A mom to be should know that “it takes a village to raise a child”
We’ve all heard of this quote, but we begin to understand its true meaning when we become parents.
We all think that we know what becoming a mom and having a child means; we learn about babies when we are children, read about it in books and watch it in series and movies. We see families in the streets and at restaurants. It’s part of human nature, and it’s everywhere. However, we are only truly aware of its concept, or idea.
There are numerous ways to “get ready” to become parents; whether we’ve always had an interest in children, or studied early years/education, or had a related profession, such as an au pair, nanny, etc. Or whether we know that we are about to become a mom, and so we read books, attend classes/training, listen to podcasts, etc. But planning for it and living it are two completely different worlds! All the confidence gained on the subject during the previous few months or years before it, will surely vanish as you are hit
with labour, birth, sleep deprivation and hormones. I’ve heard this quote somewhere before: “Birth is like a very big car accident. And as soon as this accident is over, when the recovering part of the process should begin, you are expected to be the main carer of this tiny human who was also in the car accident”. You are injured and it’s not really the best moment to care for someone else. But that’s what you have to do!
Nothing can fully prepare you for it. So here is the secret to survive and thrive: strong support and help, and a strong community.
Many generations ago, strong community was easy to have around you. Parents, grandparents, and siblings lived nearby in the same area as you, or even in the same house. They could be so present and involved in some cases that it could be hard for the mom to have one-on-one time with the baby! Nowadays however, it’s a completely different story; especially with expatriation being so common. If you’re lucky and still living within Europe, organising weekends or periods of time here and there to be with family is manageable. Although it’s manageable it’s nothing compared to having them in the same city with you.
But if you live further overseas, you would only be able to do that once or twice a year. Can you imagine this? So, you have to build your community support. And when you come from a different country, getting accurate information is not always so obvious or straightforward. Some of the traditions or cultural habits you may be accustomed to may differ completely from the ones in place in a different country.
Here in the UK, and in London especially, we have the chance to access a wide range of trained and experienced professionals, such as doulas, maternity nurses, mother’s help, sleep trainers, consultants and nannies, all ready to help. This is something you need to be aware of. You need to know the people that exist who can help you care for your child. And once you know and use their service, it makes your life so much easier!
There are also children’s centres and community centres in every neighbourhood. They offer support and guidance for parents, and they usually have midwives visiting weekly to offer baby check-ups and answer any questions. They also organise playgroups and classes for babies and parents, and they can point you in the right direction in case you need extra help or have specific concerns. This is what we have here in the UK; you need to search for what is available in your own country of residence.
Becoming a mom away from family can be very isolating, which is why going out to meet people going through the same experience, and knowing where to get information, support or help from will help you better face the challenges that lie ahead.
When you are ready to leave your little one with someone else to get some time-out for yourself, there will be different options present, depending on your needs. It may not be as simple and stress-free as leaving the baby with your own parents/family, but there are great babysitters, crèches, nannies, childminders and nurseries out there. You will be able to have from a couple of hours to a whole day or more, taking time out for yourself, having a break, and becoming a better mom by benefiting from this pause. How do you trust? Check the references, reviews, and recommendations. If many parents before you had a great experience, you can trust! You can definitely be reassured.
Education is a world in constant evolution, therefore, one person only can’t know or do all there is to know or do on the subject. Having an open mind to learn more about the subject, by listening and taking into account other people’s experiences and points of view, will add value to your own person, but also strongly benefit your children.
The “village” includes a variety of professionals, such as teachers and educators, health, nutrition or speech-language therapists, physicians, extracurricular facilitators, babysitters, sports or artistic coaches, youth workers from places of worship or community centres, summer camp instructors and many more!
Some of us are fortunate to also have extended family members – grandparents or aunts and uncles – who also contribute to our “village.” As a mom of young children, you can find yourself entrusting your little ones to a wide variety of caregivers and educators, and these people are your “village” – together, they form the team that helps support the emotional needs of your children to support their development: for a sense of security, to be heard and understood, affirmed in their individuality, encouraged to go further in acquiring diverse skills, to broaden their knowledge and understanding of the world around them, and to get to know one another as young people worthy of respect.
It takes a village to raise a child means an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to grow in a safe and healthy environment. Go get your village. Don’t go through Motherhood without it. No one can create it for you. Never forget that you’re not alone in your journey.