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It Really Does Take A Village To Raise A Child

As the African proverb goes, “It takes a village to raise a child”. Clare Tully from The Tully Tales tells us about her personal experience of learning to use and grow her own village. 

Growing up, I remember being surrounded by siblings, cousins and friends. Endless afternoons spent outside playing, and calling over to friends houses without a second thought. Our house was always full of kids, and we regularly went to friends for sleepovers. Cousins spent nights in our house when their parents were away, and vice versa. If kids were in our house at dinner time, my mother fed them. There was a village, and we all had a place in it.

These days, the village seems far away. We’re expected to juggle it all on our own – raising kids, holding down a career, keeping an immaculate home (if only!). We ferry kids to playdates, supervise homework, and spend our weekends shuffling from football practice to dance class – all in an effort to raise active and socially responsible individuals. We try to keep fit, stay up with office demands, and have a presentable meal on the table at dinnertime. And all the while making it look effortless.

No wonder we’re all exhausted, burnt out, and stressed out!

From my own experience, we lived in the US until our son was 6 months old – some 5,000 miles from most of our family. We were very lucky to have my in-laws nearby, but that was as far as our village went. While I was on maternity leave, it was isolating and overwhelming to juggle raising our little boy with the day-to-day tasks that life brings, and keeping it together. Since we’ve moved home, we definitely have more help, with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles around. However, I still regularly find myself in the mindset of having to do it all myself. God forbid, I would show any weakness and ask for help. Particularly now that I’m a stay-at-home mum.

Part of the problem, in my opinion, is the pressure that society places on parents these days. In a shift from our parents era, life is now played out in public on social media platforms. There has never been so much pressure to keep up with the Joneses, with their picture perfect family photos on Instagram, making it all look so easy (guilty as charged).

Another factor is the battle for equality. Women have come so far in fighting for their place on the workforce, that we feel like we need to keep up. Any slip of the facade makes us feel weak, and any semblance of family responsibilities affecting our jobs makes us feel vulnerable.

But it really shouldn’t be this way.

Aren’t we all in it together – mums and dads, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends?

It’s time to bring back the village. It’s time to ask for help, and to help out others. If you see a mum at the park trying to wrangle a toddler off the jungle gym while balancing a baby on her hip, give her a hand. If you have friends who are new parents, offer to watch their child while they go for a meal, a walk or even a much needed nap. Watch out for that mum in your life with too much on her plate – take her kids out for an afternoon and give her a break. If you’re lucky enough to have people in your life like this, reciprocate. None of us have this parenting gig down, we are all struggling. Build that village, support each other, and know that everyone is in the same boat.

Find more from Clare on her blog The Tully Tales


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