It takes a village to raise a child, they say. I'm not sure who 'they' are, but I had never heard this saying before I had a baby. Obviously since the arrival of my daughter, it resonates a wee bit more! To be frank, I'm not sure I would have really understood quite what it meant in any case in those misty, pre-baby days. Because you don't, do you? Get how hard the old child-rearing thing is until you've got one of your own.
The shock of new parenthood is something I went through myself and is also a key refrain for the majority of new parents we meet, both on retreats and in real life. Getting all prepared for the birth, which, FYI, was hard enough, but actually not having any clue what's supposed to happen the other side seems to be the norm these days.
Of course in ye olden days, you had your family around, usually not just your immediate family but the rest of the extended clan too. Plus your family was likely to be bigger, so you'd probably seen your brothers and sisters, cousins and pet gerbils being brought up, and lent a hand to boot. Oh and the next-door neighbours, and Mrs Jones from number 4 were always about to pitch in too. Everyone was in everyone else's business. And though I certainly can't relate to that experience, you can bet it made things a hell of a lot easier when your own precious bundle popped out.
Which is just the trouble, I find. There's so much information out there focusing on the antenatal stuff, childbirth (what, that old thing?!) and how to make it through probably the biggest moment in your life so far, but there's a dearth of courses, meet-ups, and resources for when you're out the other side trying to tackle (you've guessed it) the biggest thing in your life so far! Your parents are likely to live inconveniently far away from you, you might not have that many other siblings whom you've helped to bring up, and you're finding it all a bit overwhelming. Of course there are some amazing people out there, helping new parents through their awesome businesses, but they're currently in the minority.
I've been lucky enough to come across some fantastic groups and sites in my panic as a new mum and on my journey as a mumpreneur, and I'm on a mission to shout from the rooftops about them! Nurturing Mums, run by Lucinda Hutton, which offers expert advice, a chance to make friends and ask all those silly questions you just can't get Dr Google to give a firm answer on at 3am. There are some amazing Pelvic Floor specialists too, like our own Amanda Savage whose website is a godsend for new mums, when your GP just doesn't have the time to deal with your issue or refer you to the right person. Wellvine is an online platform for video consultations with healthcare professionals, with particular focus on family wellbeing (GPs, lactation consultants, child nutritionists etc) so you can reach out to someone trustworthy face-to-virtual-face when you're in new parent panic mode.
Of course, it doesn't have to be a full-on organisation that you turn to; part of building your own village is knowing when to reach out for help. Your parents might not be close by, but they'll probably hop on the next train down if you ask them. Your friends are just waiting to give you a hand, and what else is your partner for if not for sharing the load? And PLEASE sort out some childcare so you can get a bit of time on your own - I'm talking about you and your partner as well as purely mummy-time. I know it sounds obvious, but I was such a stubborn new mum that I thought I had to do and know everything, without a hand up from anyone; so it took me ages to follow my own advice. My mum did always say I was pig-headed.
The village won't get built overnight, but encouraging each other to reach out is a great start. It's so good to see that the foundations are in place, and to find that we're in there leading the way one retreat at a time.
Learn more about creating your own village at our next event on the 9th June at Project: Me in Crouch End. Book here.
Project: Me massages, &Breathe pilates for mum and baby or pregnancy, Wellvine healthcare professionals, expert Q&A, self-care time, yummy food and gorgeous goody bags AND super new friends!