I needed to hear stories about what they were doing about their babies not sleeping, ever. I needed to know if they were transitioning them from the family bed to their own rooms. Really I needed to hear that what I was doing was not damaging my child.
For those of you who may be looking for such a tribe, you could try what has been my ‘parenting safe place’ for many years now. I now help admin this group and I can vouch for its tact and careful screening process so that the community and the conversation is respectful and full of good advice. No group of 5000+ people is every going to be perfect every day but this is one of the good ones.
I’m not a religious person but I often find myself thinking that religion has its perks. Namely, that your church often becomes your community. People you spend time with, can depend on and share your joys and sorrows with. People you can call when you are in need and they will help. I am willing to be this type of person for other parents. I just don’t want to have to go to church to do it.
So instead I’m trying to create my micro-village, perhaps I should call it The Church of Parenthood.
When I meet parents in my city and in my neighbourhood I try to really talk to them. To get past the questions of how old our kids are and where we work and find out more about them. And I push myself (and believe me when I say that for me I have to push myself) to set up seeing them again. I invite them for dinner. This is all very much still a work in progress but I know it is important work. I can’t do this alone. I don’t want to. My kids don’t want that.
Imagine a re-defined commune of sorts. Neighbourhoods where families have their own homes but they share outdoor space. Where you don’t spend life shut in your own house or yard. Where you help each other prepare meals and someone always has their eye on the kids but no one needs to hover, because the older ones and the younger ones spend time together. Where you never, ever have to organize another playdate again.
Did I mention that I detest the culture of the playdate? Scheduling short periods of time our kids can play together often feels forced. While I do plan them (since that’s the way most families work these days) I much rather let play and time together organically emerge from just being around our other people in our neighbourhood. And don’t get me started on the seemingly new trend of high rates of people cancelling out on planned activities at the last minute.
These neighbourhoods do exist here and there, you’ll find pockets of community in apartment buildings and on city streets but I hope one day they become more of a norm, that city planners and developers take hold of the idea of micro-villages and design urban spaces with it in mind.
For the health of families, I want this to be the future. For the present, I will keep working on creating my own.
Jessica Braidwood is an entrepreneur and an unschooling attachment parent. She lives on the West Coast of Canada in Victoria, BC with her husband and 2 kids. She blogs at Pocketful of Pebbles and believes strongly in intentional living and finding the village families need to be successful.