motherhood

In Absence of a Village, Build One

Do you feel like you have a village? People to rely on when you’re in a bind, friends to turn to when you think you can’t handle one. more. nursing session, one more set of misplaced keys, one more disagreement with your spouse, one more toddler tantrum?

I recently received this text from my sister-in-law, who lives two states away:

“I’m going to call and order you guys pizza 😄🍕 for dinner tonight.”

My husband had been in China for almost two weeks, and my sweet sister-in-law figured I could use an easy night with no cooking and no cleanup. (I’d do anything for no cleanup.)

It occurred to me that even though she is 600 miles away, my sister-in-law is part of my village. The distance that separates us doesn’t have to keep us from supporting each other.

But man, this village thing? It’s a tricky concept.

Some of us feel like we don’t have one, like we live too far away from family to lean on them and we’re too busy running our lives to really invest in our friendships.

Others of us feel village-less… that is, until our kid breaks an arm and friends start appearing with balloons and Sharpies.

Others still are trying desperately to build a village but keep running into obstacles.

In this beautiful post, writer and life coach Beth Berry highlights one of the things that makes modern village-building so exasperating:

“We’re forced to create our tribes during seasons of our life when we have the least time and energy to do so.”

Absolutely! The time when you need a village the most also happens to be the time when it’s hardest to build one.

After stewing it over in my mind for the eight years (what?!) that I’ve been a mother, and after discussing it with many of YOU via social media, I’ve pulled together some of the most common barriers and most powerful tips—to help you slowly but surely build a village you can fall back on.

The truth is, the time when you need a village the most happens to be the time when it's hardest to build one. 6 Critical Tips to Help You BUILD Your Village Barriers to Finding Your Village

(Which ones have you experienced?)

1. The age of fellow moms in your life—and the ages of their children 

It can be easier to relate when ages (loosely) line up.

2. The arrangement of work & life

For example, mothers who work outside the home may have a hard time connecting with moms who stay home. There are only so many hours in the day…

3. The courage it requires to reach out to another woman

This is a big barrier for many of us, because no matter how good the woman’s reason for not picking up your offer, it can still feel like rejection. We thought we left that feeling behind with our dating years. 😉

(Need some help getting conversation rolling? Try these 16 conversation-promoting questions to ask your friends.)

4. The feeling that the women around you already have a village in place

This can be exacerbated by social media, where people often appear secure and connected when in reality they may need someone as much as you do.

5. A fragmented village

Maybe you have people who care about you and people you care about, but when those people don’t live in the same place or don’t know each other, you may not feel the security of a supportive network.

6 Tips to Help You Build Your Village

1. First, believe that you don’t have to do motherhood on your own. 

What would it be like knowing your children could play in your neighborhood with other watchful, protective eyes on them? What would it be like to know that encouragement was only a text away or that in your lowest moments you could just show up on a friend’s doorstep, no questions asked?

“When my twins were born, I built my village. My parents, in-laws, sitters I trusted, friends to text when I felt ready to give up… I only wish I had built it with my first baby, instead of believing I was mama bear and had to do it all alone!” Melissa Hunter-Noori

2. Next, get comfortable (ironically) with vulnerability. 

One of the advantages (if you can call it that) of not having a village is that no one has to know that you don’t always have it together—that you are exhausted and lonely and can’t see above your laundry pile.

But with that comes the feeling that you’re parenting in a vacuum. Without girlfriends and family to witness your life (the good and the bad), it almost feels like you aren’t really living it; you’re marking time instead of experiencing it.

“I have learned to drop the façade and lay it all out, and in return they do the same.” Mary Stockton

Vulnerability allows us to take friendships to a much more meaningful level, and in turn we find ourselves feeling happier and more comfortable in our own skin because of the authenticity we’ve developed in the safety of close relationships.

3. Watch for women you can bring in.

“I put myself out there over and over and it seems everyone is happy with the status quo—their current situation, friend-wise.” Chelsie Hatch

A village gets stronger with numbers. If you already have a support network, keep your eyes open for women like Chelsie who might need what you can offer. Be a people connector.

4. Keep working on YOU.

I was so inspired by Tina’s comment on Facebook:

“For those who are yearning for a community connection, keep working on yourselves until the right women are presented to you. Your vibe attracts your tribe.” Tina Jheeta

Your vibe attracts your tribe. I couldn’t agree more.

5. Ask for help, and accept it when it’s offered. 

I would have been fine without the pizza that my sister-in-law ordered for me. We could have eaten cold cereal that night. She knew that. But she also knew that sometimes it’s not really about the action; it’s about knowing that someone is there for you.

Accept that feeling wholeheartedly when it’s offered to you. (Read about a time when I didn’t accept it here: When Perspective Keeps You From Feeling Your Story.)

6. Offer YOUR help. 

I saved the most crucial element for last: Being willing to help others—to be their village—is the biggest key to creating one.

“I am responsible for creating my own village. I realized it was about reaching out to other moms and being of service to them. That is where my village came from.” Amanda Roberts

I’ve noticed that in my own life, the people who help me and the people I help—that’s where it’s at.

I know it’s not nearly as easy as following six simple steps. Not nearly so easy. It takes courage to reach out, to risk rejection, even for something you know has huge power to affect your happiness and the wellbeing of your family. But…

Let’s reach out. Let’s open our eyes to the village we do have. Let’s nurture it. Connect our friends. Help them. Invest in them. Let them invest in us.

I’m sure you saw this coming… 😉 How are you feeling about your modern village?


A note about personality:

It can be hard for introverts—who long for deep connections but struggle with small talk—to reach out to new people. I’m on a quest to bring introverted moms together and to help them understand themselves better—so that they can feel more comfortable, confident, and HAPPY in their roles as friends and moms.

If the introvert struggle is familiar to you, I’d love to have you check out my 8-lesson ecourse, Talked Out, Touched Out: Learn to Thrive as an Introverted Mom! Registration closes this Sunday (September 17th), so join us now!

Tips for Building Your Village

62 Comments

  • Reply
    joanna
    September 26, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    I have family far away and friends far away. I speak to the important ones enough but I definitely feel on my “own” a lot with work, three kids, kids schoolwork etch. I limit our activities because I don’t want to feel overwhelmed. I have three friends that I lean on and I am happy to have a few important people. Less is more for me but a strong connection to community is important.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      September 27, 2016 at 9:22 am

      Hi Joanna! Our situations sound so similar! I have long-distance friends and family that I keep in touch with and some local girlfriends I can rely on, but I do often feel pretty independent (“on my own”) as well. I’m very grateful for what I have and always looking to build it up! Many best wishes as you continue to connect with your people!

    • Reply
      shanti Hodges
      June 28, 2017 at 11:23 am

      Have you ever checked out Hikeitbaby.com? Great place to find community.

  • Reply
    Melissa P.
    September 27, 2016 at 8:07 am

    It’s been years since I’ve had any real friends much less a village. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that those who do have villages are people that tend to be needy. Every single day they need someone to do something for them. Take their kids to school, bring their family dinner, drive them to appointments, clean their house. It’s pretty constant. And the people that make up their village are people that need to “save others”. They are amazing and overly selfless. Maybe even enablers sometimes.

    Now, there is nothing wrong with these types of people. But I’m neither of these types. I never need people to do things for me and while I love helping someone out when needed, I’m not an enabler. I have no wish to run someone’s life for them. I’ve even been told that my independence makes me intimidating. I’d just love to meet other women like me who don’t “need” others in a dependent way but just want others for friendship, to spend time with, make crafts,play card games, etc. but it seems we are few.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      September 27, 2016 at 9:22 am

      What a unique and interesting perspective, Melissa. Best wishes as you continue looking for your tribe; I think they’re out there!

      • Reply
        Liz C
        October 2, 2016 at 5:13 am

        Melissa P.
        I feel the same way you feel. I am a single mom of 2yr old and it’s overwhelming at times but I’m afraid to ask for help because I feel they will abuse our friendship and be the needy one. So I struggle and keep going. I have some what of a village tribe. They help me with clothes, toys and prayers for my daughter but I would never ask them to babysit. I don’t want to be the needy one either.

      • Reply
        Danna
        June 22, 2017 at 8:25 am

        I”m so there with you! I had my kids when I was 38 and 40. 10 years later, I’m nearly 50, I’ve been married for 22 years, my kids are almost 9 & 11 and we homeschool. I had a great career that I chose to give up when I had kids. I’m super independent, pretty capable and although I’m not shy in the least, I’m an introvert. I find that either I’m a magnet for crazy hot mess moms or there are a ton of them out there. The moms of my kids peers and friends tend to be AT LEAST 10 years younger than me if not 20 years younger than me. I find that the “tribe” is very needy, has issues with boundaries and honestly just isn’t worth the trouble most of the time.

        • Reply
          Kay
          June 22, 2017 at 7:57 pm

          I’m an older mom with young kids, and we homeschool. I also left a career and am somewhat introverted. Just curious what else we might have in common, should you care to correspond further. 🌻

        • Reply
          Anne
          June 26, 2017 at 1:45 am

          I could have written that 🙂

    • Reply
      maria
      September 27, 2016 at 11:30 am

      Sorry you’ve had to see these things! Sounds like more of a toxic village of people! But Yes I hear you and can relate to your independent style ! My thoughts are a village would be like any healthy relationship of give and take. But yes also a place where there is support, openness, and some fun!

    • Reply
      Cassandra
      October 3, 2016 at 8:27 pm

      Do you happen to live in Oregon? Because you’re my kind of girl!

      • Reply
        Tara
        June 29, 2017 at 9:29 pm

        Cassandra, are you in Portland?!

    • Reply
      Brooke
      October 18, 2016 at 11:44 am

      Melissa, I feel the same way. I have had what I thought were villages, just to realize that I was always there for my friends, but when I needed someone, no one was there. I went into a bubble of sorts for a while and figured the tribe thing just wasn’t for me, but recently I have put myself back out there and have found some friends who understand the give and take without it being mechanical and tit for tat. I believe you can find it too, it is just something that sort of has to find you too. This is coming from someone who has been on the look out for a tribe for ten years. Don’t give up!!

    • Reply
      Mimi
      October 18, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      I feel the same way , since I became a mother. My husband is the only village, tribe, good neighbor, best friend, everything. Eventually his job complicates it even more because he works far from home everyday, years of not being home every night ( trucking). Rarely, I have seek for help and helped back but just like that, very mutual.
      When I hear other moms complain, and their close family and friends are just around the corner, husband is home every night by 5-6 pm, I do not not what to think or to say to them.
      I just say to myself, you are doing an tremendous job of raising your kids and supporting your family indipendently! God thank you for being with me every moment!

    • Reply
      Jennifer
      October 31, 2016 at 10:21 am

      I have just been reading through some of the difficulties you ladies have voiced about building a village. So, decided I might share some of what I have learned during my time on earth. First, you don’t have to “”create” a new village. there are many out there so start shopping. They are found dead in church groups, quilting guilds, fitness clubs, or scrap booking clubs. Juse think of something that interests you and give it a try. You can Google groups in your area. Even though it may not be a perfect fit, your may find one or two kindred souls.

    • Reply
      d
      January 7, 2017 at 8:25 am

      Glad to read this response after that article. Everyone is different in their aspects of wanting or ” needing” a village My husband and I raised my 3 kids on our own , with little help. in addition we don’t have normal healthy children…. they all share a chronic rare disease. So I read this article thinking there was something wrong with me and made me feel bad for not having help or ” a village”.

      • Reply
        Erica Layne
        January 7, 2017 at 9:43 am

        There’s nothing wrong with being YOU! If you’re satisfied with the life you’ve built and the network you have, then for sure stick with it! Best wishes, D!

  • Reply
    Christy
    September 27, 2016 at 9:52 am

    I’m so blessed to have found my own “tribe” with my girlfriends from college. However, now that many of us have young children, the distance that we easily used to close with road trips on the weekends feels harder to close. We do make an effort to get together with our families when feasible, and we also have traditions (i.e., Christmas party, summer cottage getaway) that make it easier to stay connected. But seeing these ladies live from 2 to 16 hours away, it’s harder to call on them in times of immediate need. I’m lucky that I do always have an ear to listen though through Facebook messenger or even Facetime when times get rough.

    Who is my local village? I can call on my parents, in-laws, and daycare provider during certain times of need, but it’s harder to be able to pinpoint local friends that might help me. I’ve got many “friends” who are willing to go out for lunch during the workday, but these are not friends I’d feel comfortable calling on to watch my kids in a moment of need. We are fortunate to live in a neighborhood where the children do play together in a pack, so now that my children (ages 4 and 2 years-old) are starting to get old enough to partake in the neighborhood playtime, I’ve realized I also need to branch out and get to know the moms in my neighborhood. There is a lot of risk and vulnerability in doing that though. In some ways, I’d rather just wrap my kids up in a little bubble and have them play in our backyard by themselves. I know that’s not best for them — or me — but putting myself out there and risking having others judge me or my family is tough.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      September 27, 2016 at 3:56 pm

      Oooh, yes! Opening ourselves and our families up to possible judgment from others? Let’s add that to the list of barriers! That one is real. Loved hearing about your experience, Christy! Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!

  • Reply
    Linda Sand
    September 27, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    As my husband and I prepare to move into a retirement community we found ourselves needing to address this issue in a new way. We will be setting up financial and health powers of attorney naming his sister and her husband. They are people we trust to make sensible decisions on our behalf if we can no longer make our own. Our daughter is also trusted but she lives a long way from here so cannot respond as quickly. Even at our age, it takes a village.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      September 27, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      Great point, Linda! It never really goes away, does it? I hope your transition goes smoothly! <3

  • Reply
    Itzy
    September 27, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    I’ve lived in this house for almost 5 yrs.
    Been a mom for 6.
    It really took a while for me to finally feel like I have a village. I have one good neighbor. One ok neighbor. One awesome friend who’s 5 mins away. And a mother in law that is priceless. You really need a handful to rotate and not burn anyone out including yourself, I feel. I don’t constantly need help, but man does it burn when having my sister at arms reach constantly shut me down when I reach out for help! For a long time I had certain expectations for family and was consistently disappointed. I’ve learned to let that go and build a village beyond family and it’s what’s given me the most success and joy. I needed to find people that reciprocated, because I was always the one giving but not receiving. It’s been a LOT of trial and error. But much needed and worth it. Although I really think it has something to do with timing, I have a school age kid now and one in TK and just seeing the light at the end of the tunnel that they won’t always be toddlers really lightens your perspective, don’t we agree? It’s those infant-toddler phases that make you or break you, probably both! They break us and make us 🙂

  • Reply
    Andy Mc
    September 28, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Here’s another tip…

    Men can be in a village, too. As a stay-at-home dad, my village is small, in part because so many women exclude me by default. We have the same issues and concerns as mothers, could use some help, and can offer some help.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      September 28, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      Well said, Andy! I know a couple dads in my neighborhood who stay home (whether full or part time), and we help each other as well. Even if it’s just as simple as watching the kids play at the community playground while the other parent runs to put dinner in the oven. 🙂 🙂

      All parents have got to look out for each other!

  • Reply
    Alice Duff
    September 28, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    This post is amazing! It goes to the heart of my business Born by One. (It’s launching in middle October) I love how this post is so real and goes to the heart of a struggle many new parents face.

  • Reply
    Lorie S
    September 28, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Really like this post and think you hit it nail on! Those obstacles are so real! I know one of the things that held me back in the beginning is that I felt like I had such amazing friendships and tribes in family and college besties that when I moved away and now had my own little family, I felt it was impossible to ever bond with people in the same way and how could I ever make as good of friends as the ones I had made in the past. And then I felt stressed that if I tried, I wouldn’t have the time to be a “good” friend. I think it was when I realized we are all stressed for time and, in a way, to keep expectations low, that I had the courage to try and start building one. Is that bad? Starting friendships with low expectations? :S

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      September 29, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Hahahaha, Lorie, this is why I love you. You’re so funny and honest. And I totally GET THIS! When you’ve had really great friendships (especially during those amazing, formative college years!), trying to build friendships that live up to them is daunting. Depressing, even! So yes, in this case, I think low(er) expectations are perfectly appropriate. 🙂 🙂

  • Reply
    Susanne de Munck Mortier
    October 1, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    Dear Erica

    Love your post about building your own village!
    Please look at our website http://www.hsp-foundation.org for our project in Italy; an HspVillage.

    Love, Susanne de Munck Mortier

  • Reply
    Janet O'Grady
    October 2, 2016 at 2:58 am

    We moved from a large city to a small town, where we had no connections whatsoever. I had a 2year old at the time & we moved into a cottage just outside the town. I knew I had two options; 1- hide behind my front door , just me & my little family or 2- get out there, do a bit of research and find my tribe. I chose door no 2! I went to a mother & toddler playgroup , it was hard going at the start to sit with strangers and make an effort. But here we are 9 years later, this small town feels like home, the tribe I made way back then are still going strong.
    But here’s the thing – it doesn’t stop with finding a tribe, you have to maintain your tribe too. Someone has to be the organiser/ go to person (you know, the one who has everyone’s phone number/ remembers birthdays etc) , so I became the unofficial glue that holds us all together. I have developed a few different tribes (to acommodate my different interests). As a stay at home mom, my tribes have kept me sane, we have shared plenty of laughs through the good times & cried buckets of tears through the sad/tough times. I love them just as they are and I count myself truly blessed to have them in my life. So, don’t hesitate, get out there and find your tribe, be the friend you want to have, show kindness & you can’t go wrong xx

  • Reply
    Liz C
    October 2, 2016 at 5:22 am

    Janet O’Grady
    Well said

  • Reply
    Anna France-Williams
    October 3, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    This is great! Thanks for writing it. My husband and I have built a village for each of our children by inviting our friends to form part of what we call a ‘Life Village’. Each friend contributes a skill or interest to our child’s village like reading to them, teaching them to sew, listening to them or educating them about their ethnic heritage etc. It works so well not only for our kids but also as it supports us as parents. Check out TheLifeVillage.com where I talk about how necessary the village is for parents.

  • Reply
    Elise
    February 17, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Love your article! The editor in me did notice that you confused the words exasperate and exacerbate. In case you wanted to know :). And you can delete my comment if you want.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      February 17, 2017 at 6:03 pm

      Haha, sweet of you to say that part about deleting it. 🙂 🙂 I’m surprised no one mentioned it up until this point! Thanks so much, Elise!

  • Reply
    Brittany
    February 28, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Hi! Thank you SO much for writing this! I really needed to see this. I feel like I had a very strong village when I lived in another state. My family was far away, but I had a strong base of friends and those friends had become like family. We moved a couple of years ago to be close to my parents (and help with my ailing father) and brother and I have been struggling ever since. While my family is here, I have not made friendships nor have I found a job that I enjoy here. I thought that by now I would have that good feeling of having a tribe. I also feel guilty for feeling this way because my parents are right here. I missed them greatly when we lived far away from them and now that we are right here, I fee l like I shouldn’t feel so alone and lost. Thank you again for posting this. It is helpful to see that I am not really alone in feeling alone 🙂

    • Reply
      Kimberly
      June 20, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      This is me ! I keep hoping and praying for it to click . I’ve been here 3 years and only a handful of people I’ve met that wanted a friendship. I’ve been doing lots of self reflecting and I’ve gotta say it’s worse than dating IMHO . I’m part of a MOPS group etc . It’s just so hard . I miss having a tribe 🙁

      • Reply
        Erica Layne
        June 21, 2017 at 1:48 pm

        Sending many good vibes your way, Kimberly! It sounds like you’re doing your part; it’s going to click. <3

  • Reply
    Rosy
    April 18, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Gosh, I struggle with this. I had a village, an amazing village, but moved away from them. They are still part of my tribe when I need an ear or a girls weekend away, (they’re a 16 hour drive away) but in the 3 years since I moved, I haven’t found a new tribe. We moved somewhere where everyone is very friendly, but no one seems to need new friends. I’ve made one or two real friends that I can trust, but I’ve given up on finding a solid group to lean on. I just can’t keep doing the inviting and never getting responses or reciprocations.

  • Reply
    Nathugs
    June 21, 2017 at 6:04 am

    What a great post. Thank you. I would add don’t limit your village to people your same age/circumstances. I’m a grandma but not all my grandkids live close by. I love it when younger neighbors ask me to help with their kids. I in turn can ask them for help when needed.
    Giving service and receiving service is a blessing for everyone involved

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      June 21, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      I agree completely! There’s so much beauty in an inter-generational village!

  • Reply
    Grace
    June 25, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    I teach in the same community where I live. I feel a little more pressure to perform and not be “vulnerable”. My dad and my husband’s dad still work. When I have been vulnerable with my MIL, expressing how exhausted I am, she looked at me dumbfounded and replied, “Wow, I never felt that way. I loved every moment of motherhood”. Insert deflation sound here. It’s so hard to not have a break, to constantly be “on” and to not even have the grandparents offer. My kids are good kids, but it takes so much work.

  • Reply
    Ellen
    June 25, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Thank you-so important to be thinking of actions we can take to reduce isolation.
    Despite the urge to “go it alone” my children always benefit when we reach out.
    I do want to comment that you seem to write from a heteronormative lens, and I urge to think about considering gender neutral language- there are males needing connections as well-And worthy of being on tribes, as well as gender non binary parents. Just another thought on this parenting journey.

  • Reply
    Jodie
    June 26, 2017 at 6:06 am

    I’m an expat living an ocean and a continent away from the village that I grew up in. I’ve built a village twice now. I’m trying to repair my local village at the moment in the wake of a third pregnancy and rely heavily on my fragmented and international village for emotional support.
    I’ve found the barrier 4 to be especially difficult to handle. A member of my village moved – not very far, maybe 10 minutes away by car rather than 10 hours away – and although she still is part of my village, my offers for reciprocity are no longer accepted. And although my in-laws have been a minor part of my village, they have recently more or less decided to move out. When trying to build a village when all of the mothers around me built and kept them 5-10 years ago, it is very frustrating to put yourself out there. In some cases even if you find where to put yourself out there you are rejected anyway because why should another mom help you with your village when she can barely maintain her own…

  • Reply
    Gemma
    June 26, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    I have had the best village experience this week after working hard to create one for the last year and half. A long story short, our daughter didn’t get into our local catholic primary school which is very small and has lots of family in the area trying to get into. Once my village found out they rallied and by lunch the next day we were in. Everyone made calls and spoke on our behalf why we should be there. I am so overwhelmed by the love and support we were given and am so excited for my daughter that we are truly welcome in our new neighbourhood. I love my village!

  • Reply
    Farmor Dorte
    June 29, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Some thirty years ago I found myself in a new city with a 6 month old. (In Canada).
    A neighbour, new friend and new mom, asked me to tag along to a post-natal group at our local health clinic. ( Me with my big sitting baby among all these new borns). After attending several of these get togethers, it came to the last meeting. Being new to the city and having all our family in Europe, I decided to put myself out there and asked the group if anyone would be interested in setting up a babysitting co-op/ support network. Several of the new moms came forward and to be honest we mostly socialized, talked about the joys and headaches of parenthood, play dates with kids and without, but we were there to babysit for each other too. Four of us are still friends to this day.
    This was all before we all started living our lives through cellphones and IPads.

    • Reply
      Farmor Dorte
      June 29, 2017 at 8:10 am

      Edit: Supposed to be heartaches not headaches (although there were some of those, too.)

  • Reply
    Julie
    July 11, 2017 at 3:23 am

    Thanks Erica, this is so true! Unfortunately I didn’t recognize the support I needed until recently, and so struggled through the baby, toddler and child years pretty much on my own. (My husband travels a lot for his work, I live halfway around the world from my family, and it seemed like just too much hard work to keep up meaningful friendships.) Then about two years ago, when my daughters were pre-teens, through a conversation with a friend who has become like a sister to me, I realized that I need people to take the role of family in my life – I need that village! I found that being real and being intentional, and offering my help to others brought me into contact with the people I needed, and has helped me build significant relationships. It has been a struggle, and there have been many times when I’ve felt like I have been putting in all the effort and getting back nothing in return. But I’ve learned that nothing you do out of love and kindness is ever wasted – you just may not get the result you expect! And I’ve learned to embrace my role as an initiator and enjoy it; then I recognize and appreciate other people’s efforts even more. A tip I would add is to use your interests to make contacts, and see who among them is village-worthy 🙂 I have been able to get to know quite a few people at the gym I go to over the years, now a group of us go out for dinner once a month. They are mostly ladies who are older than me and I learn a lot from them! They have gotten to know my kids and offer to help with them when I need it. I have also recently joined a running training group and am meeting some interesting people. Time will tell if they will become part of my tribe (or me of theirs!) but getting to know them is the first step. Lastly, you speak about connecting with other women and I think that’s who we, as women, tend to concentrate on. But I have appreciated so much also having men as part of my village – the benefit of their different perspective on things and the different kind of support they can offer. Whether it is friends’ husbands who offer to help with stuff when my husband is away, or people who take on the role of granddad or uncle to my kids, or a brother to me; if we limit our tribe by gender, or age, or some other factor, we might just be missing out on an invaluable resource.

  • Reply
    Meg
    July 12, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    This year my husband and I moved 1500 miles away from our village to follow job opportunities for him and lower cost of living for us. We were at a place where something had to give, we felt God blessing our decision to move. I don’t regret it. I believe we did the right thing. But it’s been hard and lonely. My husband finally started a new job in June and we moved from one pay off our new state near my brother’s family, to another where we’re all on our own. We’ve started attending a new church. And this week, when I really needed it, one of the ladies in our new Sunday school class reached out to me and took me out to lunch. I think we’re in a good place to start building a new village. But I know it’s going to take time and effort. I wish I could happen more quickly. But I don’t rush into friendships anymore. I’ve been burned too many times.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      July 18, 2017 at 9:55 am

      Many best wishes on your newest adventure, Meg!

  • Reply
    Marie Richards-Cochrane
    July 13, 2017 at 7:13 am

    This is a great article. I would just like to add that our village changes over time. We may have a village when we are young mums, then when or if we are working or studying. Then with school aged children and again when the children have all flown. Now that I am retired I have joined another village and so it goes on. I am a grandmother of 16, age range 2 to 24. Thirty five years ago I moved from a small community where my village was made up of family and school friends where most of us had 4-5 children to a rural city. Initially I found it very lonely till a lady who made a school uniform for my youngest invited me to a morning tea group of mothers with children at home and at school. We met every fortnight taking it in turn at each other’s homes. This group of wonderful women became my village. We continued to meet and support one another socially and emotionally through good times and bad until we all eventually returned to work or study. We didn’t babysit for one another but would assist with names of babysitters who we knew were trustworthy and reliable. I would encourage all to endeavour to become part of a village at all ages.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      July 18, 2017 at 9:55 am

      Well said, Marie! I agree wholeheartedly. My village has changed over the years as well. And what I love about it is that even if I don’t live near those friends anymore, or if we’ve moved on to different stages, I still think of them with the most fondness and can even call on them in different ways from time to time. Thanks for adding that to the conversation!

  • Reply
    Jen
    July 14, 2017 at 10:33 am

    I’m so disappointed that the main premise and focus of this article is on having kids and being a mom, I don’t have kids; I still need support and friendship. There are lots of us out there that get tired of feeling marginalized because we don’t have/can’t have children. Mothers: reach out to non-mothers! We feel especially left out!

    • Reply
      Samantha
      July 15, 2017 at 6:28 am

      Jen – I hear you! I was reading this and saying “even non-Moms” need a village! As women, as “insert other descriptive terms here”- we need villages.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      July 18, 2017 at 9:53 am

      I agree completely, Jen! We all need to reach out to each other, no matter our marital / parental / life situation! I write in particular to mothers because I write from my own experience and the majority of my readers are in a similar stage of life. But we all need a village—a support network—and I hope many of these tips apply all the same. All the best!

  • Reply
    Lynn
    July 14, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    I clicked here via a link shared by a friend…I wish I saw this six years ago as a new mom in a new country! It wasn’t until an emergency while my husband was away that I started building my village a year ago. Unfortunately the community we’re in means that village is always morphing as people move on, but these are excellent tips and I will keep them in mind!

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      July 18, 2017 at 9:51 am

      I’m late getting back to you, but thanks so much for sharing a bit of your journey here, Lynn! Good luck as you continue building your (fluid) village!

  • Reply
    Kath Fairweather
    July 19, 2017 at 6:07 am

    Lots of great advice. We moved to our “village” in the city 13 years ago and had 3 kids – we wanted a community…we connected by dining/shopping regularly at local spots and getting to know the small business owners (they are people too…with families and lives), volunteering for school or community events, using local businesses/trades. And by getting to know your neighbours. The 73 year old lady next door is a blessing, a baby sitter/friend, substitute grandma at times….we look out for each other. You do have to be brave but it’s worth it. It can be as simple as taking your neighbour an extra slice of cake or offering them some herbs from your garden. Random acts of kindness.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      July 19, 2017 at 5:04 pm

      Well said, Kath! I love that you added local small business owners to this discussion. What a great way to feel connected with the lifeblood of your community.

  • Reply
    Gretchen
    August 10, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    I’m late to this party, but yes yes to this idea!! I’m in Elmhurst IL if anyone is looking for a village here! Alternatively, I can point you to some good people in Atlanta, Michigan, or D.C. If that helps anyone.

  • Reply
    Rachinee
    August 18, 2017 at 6:39 am

    I have 5 kids so my ‘village’ ALWAYS changes! We don’t have much family nearby… in fact my mom and siblings all live in different coutries… even continents!! We were so connected to MOPS when my kids were preschoolers but then our village became other couples with kids around the same ages! With moves and growth and even tragic deaths within that village, our hearts remain close but we all are geographially separated now. I have a ‘tribe of girlfriends’ but that changes whenever our respective circumstances changes too! Sometimes its a core group of 8 ladies, sometimes its just me and one other for a movie night! I am definitely one to take the initiative to ‘build a village’ whenever needed, no matter the size, even knowing it may only be for a short SEASON!

  • Reply
    Rebekka Paul
    August 23, 2017 at 8:56 am

    I love the fact that you stress the importance of having a village and also that our vibe attracts our tribe. Without being aware of it we attract the people that often understand us best and will be there for us when we need it most. My daughter just got diagnosed with Autism and it’s the people that I least expected to be supportive that were. I find myself being able to pour into others very well when they need but am very hesitant to ask for help when I am running on empty, I feel like I might be burdening them. So that’s where I have to learn to accept help as well.

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      August 23, 2017 at 3:46 pm

      Beautiful, Rebekka! It’s a humbling journey, isn’t it. Best wishes to you and your daughter!

  • Reply
    Sandra
    September 13, 2017 at 11:48 am

    I’ve got very young kids and I am trying to build my little tribe, but my issue is that I am that mom whom others view as the “independent type who has it all together”. I know that I look that way, I’ve been told that. This is partly because I’m a hard-working type A personality (with an ex-professional career), and partly because I’m an introvert who has a hard time sharing my difficulties. I know many women probably feel that I am hard-to-approach, but truly I long for connections and meaningful friendships. On the other hand, I don’t want to always be the organizer-in-chief of everything and take care of every other mom’s needs just because I look strong. I sometimes feel that the “hot mess types” have a lot easier time finding a tribe…

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