's very little chance of needing to find another village to help care for your child.
Maternal nurses are another one of those gems found when you have your baby but you rarely recognise their worth. Sure, they measure your baby's height and weight, fill out the hospital book and pass on some education through various networks but did you know that they offer mental health help too? They assist with the breastfeeding journey and when you're not your best you can walk right on in there, at your worst and they will give you all the help you deserve. They are your village too!
If you're feeling off and need a little more help, never hesitate to reach out to the following professional services.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
PANDA: 1300 726 306