I had heard the old adage that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and I loved the idea. I was lucky enough to have amazing support from friends and family but I soon realised that I needed something else as well, and as a very independent, self-reliant person this came as a bit of a surprise. I needed other mums. Mums like me, who lived near me, with whom I could share the ups and downs of being a new mum. A village. A tribe.
In today’s society we have lost that village in its literal sense – unless you are lucky enough to live in an actual village where you are offered practical, emotional support from women across the generations and where traditions and wisdom are passed down. (If so, hold on to that and let us know where it is!)
The benefits of finding your village of support are huge as you learn to grow and evolve into your new role as a mum. Your village provides emotional support and advice through shared experience which in turn helps reduce anxiety knowing that you have people around you who can help, reassure, listen, perhaps even getting you out of the house if they happen to live nearby, or if not, then at least, out of a rut and feeling less isolated and crucially, that you are not in this alone. It gives you chance to be you, to be a social being, and catch up on life outside of your baby/children, which is really important for your wellbeing and mental health. I am so grateful for finding my tribe when I needed them most, giving me strength, support, inspiration, love and welcome distraction, and they have become firm friends for life, not just for the baby years.
For most of us, busy lives, favouring the ease of technological communication over personal communication, and perhaps a more nomadic lifestyle moving around from place to place, and no longer in the same house , village or sometimes even country as our families, may mean that we barely know our neighbours let alone our village and we may not yet be a part of the local community or be finding it hard to fit in.
So where do we turn? How do we create our own village and find our own tribe?
* Get Social. Follow the mums who inspire you and join in the conversations on social media as a good starting point to open up connections and share experiences. @DaisyFoundationUK has a fantastic online peer support group for mums to empower and connect with other mums and you’ll find other online groups that appeal and resonate with you. Try some of these to get you started:
Mountain Meets – facilitate walks and talks in nature and virtual village events (co-founded and hosted by myself and the lovely Sam Wheeler)
Mums Mindfulness Matters – A new local group based around Abergavenny supporting mums through meet ups and groups run by local mums and their families to raise mental health awareness
Brecon Mums Matter (Brecon & District Mind) – an adapted remote programme to support mums to be and mums with babies up to 2 years old, feeling any of the following: low, stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, having worrying thoughts and feelings. To find out more, please call Sarah on 07535 385512 or Ros on 07399 583415 or email email@example.com
* Go where other mums like you would go. Think about your area and find out where the playgroups, parks, baby/toddler groups, breastfeeding support groups (we are so lucky to have the amazing Brecon BIBS group in Brecon and Abergavenny breastfeeding support group in this area, both of which are offering online support until it is safe to meet up regularly again), mums wellbeing classes (things like postnatal classes, yoga, aqua aerobics, running clubs, buggy fitness and mindfulness classes and so on) and baby friendly cafes and meeting spaces are (we have lots in this area such as Bean and Bread and the brand new Marlow’s Place in Abergavenny, Ambika Social (a fab outdoor cafe in Linda Vista Gardens, Abergavenny that’s perfect for little ones – play area nearby & kid-friendly options) and Vamos in Crickhowell to name just a few) and go there. Libraries and community centres/village halls are a good place to start your search if you aren’t sure what’s on and check local newspaper listings. There may be courses you could do with, or without your child if you have childcare options, where you will meet others too. Once there, be brave, start a conversation with another mum and it may lead to a coffee and a chat and perhaps the start of your ‘village’.
Links to breastfeeding groups and postnatal fitness below:
Sweaty Mama Abergavenny, Brecon & Surrounding Areas – fun and effective postnatal workouts for mums and babies/children from 6 wks – 4 yrs old+. Alecs runs online and face to face options currently.
Intimate Being – yoga, pranayama and meditation courses at Brecon Subud Hall, especially beneficial for anyone experiencing stress, isolation or any kind of disconnect from others and the world.
*Join a baby class like Daisy Baby Tinies or Wrigglers and meet other local mums. Being part of a community of mums in a class that supports your postnatal recovery, and gives you confidence as a mum through baby massage, baby yoga, sensory experience for baby and movements, songs and stories that aid your baby’s development and are baby led, welcoming you to relax and respond to your baby’s needs first, is a fantastic way to bond with your baby and connect with other like-minded mums in your area. Coffee dates can be arranged before or after the class and you can build up rapport and that all important sense of community and find your village.
*Can’t find any local groups or not sure where is baby-friendly in your area? Put out a post on your local area community. Facebook page or local message boards (bus-stops, community centres, local shops and supermarkets usually have them) and ask for advice from other mums or see if anyone else is in the same boat and fancies a meet-up. Talk to other friends who may know mums with kids of the same age as yours, ask mums at nursery, pre-school, the school gates etc…if they fancy a coffee. It may sound daunting to put yourself out there, but it’s so worth it to meet like-minded mums who live near you.
*You could also set up your own ‘Mother’s Meeting’ or join a group like @thelonelyparentclubabergavenny who facilitate meetings in the area or why not set up your own informal mothers group? I wanted to connect with more local mums and dads in my area and create a community wide ‘village’ of support and a social network so recently started @mountainmeets and @mountainmumsuk with a friend to do just that. After all, if you can’t find what you are looking for, then create it and make it happen yourself. You will be surprised how many people are looking for the same thing and it just takes 1 person to get something brilliant started.
Ceri Elms – Perinatal Educator, The Daisy Foundation Abergavenny, Brecon and Crickhowell