It Takes A Village To Raise Children. Here’s How To Build Yours.

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Family gathering over dinner with friends because it takes a village

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Parenting is one of if not the hardest jobs a person will ever do. There’s no clocking out at 5 pm. There’s no leaving your work at the office. You are always on call and every single personal need or desire must take second place after your children’s needs. If you have a family, you know this all too well. But are you asking for help? Nobody can be expected to do it all on their own – especially parents. And according to Zero to Three, nearly half of parents don’t feel they have the support they need. However, Black mothers might be most at risk for not asking for help. If you feel pressure to be strong for everyone else – which is something MADAMENOIRE has explained leads to depression – then you might not feel comfortable admitting when you could use some support.

Know this: if you see a parent for whom it all seems to come easily, they have a support system. The reason they aren’t pulling their hair out is that they have people they lean on when they’re at their wit’s end. It takes a village to raise children. There’s nothing shameful about it: it’s beautiful. So if you’re struggling, here’s how to start building your village.

 

Create a Co-Worker Support Group

Shot of a young woman using a laptop and smartphone while caring for her adorable baby girl at home

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Find other parents in your workplace and create a network. It’s important to connect with others who understand exactly what you’re going through. And your co-workers who work at the same company as you who also have kids can relate to your experiences. Maybe you feel that your company could implement more policies to support working parents, like childcare stipends or more work-from-home days. This network can approach the higher-ups together as a united front.

 

Get On A Care Exchange

Aunt and niece eating in the kitchen

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Childcare gets expensive. But, sometimes, you need a night to yourself, or you need a date night with your partner. Maybe a work emergency comes up and you have to go into the office when you have no babysitter. Create a network of other parents who regularly need childcare but perhaps can’t afford full-time help. You can have each other’s backs, taking one another’s kids when emergencies come up or when someone just needs one night to unwind.

 

Let Family Help

Mother and kids enjoying time together while relaxing sitting on a bench outdoors in a park.

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If you have family who live in the area, let them help – especially if they have already offered. Sometimes, there can be concerns about other family members parenting your kids or pushing their beliefs onto them. But, so long as you set up clear boundaries and keep the lines of communication open, family can be a great support system.

 

Get On A Family App

Mother with baby working at home

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Today, there are plenty of apps that allow you to communicate with other parents and compare schedules. MN lists some here that are technically for co-parenting, but many could also be shared among your village. Some of these apps let everyone access the same calendar, make notes of when they can step in, designate which days they’ll handle the after-school snacks and more.

 

Look On Social Media

Happy black family during home renovation process.

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If you’re struggling to find a village through your coworkers, family or friends, look on social media. There might be parenting groups in your neighborhood. These can be excellent resources for asking for help, asking questions, gathering information about family-friendly activities and getting referrals for great babysitters. If no such group exists yet, maybe you can be the one to create one for your area.

 

Get To Know Your Neighbors

Sisters playing on the playground

Source: Renata Angerami / Getty

There are so many great reasons to know your neighbors. Within them, you might find your handyman, your dog walker and – you guessed it – your childcare. If you’re aware of other families in the area with kids about the same age as yours, introduce yourself. Have them over for dinner. Having someone close by who can take your kids in an emergency – or just give you some diapers when you’re out and the stores are closed – is invaluable.

 

Befriend Seniors In Your Community

Eccentric African American woman staring at camera

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If there are any senior citizens living in your neighborhood, befriending them can be beautifully mutually beneficial. Your elderly neighbors might not have many friends or family around, and you can be the support system that they need. You can pick up groceries for them, check in on them and just help them feel they have someone to lean on. Likewise, if they are retired or widowed, they might love the chance to babysit your children. Children bring a lot of light and energy into a home, so caring for your kids might be something that brings your senior neighbor a lot of joy.

 

Give Help Where It’s Needed

Happy black family preparing pancakes in the kitchen.

Source: skynesher / Getty

Part of building a village is contributing to it as much as you take from it. If you notice a parent struggling, offer to help. Volunteer to babysit the children of a single parent in your neighborhood so they can have one night with their friends. Bring over food to parents of newborns who don’t have time to cook. Look for opportunities to help other parents, and you’ll probably find that that support comes back to you tenfold.

 

Build your village and chosen family. Read more at MadameNoire.com/whatmovesyou

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