How to Create a Caring Network
Updated: Oct 3, 2019
Hello again people!
I am very excited to be writing this blog post for you today. One of my followers asked me the question below and I'm planning on answering it in this blog post in the best way that I know how! Please feel free to add your comments too!
Did it take a long time to build a caring network? I'm gonna be completely by myself when my husband moves away for work in a few weeks. I know I need a few more mates! Just as I'm a bit alternative I think I only can connect with like minded people.
First of all, what a great question! It brought me down to earth fairly quickly! In my previous post about how fabulous all us mother are, I spoke about how important it was to create a 'caring network' for yourself when your kiddies are young. On reflection, I spoke about it's importance but I didn't really give any solid methods on how to build such a network.
Very often, when you have your first kiddie, a lot of your mates haven't taken the leap yet - well that was my situation. So, I felt like I needed to make a new set of Mammy friends. To be honest, it was quite challenging because in the very early days I couldn't even get myself out of the house. Ladies, I'm sure you know what I am talking about, right? As soon as you think you have organised everything for your little one he/she starts to cry for food, or dirties his/her nappy or something happens to delay the entire event of getting out of the house!
So, once you have mastered how to get out of the house successfully, go to your local park, or try and find places where the local mummies hang out - maybe the coffee shop down the road, the local community centre, the beach if you live near it. Start to explore your area by going for walks with your little one. I understand they will be short walks to start with but it's great for the mind to get out and about, even if it's to get butter from the local supermarket!
Granted, you are not going to meet your next best mate at the local supermarket but you never know what might happen while you are out and about. I would say try and stick closest to who you are. Get into activities that you enjoy, because it's those activities that will last. For instance, I started my PhD a month before my first child was born. I know! But that is for another blog post!! Anyway, while on maternity leave I found out that there were lunches for student parents in my university. Every Monday, at a certain location on campus, parents got together to chat about their experiences of being a student parent, with their kids in tow! So, I joined with vigour! I was expecting to have a room full of friends within five minutes of landing at the place. I think one other mother turned up on that first day! However, that mother was a really nice lady and we swapped notes about certain motherhood challenges. The food was free, so it was quite a pleasant lunch. I went along the following week as well. More people turned up that week and slowly I got to know quite a few parents on campus as a result. Are we still friends? No. Mainly due to the fact that all faculties were represented at the lunches and so you wouldn't get to see these people on a daily basis. Also, I didn't 'click' with anyone there. However, for the time that my beautiful boy was young, it got me out and it helped me to realise, every parent has challenges and the desire to connect!
I also checked in my local community centre for mother/baby or toddler meetings and I went along to some of those. One thing I would recommend is to try and keep things local. In my enthusiasm during those early months, I drove across all of Dublin to join some classes and after a few weeks it became too much. See if you can find a group within walking distance of your home and pop along when you can. Oh and that is important - when you can! If you have time and if you are in the mood and if you can get out of the house - pop along then! Too many times us mothers feel the 'obligation' to do things that we 'should' be doing. Building your network has to be fun. As soon as it stops being fun DESIST!! You're not doing it right. Go back to the drawing board!
Then, there are of course, the online forums that you can explore. I know Rollercoaster.ie was my goto place when I was feeling the need to chat (I just checked - it's still going!). If you are not living in Ireland you will have to try and find out which sites are most popular in your area. The community health nurse in Ireland usually knows these things, or perhaps your paediatrician in other countries?? See if you can organise a meetup locally with some other mothers through one of these sites - or better still - put a sign up in your local community centre! Don't wait for others to do it - do it yourself if it feels right for you.
What I did was I created a Facebook page called 'PhD Moms'. It wasn't very local but I had members from all over! From Australia, Asia and Europe! I welcomed them and chatted with them online. I became friends with some of them on Facebook and I still am friends with some of them to this day - almost fourteen years later.
So I suppose what I am trying to say is that it is within you to forge your way. Be true to yourself and look for opportunities to build your network in the form that suits you as an individual. If you like Punk Rock, keep an eye out for others who like it too! If you like knitting, join or create a knitting group (mind those needles though!).
Most of all, you have a tiny human being (or two) that takes up most of your time, so with the little time that you have left, spend it with like-minded people wherever you can find them and keep looking until you do find them!