This is a guest post by one of my lovely mums, Lillian.
Something that has struck me time and time again is just how exhausted I feel on a Sunday evening after spending the whole weekend with my little girl. Surely, I cannot be the only one who is completely run down by parenting, and after some research I’m understanding why this is the way it is.
In a time not so long ago, there was no such thing as the nuclear family. None. It is only within the last few hundred years (a couple of generations really) that our homes become a place for immediate family only like Mom, Dad, children and a cat or dog. There was a time in western culture that still exists in many other places where the work of taking care of children fell on the entire extended family and they were never far away to call on or step in and help.
The expectation of society nowadays that parents should parent instinctually and off their own backs is absurd in many cultures. The burden of holding, rubbing backs, socializing, and playing with babies and children is not one to be held by one or even two parents It is a job for four or more people. No wonder I am so tired. Mothers now shoulder more parenting responsibilities than ever before, and without the help of trusted family and friends for advice, guidance and time off it feels like a losing battle.
The loss of extended family in the home could come from many things, a want for more privacy, a desire for independence or establishing yourself as a family unit. Whichever horse you put your money on for the cause of this new isolated family, the result is the same. That is the reshaping of parenting, and the loss of the villages of support for new and older parents that is still so desperately needed. Children have evolved to have more than one or two consistent faces around, to teach them how to socialize and consider other people’s needs before their own as part of a larger functioning group.
So, the message feels clear that what I really need is to get back to grass roots and find a support network that works for my tot and for me! Nobody can keep up in this parenting game because it is a team sport, and honestly that makes me feel better about being tired and out of ideas for entertaining and even looking forward to nursery days because this is hard work.
Creating a network of family and friends can be difficult, we are all busy, but in terms of looking after yours and your child’s emotional wellbeing it could provide a little respite or be a total life saver one day. Consider who is around. Is there a family or two on your road that you could put more effort into getting to know and sharing play dates with? Could you orchestrate a Multi Age Play group with your friend’s or family’s children? Little things like this begin to recreate our village and show us and our children that the world has many kind faces that they and we can turn to.