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The Lost Village

So apparently there’s a Smurf film called The Lost Village, but this is not what this blog is about!

The Lost Village I’m talking about is the multigenerational community which humans evolved to live and bring up a child in. Where people know each other well, share the highs and lows of everyday life, help in times of need and look out for each other’s children and the elderly. The village is where everyone contributes to the group that securely holds them, but most of us don’t have this anymore.

Without a village, as a new parent…

We feel huge pressure and responsibility as we try to do what entire communities used to provide. We’re so busy trying to make up for the interaction, stimulation and learning opportunities that were once within walking distance. We can often feel we’re not doing enough, or enough of the “right” things. Partnerships are also heavily burdened by the needs that used to be spread among communities.

We may feel less safe, more anxious or lonelier without the known boundaries, expectations and support of a well-known group of people. We can feel judged, misunderstood and isolated.

Depression and anxiety increases, at a time in our lives when we know we need more support than ever but don’t have the energy to find it, or it’s not common or easy to ask for it. We can think we’re supposed to be independent, and feel awkward or ashamed of our need for help or company. We are often praised for being able to do it all on our own and are expected to wear it as a badge of honour.

Parent guilt is enormous: not playing enough, not working enough, working too much, too much screen time, not enough downtime, too many activities, not enough activities etc!

And lastly, it can distort our sense of self and our core values. We can feel our inadequacies are to blame for our struggles, then think we should do even more to make up for them.

The reality is traumatic births, loneliness, sleepless nights, feeding issues, all sorts of health problems in the baby like colic, reflux, allergies… and all while adapting to a new identity of being a parent. We may love it one day but feel dreadful the next! Nowadays too, there is social media which brings heaps of comparison, tons of information overload and piles of expectations.

This all sounds doom and gloom so what can we do about it?!

Write out what being a mother means to you. Look at what your mum, grandmother etc did and with what support. Do you think you should be doing more? Is your idea of motherhood realistic? Your high expectations come from good intentions, you want to be the best you can for your child, but maybe ease off the pressure and know you are more than enough.

Explore your needs. We all have unmet needs but as new parents, you focus even more on the needs of someone else, your little one. What might you need to re-connect with? People, your values, your passions, nature?

What groups do you belong to or what groups could you join? Something for you, that sparks joy and where you feel valued. This could be a baby group, a social one or a hobby. Make connections, step out your comfort zone, be vulnerable, gain support and have fun.

Set boundaries. A really nice way of thinking of this, is ask yourself “What am I saying yes to?” rather than what you’re saying no to. Eg Instead of saying no to going to an event you’re not keen on, think of it as saying yes to re-charging or spending quality time with certain people at home.

Practise self-compassion and self-care. Self-care is widely talked about but people still push it aside as a luxury but it can be critical to our well-being and therefore our child’s well-being. Self-compassion is talking kindly to ourselves. Instead of listening to the inner critic who is trying to sabotage your thoughts, feelings and actions, listen to the inner ally who talks to you like you would to your best friend, (or even your pet!).

Remember, if you’re struggling, it’s not a reflection of any inadequacies, but the unnatural cultural circumstances we’re living in. Creating your own village as best you can is so important. Putting this support in place before the baby comes is ideal but it’s never too late. This may be asking parents or friends for more help, finding a good parenting network, joining positive online support groups, or not feeling pressured to go back to work before you’re ready. Sharing the parenting, house jobs and mental load as a couple is also key, which means being honest and communicating well.


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