Find Your Village
The Importance of Social Connection in Motherhood
Written by Shannon Wilson, LMHC, PMH-C
As mothers, it is all too easy to fall into a pattern of spending most of our time taking care of our families and neglecting our own needs – especially needs like support and social connection that tend to be low on the priority list.
Culturally, we have moved very far away from the “it takes a village” mentality of yesteryear and we are more independent (read: isolated) than ever before. It takes time and energy to seek out, nurture, and maintain friendships. These happen to be the two biggest things moms don’t have – time and energy!
What you may not realize is how important social connection and support are to your emotional well-being. In fact, it’s crucial, and not having support and connection is a risk factor for depression.
For some of you, building community may be a matter of getting back and nurturing some “old” relationships. Social media and cell phones can be a great way to connect, but it can also leave us feeling even MORE isolated. Don’t just text or private message – reach out and schedule an actual TELEPHONE CALL. Yes, people still do that!!
For others, establishing new relationships will be necessary – and this can often feel like dating! One of the questions I’m often asked is, “how do I even meet people now that I’m older?” Here are a few tips!
- Let go of the guilt. It is incredibly important for you to allow yourself this time. You will probably feel guilty because you’re a mom, but that’s okay – feeling guilty doesn’t mean you ARE guilty so do it anyway!
- Attend local events with or without your child. What are your interests? Book club? Yoga? Photography? Cake decorating? Find an event or a class that is catered to your interests. The bonus here is that people attending are also interested in that thing and it’s a natural place to begin a conversation!
- Find a group. There are many local groups specifically for mothers in our community (think MOPS or MOMS Club), church based groups, etc.
- Start chatting people up when you’re waiting in the school for pick-up, or on a field trip volunteering with other parents. Opportunities are everywhere if you’re open to them, and you never know what kind of connection you’ll make, and I often find that other people need these types of interactions as much as I do!
- If you meet someone that you happen to find interesting or would like to learn more about, get their contact information or ask them if they’d like to meet for coffee, happy hour, or a play date. What’s the worst thing that can happen? They can say no because it’s not a mutual connection and you move on with your life.
As you are either nurturing old relationships or establishing new ones (or both!), remember to be real and authentic. Be willing to take a chance and share some real things about yourself. You don’t have to be airing all of the dirty laundry, but sharing real struggles and triumphs helps us connect and relate to one another and will bring you some good warm fuzzies!
What is one thing you might try this week??
Here are some local resources to check into!
Cedar Rapids Birthfit
*This is a great place to work on moving your body in a good way while connecting with other mothers.
Cedar Rapids Moms Blog *Blog, facebook groups and a number of opportunities to get out into the community and meet other moms.
*Blog, podcast and local events to connect mamas and celebrate the mama life.
Kirkwood Community College
*Check out the Life & Leisure section!
Mom’s Clubs of Cedar Rapids and Marion
*Offers prenatal and postpartum yoga and support.