The Importance of Community for Calm
Everyone knows the saying, “It takes a village to raise kids.” It was a saying I’d certainly heard of but meant nothing to me until I moved to a new city with my new husband and his three new-to-me kids, especially after adding a fourth to the mix while he traveled continuously for work. I am not exaggerating when I say I felt the depths of isolation and lack of support from not having (a local) community.
Who would I go to if I needed help and he was out of town? How could I do my job and get the kids everywhere they needed to be? How would I make dinner if I was sick? Chaos-stricken, I knew I had to get proactive about creating my village.
Why you shouldn’t be your kids’ everything
Research shows it’s healthier for a child to have more than just their parents in their lives. In older times, kids grew up in tribes with daily in-person access to their grandparents and extended families. Everyone looked out for each other, and kids could find a trusted adult at any time to connect with on various needs. Now, families are scattered around the world, and 38% of kids have single parents.
Parents can’t and shouldn’t be a child’s be-all and end-all. Think about all the roles you’re trying to fill: Cook, coach, mediator, educator, therapist, cleaner, entertainer, nurse, and more. That’s a lot of pressure on one human being; no wonder you’re feeling stressed. No one is an expert at all things. We all have different gifts and skills we can offer our children. Some moms, for example, might be excellent at helping with homework but would instead lick a millipede than play hide-and-seek one more time.
The more opportunities your kids have to be around trusted adults, the more likely they will bond, feel safe, share, and feel heard. With community, your kids can openly express all the parts of themselves they can’t get just from you.
A child needs to learn from many multi-faceted humans. What adult can give them a playful experience? Who can they vent their fears to? Who can give them advice on friends? Who can teach them what juice is best with vodka (kidding!) Perhaps a particular teacher is gifted at building your child’s confidence, or maybe the mom of one of their friends is a fellow bookworm or music aficionado they can bond with.
Having a community of people you connect with and trust around your kids provides them access to many superpowers, not just yours.
Parents have become increasingly distrustful and protective. Who can blame us when we’re exposed to the worst of humanity in a constant stream of news all day? The negative result is that our kids have become more sheltered, which not only harms their growth but also creates more chaos in our world as busy parents who need to lean on each other for support.
Community: What’s in it for you?
When you have a community, you not only have people in your corner who can be there for your kids, but they can be there for you, too.
Community gives you a feeling of belonging and a sense of security. Being part of a community can give you purpose and meaning, all of which promote calm.
Letting loose with your people is great for calm and self-care! Think about how great it feels to have a deep heart-to-heart over coffee or let your hair down with someone who gets you.
Additionally, being with others with shared experiences can be comforting, helping you feel less alone and offering an opportunity for emotional processing and healing. Connecting with others and engaging in activities as part of a community can also provide a welcome distraction from negative thoughts and emotions.
So how do you find your people?
I built my calm community from scratch, and I started by giving my time. I’d look for opportunities to help others first. For example, I overheard a parent saying they were stressed about leaving work early to make basketball drop-offs and pickups on time. Since I work from home, I said, “Hey, we’re going in the same direction; what if I pick up your kids on my way?”
This is not to say you overly give time you don’t have, but when you give, it most likely will be reciprocated.
Get proactive about finding your people rather than waiting for them to come to you. Be on the lookout for people you feel match your family: Who are you meeting or coming across at your kids’ schools, daycares, playgroups, playgrounds, and sports teams? With babies, look for mom groups in areas that have similar interests, groups like Stroller Strides or Mama Yoga. Your church or temple could be a great place to find your people. MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) is a great example. And if you can’t find one, start one! No doubt other local parents are looking for the same support you are.
So, find your people! To not only benefit your kids but to bring more calm into your life.
For more on how to own your calm, order my book!
Reach out, I’m here for you.