As a mom, you may have this idea that you have to do it ALL on our own. But is this true? Is it healthy? Is it even possible? Why do we place all this pressure on ourselves?
You look after our children all day long, squeezing in the dishes, the laundry, the cleaning. You cook three meals, prepare two snacks, change diapers, go to playgroups… And maybe you work full-time or part-time as well.
By the end of the day you are totally. completely. exhausted.
In the past, and in many modern non-western societies, raising children was something done communally. Extended families and communities worked together. In our western society today, this often isn’t the case.
So how can you create a supportive community where we find the help you need to take care of your family’s needs AND (and this is important too, all you martyr mamas!) nurture yourself?
The answer is surprisingly simple and also amazingly difficult given societal and internal expectations that many of us have of ourselves.
ASK FOR HELP.
You can’t do it alone. Correction, you can. You just can’t do it alone and maintain your sanity and often your physical health.
No man is an island. And no mama is an island either. Humans are hard-wired to be inter-dependent. Not independent (really! this can lead to anxiety and depression which plagues the western world), and not co-dependent either (that’s where you rely too much on one person in your life, like when couples spend ALL their time together and start to lose touch with family and friends).
Creating a supportive community is a give and take. Because I know you’re SO busy with your daily life, your kids, your job, all of it, how will you have time and energy to help other mamas too?
Fortunately (you may have already experienced this...) helping others feels good. It is energizing. It releases natural endorphins. So even if you’re exhausted helping someone else can perk you up. And you know what?
When you have more energy it’s amazing how time seems to magically stretch when it didn’t seem like there was time before. You don’t need to be Mother Theresa. Just a bit of help to your fellow mamas here and there really adds up!
For example, a friend of mine just had a baby. I wanted to do something to help. So I made a big pot of soup and I brought a big container of it over to her house for her family’s dinner, and my family ate the rest of it for our dinner.
I'm a busy working mom with young children myself. I could have easily told myself I didn't have the time to help her out, but I knew it wanted to do it and I knew it would feel god! My kids and I got to go over and meet the new baby, I enjoyed a visit with my friend, and I felt energized by doing something helpful for her and her family. It felt good all around and strengthened relationships and a sense of community.
What else could you do? Do you know a couple who is exhausted from parenthood and could really use a night out? Invite their kids over to play with your kids so they can go out to dinner.
Little things like that. They make a huge difference and really build community.
However... if you are a new mom: it's totally ok to just receive. The above advice is not for you;) You are already giving so much to your baby. When your baby is a little older and you have more space and time then give what you can!
Now, for the really tough one. Asking for help. Ironically harder than giving help for many in our society!
It’s ok to ask for help. REALLY, it is.
Then why does it feel so hard?
You could explore what you think it means about you to ask for help.
Does it mean you’re somehow defective or not good enough if you can’t do everything on your own? Does it mean you’re needy? Or are you afraid if inconveniencing people and being a burden?
Sit with it and see what comes up for you. And then ask yourself if it’s really the truth. If you want to be a part of a supportive community, letting people help you is part of the deal.
And remember, if it feels good for you to help other mamas, they will feel good helping you out too.
And when you get help, RECEIVE it. Let it in. Appreciate it. Enjoy it. You deserve it. Really. We all do.
Remember, no mama is an island.
May you live your life in full bloom…
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