Are you a mum wanting more support or connection in your life?
Below are the top 5 ways I have found to stay connected while in the busy world of mothering …
As mothers we want connection because it feels good to have others to talk with, laugh and cry with, and enjoy the miracles of parenting with. Connection and support makes us feel stronger and more capable of facing the important and huge job of parenting. We don’t want to do it alone and sometimes our partner/ husband/ wife/ significant other or single status can’t support us all the times we need it. Although we often hear it said that ” it takes a village to raise a child”, we rarely hear that the mothers also need a village of support.
A Brief Introduction:
Over 10 years ago as a new mum, as well as a newly single mum, I desperately needed community. And I didn’t have any. I had moved to a new town to be with family after separating from my child’s father and found myself building friendships and community from the ground up while learning to be a parent for a whole new Person. Lemme tell you, it was Big.
In the last ten years I have learnt so much about community; how to build it, how to nourish it, to give and receive from it. I’ve studied and practiced various forms of conscious parenting, including “Hand-in-Hand”, had my own online business selling blessing and crafty kits to help parents welcome their baby’s with the support of their community, massaged 100’s of pregnant women and have fumbled my way through.
Growing children is miraculous and huge, and it deserves Lots of support and encouragement.
So, let’s get into it!
Wisdom Body’s Top 5 Ways to Get More Support and Connection while Parenting:
How do we create and sustain authentic connection and support when our hours are filled with our child? Just like all good sustainable “projects”, we start from the ground up with structure, routine and predictability. Once we have these foundations in place we can move into expressing needs and vulnerability, giving to others and creating celebration and ritual.
Structure, Regularity and Routine:
A Structure is something solid we can rest into. It is there whether we are having a good day, a bad day or an “I don’t know what the f#@k is going on” day.
When we are wanting to build more support and connection (and maybe even fun) in our parenting world, it can be a vulnerable place if we are in need. This is where stepping into a pre-established Structure is the kindest way to begin. Because connection is built on trust, safety and some sense of predictability.
Pre-established structures for mums are play groups, Kindy Gyms, library reading days etc. You can find out about what is in your area through your local newspaper or noticeboards, if not through an online search.
In a similar way that Structure gives us something reliable to lean back on, so too does Regularity and Routine. Our bodies and emotions benefit from this deeply.
As a mum, you’ve probably experienced by now the benefits of having a regular routine for your child or children. When they know what to expect from you and what is expected of them, they can rest back into the routine like it’s a holding structure for them. Then all their tears and frustrations are held inside this known support. It is just the same for us as adults.
Have you noticed when life is more chaotic and unpredictable, your child will be more unruly, more prone to tantrums, will tire easier and be generally less predictable? Again, does the same apply for you? Do your emotions go a little out of whack if you don’t get enough sleep, or sleep and eat different amounts at different times of the day through your week?
We can take care of our inner routines in the way we eat and sleep, and we can lean into our outer routines of regular connection and sharing.
In building connection with others, a routine can be a wonderful resting place. To know that every Tuesday and Thursday you will see these women, be in this environment, do these things. The predictability in itself can literally be a support for you. And it can be a place you be totally yourself because it is just There for you.
Do the daily stuff together:
Did you know that women get a hit of the hormone serotonin when we spend time together, talk and share our day? Serotonin is a pleasure hormone which responsible for maintaining mood balance, social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, sexual desire and function. A deficit of serotonin can lead to depression and throw out your ability to regulate your eating and sleeping. Basically, we are biologically wired to be together communally, especially to parent together. I think that’s just Awesome. That your general body regulation and appetite for sex can be improved by hanging out with the gals. (Your partner may love to hear that news!!)
But don’t take my word for it; have you noticed a change in how you feel after spending time with women folk? Is the parenting is easier?
You can do your cooking together, do your shopping together or for each other when you’re unwell. An awesome idea that I encountered early on was Mumma Bake groups. These groups gather once a week to cook together and prepare big batches of dinner, cakes and sweets for the week. You spend a day with the women folk and the little ones around and go home with a week load of nourishing food, and some appetite for more of a different kind of pleasure!!
Check out: http://mamabake.com/5-steps-to-mamabaking/
What other ways could you combine the day to day activities of parenting with women and togetherness?
In my time as an early mum, I got very good at resting into structure and routine with my connections. I would go to weekly classes and mothers group. I would do the predictable things, and I would look forward to these because I didn’t have to plan it, I didn’t have to invite people or specifically reach out to anyone.. I could just turn up. I Loved that I could just turn up.
But it was missing that crucial element of heart, that of me being vulnerable enough to reach out to those I wanted more time and support with. It was the difference between resting into structure, and moving, choosing and breathing within it and sometimes even free from it. This is the yin (resting) and yang (action) of connection and support.
Once you have Structure, Routine and daily predictability in your parenting world.. what about some Heart .. or in other words,
Lets go deeper into Creating connection …
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and “need”:
Real connection and community is actually vulnerable stuff. You know, when we see each other regularly, we are guaranteed to see a bit of each others’ shadows (yes, no matter how hard we try and hide it). And although this can be scary, it’s the stuff of really satisfying relationship. It is only when we let our hard shell crack a little that others can come in and we can come out to meet them with our real selves. I believe this is what we humans are craving and looking for.
In the busy world of parenting we need so much affirmation and support for the part of us that is learning, for the part of us that is challenged by our child or our life situation. And it’s hard to receive support if we cant show what is authentically going on.
So my words to you are, be brave and allow yourself to be seen. Being vulnerable actually makes people feel closer to you, and then they have a rare and clear chance to meet your needs, to be there for you, to listen or hold you in just the way you need it.
Hallelujah! What a beautiful thing that is!
Give support and stay in touch:
Which brings us to … Giving. We give because we are part of the communal structure. When you are feeling anchored in your structures, in your routine, are receiving enough pleasure through village-like togetherness, have some space of authenticity and vulnerability, you are in a place to deepen and give back to the group that has held you. As I’m sure you have seen in your parenting journey, giving before we have these foundations in place can be a messy and draining affair. When we give back from a place of fullness and love we can enrich the world we live in.
Suggestions: Offer to shop for a sick friend, consciously stay in touch with a family having trouble with their child. Offer what you love and are good at. Maybe you love flowers, so drop some at a friends door with a simple note (or no note and make it an anonymous gift.. extra fun!). Maybe you are good at playing silly with the kids, offer to do that while your friend rests, shops, creates or works. In this way you create a living, breathing organism of heart, connection and support that will feed you effortlessly too when you need it.
Staying in touch these days is made so accessible through modern media, but not necessarily something we remember when we’re having a hard time or are busy with children. I encourage you to create a special group on Facebook or in your email contacts where you can share life stories, special moments and big things with your Mamma Bake or Kindy Gym friends.. and just stay part of each others lives. The more you use your connecting tools, the richer it will be for you in your life.
Go still for a moment and ask in your heart, who could do with some love right now?
Hint: Hand written letters, drawings, paintings or an art piece will tend to make someone feel more connected than a quick Facebook message. They tend to be something you want to keep on your window sill and look at regularly. If you don’t feel inclined to write out a conversational letter 10 times to each woman, photocopy it! It still has a special personal quality.
Celebrate and create Rituals:
In the busy-ness of life with children make sure you have time to celebrate what is going well. We can mark special moments with a picnic on soft grass with friends when our child takes their first step, or a café morning when all our children have their first day at school.
Your community will have its own flavor and preferred way of celebrating. Maybe it is centered around food, maybe being active in nature, doing craft together or being at your favorite café. Amongst my community dance has played a huge role. For years when my child was young we would have many big gatherings to celebrate birthdays or moving house; where great music was played and everyone including the kids would dance for hours. This was such a magnificent way to celebrate and deepen my sense of being fed by my community.
Whatever it is for you, create time where pleasure and togetherness are the most important things in your weeks’ calendar. Don’t book a Dr checkup on that day and really Take In the support and love of your connections.
The more “in need” you are of connection and support, the more you will benefit from structure, routine and regularity. When you need to let go and rest for whatever reason, find a solid structure to support you. This may be your partner , family member or best friend before it is the local yoga baby class. When you are less in need, and more ready to create fun and enjoyment in your connections, reach for these later tools of sharing your authentic self, giving support, staying in touch and creating opportunities for celebration.
As we deepen into the connection and support of our community, our child and our family will feel the benefits. The more you use your community to support and witness you through the mundane and the profound, the more you’ll feel held by your community. So you’ll have more togetherness, more effortless support, more connection.. and more Fun!
Over to you: How do you create the support and connection you want in your life? What works for you and doesn’t work for you? Please share in the comments section below ..
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