Find Your Tribe: How to Build Your Parenting Community

Is new motherhood not looking or feeling the way you thought it would? 

If you find yourself asking questions like: How in the world do other moms get things done?  Why is this so hard for me?  Am I doing it all wrong?  I love my baby, but why do I feel so alone? 

It’s no secret that having a baby changes everything—and not just our physical bodies! 

Having a baby can change our relationship to ourselves, our partners, our friends, our work, our sense of time and priorities. 

The solution to this is simple and shouldn’t be kept secret:  We weren’t meant to do this alone. 

We’ve all heard the phrase “It takes a village.”  This is just as much for raising healthy and happy parents as it is for raising children. 

Watch this video (or scroll down to read the transcript) for real, applicable tips that you can begin using today to build a parenting community of your own that is supportive, fulfilling and fun!

Transcript:

Hi.  Do you ever feel isolated, or lonely, or that this parenting thing is so much harder for you than for everyone else?  Then check out this video.  I'm Catherine O'Brien, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at HappyWithBaby.com.  And today, we're talking about the importance of community. 

It really just got me thinking--a couple of weeks ago, I went to this amazing conference for therapists, for small business owners, and I knew I was going to get some tips and techniques on how to be more efficient, how to do things easier, how to be a better therapist, but the bigger thing that I came away with was the sense of community. 

There were some amazing therapists there, with years of experience and skills and all sorts of other strengths that I just never imagined.  They were so supportive and encouraging, and helped me see some things that I didn't see.  I think that is where community really is key. 

A week later, I was talking to expecting moms about making sure to have a good support system for after baby comes home and how hard it really is to do everything that you need to do.  You know, we weren't meant to do this all by ourselves. 

And it really dawned on me—that's why this conference was so powerful for me.  I really found some people that got where I was coming from, understood the challenges that I have.  And now, I know where to go to ask for help; where to go to get that extra support. 

The same is absolutely true for parents—we really need that kind of support.  There's so much we as new parents need to know and there's all these stages that we go through (and these stages can shift so quickly!). 

It's always helpful to have a parent that's been there already or one that's going through it now that can validate our experiences and feelings. 

We need someone to tell us, "Yeah, this is challenging, but here's a way to make it better,” or to just remind us that we’re not doing it by ourselves, that we do have the support we need. 

So, I really encourage you, if you don't have a good support system in place, to reach out and find one or create one for yourself.  Whether it's reaching out to family or friends that you already have, finding a community through a church affiliation, going to story times at the library, or finding parents that you meet at the park, don’t be afraid to ask questions, exchange phone numbers, or to meet for a play date or mom’s night out. 

Because if you're struggling to find a community of people, I can guarantee there are others in your area that are struggling to find that too.  You can look online. If you have a community resource page for your area, look on there.  Or, Meetup.com is a good place to look for different groups of parents or moms, or even dads that are looking for support systems or play groups. 

I started a Meetup group over six months ago and it has been such a great experience for a lot of moms in the group that say, “I didn't have anyone [for support] that I knew,” and being able to facilitate new connections for them.  With a Meetup group, you can find groups that have common interests like getting together for walks or having regular play groups, among many other things. 

It might seem like such a small thing, but I just think it's so important to have that extra support in whatever form that feels right for you. 

We aren't meant to do this alone. It's easier when you know people that have been on the path before you, so ask for help.  If you want to start a Meetup group, do it! 

Make space for fun and connection—whatever it takes to get that support and stability you need. 

Parenthood is a much better place to be when you're not doing it by yourself.