Mothers with Young Children Need Help! Let’s Talk about How

For the past couple months, life with my 2 1/2 year old and 1 1/2 year old has seemed….pretty manageable.  It’s to the point, where I’m like….should I have another baby?  Because I should just be jumping back on the crazy train as soon as I’ve caught my breath, right?  I’ve started reading more, writing more, cleaning more, and just lounging more.  And then I got the urge to volunteer my time in some way.  Rather than sitting around, enjoying how easy I have it and thinking about me, me, me; I wanted to figure out a way to help others, with my 2 little ones in tow.  Near and dear to my heart is helping other mothers who are buried deep in the trenches of motherhood.

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Back when we had a 15 month old and a newborn.

I have some friends who have just had or are having their 3rd baby and their oldest is 2 1/2 or younger.  I can only imagine how challenging and tiring that would be. That could’ve been me had God not taken pity on my sanity and given me time to figure out NFP without another surprise during the confusing early months when Silvia was a newborn.  I respect my friends and their sacrifice to faithfully practice or attempt to practice NFP even with children so close together, and I want to help.  I want to be God’s hands, cleaning their houses, making them dinners, and keeping their older kids busy.  I know that God won’t give them more than they can handle and that He will carry them through the difficult times, but maybe God wants to use me to physically carry them through.  In this very manageable season that I’m in, maybe it’s my turn to reach out and help.  Also, I already have my own help.  My two neighbor girls, aged 11 and 7, are answers to my prayers for help that I cried out years ago.

Today, I brought my kids to my friend’s house and the four toddlers played together while she and her husband took their newborn to a doctor appointment and then did a little housecleaning.  I did my best to help clean, too. I could have stayed all day and cleaned (cuz I’m weird and actually enjoy it), but alas, there were 4 toddlers to help take care of.  I’ve made plans with her to make this a weekly event for a while.

I’m still brainstorming ways to help all these moms that need help.  In our modern world of isolation, I want to build communities and networks that have each other’s backs.  We and many of our friends don’t have family in town.  It can be so difficult to get help without paying your left arm for a babysitter.   When a crisis pops up and the babysitter isn’t around, it’s important to have a safety net of people you can turn to.

I’ve thought about something like a co-op daycare, where moms could drop their kids off for a few hours while a couple of other moms babysit together; and then they all switch babysitting duties the next time.  In busy seasons, where moms have newborns, they would be exempt temporarily from babysitting duties, but could still drop their kids off.

My friend thought that moms should just swap babysitting and/or cleaning with another mom.

Also, what we need is more “big” kids to help out like my neighbor girls.  They are at an age where they love little kids and find them so adorable; so they like to play with them.  Leo loves big kids because they run around with him, play hide and seek and push him on the swing.  They don’t take his toys like the other toddlers do.  They are kind of like older siblings and they can be mommy’s helpers at home while she cooks,cleans, works on something or just relaxes.   My little sister babysat (without charging) for a large family for several years.  She started when she was in middle school and continued to babysit throughout high school.  The mom would work from home on her business or do housework while my sister was there.  I see now what a blessing she was for that family.

Do you have any ideas on how to help moms with young children?  Or how to build up communities?  I’d love to hear them.

 

A Hippie I suppose

Well, I’ve recently come to the realization that I’m a hippie.  A modern day hippie.  How did I come to this conclusion?  I was researching communes and the “hippie communes” kept popping up.  And I was like yea, I guess this is kind of a hippie idea.  That and I don’t agree with most conventional “rules” and thoughts in society….but that’s a different story.

 I have really gotten interested in the idea of living in a community, a cooperative, or a commune.  I think it’s brilliant to pool resources and work as a community to take care of each other.  It seems so much more effective and less wasteful than everyone living in their own private home, paying their own bills, making or buying their own food, taking care of themselves and keeping to themselves.  How many people nowadays, especially in suburbia, do not even know their neighbors, and they live only a few feet away from each other?  Several things have led me to this excitement for a community:

1.  I think it’s unnatural to raise kids in our own private houses all day.  Yes, socialization is good.  But I don’t think daycare is THE (only or best) solution.  Preferably, I’d like to see my kids running around with other kids and families while the other women and I are having fellowship by working on a garden or helping each other clean or cook.  (If we all chose to stay home).  If a mother from the commune did need to work (but could still contribute in some other way to the commune), I’d be willing to help watch and take care of her children if some of the other moms could help out, too.  After all, taking care of each other and helping each other out/sharing resources is what a community is about.  As is mentioned here, in the old days women had hired help if they were middle to upper class or had inter-generational living situations if they were poorer.  In either case, they didn’t have to do all the housework and childcare by themselves and I think that was a benefit to their kids as well.  It seems to me that if I were to spend the time I should to keep my house clean (and I don’t even mean sparkling clean) and have healthy home-made meals on the table every night, I wouldn’t be able to give my kids much attention.  And If I were to focus on entertaining them and stimulating them, I would be even more dreadfully behind on home management.  At this point, I choose to do both; so at least a couple days a week we go out and do something fun or meet up with friends for a play date.  And my house is pretty messy and doesn’t get deep-cleaned very often.  

2.  I’m envisioning a commune in which people pool their resources and strengths.  If one family raises chickens, then the whole community gets healthy pastured eggs and chicken meat/stock.  If one family has grass-fed cows, the whole community gets healthy beef, raw milk, and homemade beef broth.  Etc, Etc.  A large community garden could be worked on by many.  Herbs could be grown and used medicinally, cutting back on the need for doctor visits.  Women (or men) could get together and socialize while canning, baking, cooking, cleaning.

I know this is a Utopian ideal, and the reality would be occasional discord, differing opinions, and some members not wanting to work as hard as other members.  However, I think it might be worth a try.  I grew up in a religious community in Baltimore, MD.  It had a lot of families that lived in somewhat close proximity in the city.  Their main point was taking part in the religious activities, and it didn’t have any type of farming connected to it.  My parents loved it because they had an awesome network of friends and support, especially since we had no family in town.  My mom had a lot of friends with kids the same ages so they took turns watching each others’ kids and even cleaning the school we all went to when the school was trying to save on expenses.  I enjoyed growing up in this community for the 8 years that I lived there, but I would want an even tighter community that shares more duties and resources.

What do you think?  Have you ever been in or known anyone in communal living?  I’d love to hear about it.

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