We moved to the town we live in 10 years ago, and strangely, I still feel relatively new to the area. We knew nobody (other than a few people at our local church) and our sole purpose for moving was so that Jared wouldn’t have a commute. We knew we’d be having (or trying to have) our children close together and we both felt that this would be a practical solution. People have commented that we are very ‘lucky’ to have this set up (and I feel grateful every single day), but it was a very conscious decision to transfer our roots and let them grow somewhere unfamiliar.
Early parenthood is such a unique stage of life. It’s amazing, confusing and can be really intense. Whenever I feel overwhelmed with life, I flirt with the idea of moving closer to my mum or other family members. Wouldn’t it be amazing to live around the corner from one of my brothers or sisters? Yes it would. Wouldn’t I love to live closer to my mum? Absolutely. Wouldn’t it be lovely to live in a nicer town or village? Of course it would, and there is still so much time for that.
Jared’s work is very flexible and no two days are the same. Sometimes he is out all day and all evening, sometimes he starts late and works late, sometimes he starts late and finishes early, sometimes he works, takes the kids somewhere and then goes back out to see a client. Sometimes he works all day, comes home for dinner and bedtime and then goes back into the office. However, more often than not he takes the boys to school, sits with us at dinner time and takes the two eldest to their weekly swimming lesson, which is a set up we dreamed of, but often doubted would come true.
Before children I had a great support ‘village’ – I worked, could visit my family, church friends, school friends and uni friends (and these people are still very much a part of my wider ‘village’), but once I gave birth to Winston I recognised that I would need a local ‘village’ too. My heart sank at the realisation that I would have to go out there and start building a village – for me, my boys and our family. It’s taken a lot of courage, lots of going outside of my comfort zone, lots of scraping around for confidence and simply just being bold.
Thankfully, starting to build a village was made easier by someone reaching out to me. She invited me to groups, to classes and to just hang out when Winston was still a tiny baby. She then introduced me to some of her other friends who were equally inspiring, fun and kind. At times, it was hard to strike the balance between not seeming too eager, but also staying keen, which is all kinds of cringe. Thankfully, I am much more relaxed about meeting new people now. Making new friends is such a curious business, and I can see why it’s often compared to dating!
Ten years on and I have a lovely bunch of local friends who I connect with in completely different ways. We discuss how we juggle everything, chat about careers, moan about our husbands(!), swap recipes, seek advice, have play dates, help each other with childcare, eat breakfast together, go to the park and generally cheer each other on. I cherish the new connections I have made, and to move away now feels close to impossible.
I think this has been on my mind as I’ve met a few new mums looking to start their ‘village’, but really don’t know where to start. My advice would be that there is a village out there, but you may have to work harder than you expect to find it, or build it. Spend time in places you are likely to meet people, be bold, make the first move and go out of your comfort zone. If you are lucky enough to already have a village – make sure you look out for people to join yours, because I feel completely indebted to the sweet friend who reached out to me. She is a treasure.