The village is more than just a group of homes close together. It’s a place where emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental needs are met. It’s the place where the old African proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise a child”, came to life.
In the absence of villages, it’s mothers and caregivers who are struggling the most. We are biologically wired for community, but these deep communities are becoming increasingly difficult to find in developed nations and with the increase of social media.
“Though the proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ has become cliché, the impact of our village-less realities is anything but insignificant. It’s wreaking havoc on our quality of life in countless ways.” – Beth Berry
The village is the most natural environment a child can grow up in and yet most mothers are isolated, depressed, anxious, and trying to do it all on their own.
Some of the effects of our lack of “village life”:
- Enormous pressure on parents
- We feel less safe and more anxious without known boundaries, expectations, and support of a well-known group of people with whom to grow
- Less energy, more expectations
- The days of children roaming in the streets exploring, creating, and nurturing their curiosity is a thing of the past
- Caregivers feel the stress and pressure of making up for social interactions, stimulation, and learning that was once within walking distance
- Increased depression and anxiety
- Increased spending to fill a void
- Reliance on social media for sense of connection, which, ironically, makes us feel even more isolated
- Increased feelings of guilt
- We’re unaccustomed to asking for help
Do you relate to any of these? 👋
Until recently, mothers bore life’s burdens together. Children ran in between homes discovering, playing, and learning simply through life’s essential chores. Women scrubbed their clothes together, sewed, pickled, mended, cooked, and gardened all while sharing stories. We cared for each other physically and emotionally, relied on each other, and sought wise counsel from elders.
This life, this village life, created safety, purpose, acceptance, and importance.
So, how can we find a village in this modern world? Well, it takes work. So many of us are probably feeling like we don’t have time. But consider this: the time you’ll invest in creating your village will result in increased mental health, increased support, and increased purpose. In short, it’s worth it.
Mothers notoriously have a difficult time asking for help. Our lack of “village life” has led us to believe we have to do it all and do it all perfectly, but no one is. Let’s shout it for the people in the back: No one is doing it all and no one is parenting perfectly.
Creating Your Own Village:
- Respect your needs. You can’t care for others, if you don’t care for yourself. If you need a break, take it. If you need quiet time, take it. If you need to go to the grocery store alone, make note of that. Get a better understanding of your needs so you can create healthy boundaries.
- Get vulnerable. Asking for help is awkward at first. But authenticity is essential for a full and thriving life. Vulnerability takes courage, but once you are on the other side, you’ll find your needs getting met.
- Rediscover what makes you feel alive. Make a list of hobbies you love or places you love to visit. This is a great place to start when looking for your people – similar interests and passions can spark instant friendships.
- Be a part of something. The internet is a double-edged sword, but one thing it’s good for is finding things you can be a part of. Mommy and me groups, music classes, MOPS, running clubs, hiking clubs, even babywearing groups…use these connections to cultivate community by showing up, asking for what you need, and asking how you can be a part.
- Give yourself grace. You are doing the best you can! And that’s all you can do. Congratulate yourself for trying, for showing up, and for dreaming big.
One of the best things we can do for ourselves is to be patient with our journey and simply recognize our own needs. If you don’t have a village yet maybe it feels like an unattainable dream. Reach out to one friend. Show up to one group. Don’t expect perfection. Take baby steps if that’s what you need and remember Rome (or a village) wasn’t created in a day.