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It’s more than OK to ask for help. Here’s how to—and why you should—lean on your village of support.
They say it takes a village to raise a child—and guess what? It’s true. When it comes to parenting, new moms don’t hear often enough that it’s perfectly OK to ask for help. Between trying to feed, bathe, soothe and bond with your new baby, it’s important to remember that you’re only one person. The idea of leaning on your village—the folks who surround your family like friends, relatives and neighbors—for support in providing all the love and care your baby needs is a concept that all moms shouldn’t be afraid to practice.
Here’s why your village is such an important resource for your family (and your sanity!) and a few ideas on how you can widen your support network.
Benefits of Utilizing Your Village
It’s easy to see why so many moms feel pressure to take on all the “mommying” tasks themselves, but we’re here to reassure you that you don’t have to be Superwoman. Giving birth and being a parent is powerful, amazing and stressful, and you don’t have to do it all alone. To put the crucial benefits of leaning on people in your village into perspective, think of it this way: When you’re on an airplane, flight attendants tell parents to put the oxygen mask on themselves first—that’s because you can’t care for your little one if you’re totally out of breath. The village is your oxygen mask, ensuring you always have the back-up and helping hands you need so baby has what they need.
How to Build Your Village
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges moms face when needing support is allowing themselves to show vulnerability in asking for help. No one wants to feel like they are failing or showing weakness, but that’s not the case at all! It takes a lot of strength and courage to reach out to the people in your life for a helping hand—whether it’s for babysitting, getting some “me time,” or seeking advice from a fellow parent. There’s no shame in using all your available resources to care for your newborn, so don’t let mom guilt hold you back.
Plus, with a new baby around, people will be eager to offer a hand where they can. The challenge for you is to accept the offer and let go of the knee-jerk reaction to say, “I’m good, thanks though!” Get in the habit of saying “yes.” Can I bring you dinner? Yes. Can I watch your toddler for the afternoon? Yes. Can I pick you up a coffee? Heck. Yes.
“Building a village means nurturing relationships so that you have people to turn to for support,” says Florence Ann Romano, a childcare expert and former nanny known as the Windy City Nanny. “As you develop your village, you will have moments where you want or need support from an understanding adult. Practice vulnerability and ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness, and your child will only be surrounded by more love because of it.”
Building your village can include leaning on your friends and family, getting to know other local parents who live near you and taking part in group activities where you’ll meet other moms. In general, it’s about not being afraid to put yourself out there. Chatting up parents at the park, swimming lessons or breastfeeding class can open up so many helpful doors, and you may meet a new mom friend who could use your help, too.
Your village members can also consist of outside resources who specialize in baby care, like a night nurse, postpartum doula, babysitter or nanny. Even if you’re a stay-at-home mom or you work from home, an in-house babysitter or nanny can help make all the difference when it comes to helping with a newborn baby.
Night nurses are a bit more on the expensive side and can cost as much as $200 a night. However, they’re not needed forever and can help guide moms through those early stressful nights, while giving you time to rest, too.
Doulas are an incredible resource during pregnancy, birth and postpartum, helping with everything from emotional and physical health, to feedings, bonding and more. They’re different from a nanny because they are really there to “mother the mother” and provide essential support, knowledge and guidance, according to the American Pregnancy Association. A typical range for a postpartum doula is between $15–50 an hour, depending on her qualifications, experience and other factors—making them an affordable option for a variety of families.
Babysitters are there to step in and assist with childcare in a number of forms, even if it’s for an hour or two a day. They can work full-time, part-time or pitch in on an as-needed basis—whatever works for you and your family. Care.com’s suggested pay rates for babysitters calculator is a super-handy tool that will help you determine a fair price based on factors like location, experience, number of children and hours per week. Rates typically fall under $20 per hour but will vary.
Nannies work by acting as an extension of the parent, covering a number of childcare needs. They may be taking baby to a doctor’s appointment, preparing meals, facilitating bath time or many other crucial tasks. According to Romano, those same factors should also come into play when determining a nanny’s pay. The cost will increase or decrease depending on you and your baby’s needs, so she recommends coming to an agreement on price before committing to a nanny.
Daycare is a great option for parents looking for help Monday through Friday with a fairly set schedule for drop-off and pick-up times. With multiple caregivers on hand, there will most likely always be someone there so worrying about coverage isn’t an issue when you need to get on with your day-to-day activities. The benefit is most of the lead caregivers have a background in child development and early education. With most Daycare options, children are separated by age group, so you can ensure your little one is getting the care and attention they deserve along with their peers. According to Care.com, the average family will spend about $211 a week on daycare.
No matter what you choose, don’t be afraid to start building your village now. You deserve the help, and your network will be happy to provide it!