I love the African Proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ because it resonates with every parent in some way or another. This parenting gig is tough going at times and I believe that having a village of people to support you, to rely on and to walk this journey with, is vital to a healthy and happy family unit. It also just really handy to have someone to call when you need to have a shower!
Without getting too deep into the situation I suffered some serious postnatal anxiety when my first son was born in 2014. Since having my second baby and having a completely different (and much lovelier) mental health experience it got me wondering why.
You see, our first son was born when we lived far from home. We were fairly new to the city, were meant to be there temporarily (for work) and were 1000km away from our family and friends. I had a new baby, in an unfamiliar city and my village was missing.
Who do you need in your village?
The question is – who should and should not be in your village? It is true that some people make life sweeter and others make it stressful. The last thing you need when you have a newborn baby is additional stress and pressure.
Keep in mind, I believe that as your child grows, your village may also grow and change. This beautiful but life-changing season called parenthood is not an adventure you want to go on alone.
Here is a list of six of the characters I believe you might want to have with you on the journey.
Cast of Characters
1. The Midnight Call
This is the person in your village who you know you can call at any time of the day or night and if needed, they will come running. For me, this person is my Mum.
A baby with a high temp – call Mum. Our four-year-old read a book for the first time – call Mum (although that one doesn’t have to be done at midnight). I understand that not everyone has their Mum, but I believe it is important to find that person in your world who has a tank full of unconditional love for you and would be there without hesitation in moments of need.
2. The Drop in
This person is the one in your village who you do not mind dropping in unannounced. In fact, it is appreciated. You see their car pull up, with their arms full of goodies and you don’t care that you are still in your pajamas at 2am. With a newborn – that certainly can happen.
They come into your world like a breath of fresh air, add something magical – and possibly even practical like cleaning the dishes or hanging some washing on the line – and they leave you feeling lighter.
3. The Cook
This is the person in your village who (especially important in the newborn phase) brings you food. They stock your freezer and make sure you are able to feed yourself.
4. The Fun One
This is your friend in your village (or perhaps group of friends) you can hang with when you need some time out from being a mum.
These are the friends you can laugh with, you can cry with and who can relate to the ups and downs of the parenting journey. These are the friends who understand that you might not have time to see them every week but when you do have a catch-up – it is quality.
5. The Next Door Neighbor
If you can have a neighbor as part of your village, there is nothing better. We live in a neighborhood where we all help each other all the time. When someone is in need, there are numerous people living on our street we can call for help and know that they will be there.
6. The Teacher
The classroom teacher is a crucial member of your village especially when your child is older. When your child reaches school age, they are spending almost as much waking time with their teacher as they are with you on an average day.
Working together with your child’s teacher is so important for your child’s education. Their love of learning and approach to learning is consolidated by the partnership between school and home.
Find out more about the importance of communication between school and home.
It takes a village. It really is so true. There was once a time that people lived in close community and shared everything and there were no fences between homes. There are still many cultures today that do this well.
We need to get better at it again. So gather the aunties, the uncles, the grandparents and the characters that make up your village and work together to raise your children in a community of love and support.
Shannon is the lead writer for The Schooled Parent and writes regular posts relevant to the education, schooling, and development of primary school children. Shannon has been a teacher for 13 years, has a psychology degree and has also achieved her Masters of Education (majoring in Guidance and Counselling). Above all, Shannon is the mother of two little boys – a gorgeous, redheaded four-year-old and a chunky, delicious six – month old.