If you don’t live near your village, here’s how to create one 

Motherly Collective

In late 2023, I had my second child. My first was born at the height of the pandemic in 2020, an event that challenged both new and seasoned parents alike. My saving grace during Covid was living in the same city as my parents, who were happy to provide me with some respite when I needed a shower or nap in the early newborn days and who would help entertain my daughter as she grew into an active toddler. In 2022, we moved to a new city, a 10 hour drive from my parents. While we still see them with visits throughout the year, I no longer had someone I could call for hands-on support in my daily life. Further complicating the matter, the new baby would not take a bottle and disliked sleeping anywhere but my arms. Breaks from caregiving were (and still are) few and far between.

We’ve all heard the old adage “it takes a village to raise a child,” but what if you don’t have one? You might just need to build your own. Here’s how I’ve managed to navigate through the commonly difficult stages of new motherhood with the village I pieced together for myself.

How to create your village

Daycare providers

I’ve kept my oldest child in daycare (IYKYK). While still very sleep deprived and cursing under my breath as I haul the baby’s car seat up the steep stairs that lead to where I drop my eldest at her classroom, it is much easier at this stage to not have to split my attention between 2 kids all day, and it helps my toddler burn some of her never-ending energy. In certain areas, mine included, there are grants and subsidies available for childcare, some of which are still accessible while on maternity leave. A bonus of having a kid in daycare is the opportunity to forge connections with the other parents.

Community programs

The public library has become my second home during maternity leave. Most communities have a local branch that is free or low-cost to join and many offer programs that you can bring your baby or toddler to. I take advantage of the weekly baby laptime classes and have met many moms in similar stages of life. Some of them even invited me into a group chat to coordinate play dates and other activities together. In addition to libraries, you may also find free and family-friendly classes at local recreation facilities, boys and girls clubs or family support associations.

Faith-based or special interest groups

When we moved, we found a new church and it allowed me to be introduced to a whole new set of families and other moms that I could connect with. They even put together a “meal train” for me after I had the baby. I often attend or host play dates with women I have met through our church. If you’re not religious, there are often other parenting or “mommy and me” groups  you can join that are focused on shared interests like exercise, child development, mental health, etc.

Online groups

There are plenty of online communities that offer support for parents ranging from region-based Facebook groups for moms to specialized apps like Peanut that have been created to connect moms who are living in the same city and looking for new friends in a similar stage of life. You will also often find webinars and online events for new parents coordinated by government or health authorities, small business owners or child development experts or specialists. I’ve participated in webinars and posted questions on mom groups. It’s comforting to have these resources right at your fingertips, especially when you’re “nap trapped” with your cell phone in hand. I’ve also taken advantage of online therapy to help navigate the rough waters of motherhood—if you don’t have coverage through insurance, you may be able to access free counseling through government or community funded programs.

There are so many routes you can take to start building your own village and circle of support whether virtually or IRL. These are just a few that may work for you. If you’re in a small area with limited community resources, you might consider starting a parent or mom group yourself. Do whatever it takes to get the support you need because raising children is not easy and you shouldn’t have to do it on your own. 

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother’s journey is unique. By amplifying each mother’s experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you’re interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.

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