I spent the Memorial Day weekend in a house with four families- eight adults and eleven children ages 1-9. There was chaos, laughter, tears, triumph and defeat, and less sleep than usual. But we were with our village, our tribe, and it was beautiful. Summertime can bring many great opportunities and events, but it also brings less structure, routine, and sometimes less sleep. For those reasons, and others, summer is an important time for parents to be connected to other parents, friends, and family that are part of the village we use to raise our children.
There are many benefits to having the support of a group of people when it comes to raising our kids. One of my favorite things about the weekends with our village of friends is when the adults can be vulnerable about the ups and downs of life (parenting, family life, work, etc…) and support one another. It is hard to be vulnerable with others when we have internal and external pressure to be the best, to have it all together, and to succeed in all areas of life, including parenthood. Parents can build connections and develop systems of support in many ways. This summer, try a few of the following with your village:
Swap, share, and trade goods and services
- Take turns watching one another’s kids
- Create a meal share plan
- Set up carpools to and from activities
- Pass on hand-me-down clothes, supplies, books, and toys or consider hosting a “swap,” where families trade clothes, books, or toys
- Divide and conquer – “I’m good at organizing and you’re good at growing summer vegetables in your garden, let’s help each other out.”
Be there for each other
Let down your guard and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Confiding in others about your concerns and feelings provides opportunities to build emotional resilience, combat shame, and build connections. It takes courage to share about the areas where we need support and to ask for help, but this courage can lead to greater connection and beauty as we face life together. Additionally, parents can point out the good stuff about one another’s kids. Sometimes we struggle to remember the reasons we delight in our children when they aren’t sleeping well or we feel we’re losing the battle over screen time. Our village can offer a balanced (and fresh) perspective.
Helping out your friends and family in meaningful ways offers the additional benefit of modeling. Your children will see positive friendships, generosity, vulnerability, and empathy in action. This can be their guidepost for developing their own relationships.