“It takes a village to raise a child” is a saying that I never truly understood until I became a mother, an experience that can be quite traumatic, as everything changes in literal seconds. Having a brand new baby is a surreal, cuddly, and warm experience that compares to nothing else. However, there’s also no shortage of struggling, often left undiscussed, with feelings of doubt, fear of being left behind, body change woes, lack of confidence, and all-around getting used to the new woman you are as a mother.
How to Support Mothers in Your Life
New mothers deserve to be treated tenderly and should be nurtured as much as the newborn baby. Women are seen as powerful warriors who can do all things, but the truth is that women can’t do everything on their own. Women need breaks. We need space, support, and the freedom to ask for help without feeling guilty. And so, as part of the “village”, here are ways you can encourage support mothers.
Spend some time
If you want to support a mother in your life, the simplest way is to spend time with her. Go to her house and really sit inside of her life. Sit and chat as she folds laundry and tends to her home. Dry the dishes after she washes them. Read her baby a bedtime story while she loads the washer and dryer. Be active in her changed lifestyle and embrace who she has become. Show that you accept her as she is and want to be a part of her life. This type of nurturing allows her to better nurture her child.
I have one friend in particular, who will come over and watch a movie with me. She will bring a bottle of wine so we can laugh and talk about life together, as I simultaneously mother my child. She goes on Target runs with me and helps me strap my son into his stroller or car seat. She is fully present in my life, whatever I have going on. When she’s around I feel no pressure to seem like I have it all together. I am okay with being a hot mess in front of her. THIS is the village that mothers need.
Extend thoughtful invitations
Mothers sometimes feel left out of social events when they have children. It’s a hard transition because our kids are almost always with us. Certain events that moms could easily attend before may not be suitable with children. In my own experience, it has been refreshing when people in my life make plans that include my child. There is nothing worse than being somewhere and feeling uncomfortable with your child, like you shouldn’t be there or that the space isn’t appropriate for you to be in. It’s also hurtful when you have to miss out on everything because your social circle never does kid-friendly things. Moms should not have to stress about always finding a babysitter every time they want to socialize.
So, invite mothers to kid-friendly activities during the daytime. I’ve had to find really creative ways to still “turn up” and have fun as a mother. If you are a part of her village, take a mom to brunch where there’s wifi for her child’s iPad and order her a mimosa! Invite them on an intentional picnic so mom can relax while her babies run around the park and get fresh air. Invite the whole gang to museums, dinners, and zoos. Do what you can to make moms feel comfortable and included.
Communicate consistently and positively
Checking in on moms is extremely important. Since people see you less, they naturally reach out less. A simple check-in text goes a long way for moms. Knowing that someone remembers you enough to check on you to make sure you’re okay is all you need sometimes. Everyday, we face new challenges and have to grow at rapid paces in order to keep our children satisfied. Being acknowledged by loved ones and feeling connected to people is essential for mothers.
Positive affirmations can bring tears to a mother’s eyes. Since we are seen as “super women”, we don’t always receive the reassurance and acknowledgement we want and deserve. Simply telling a mother that she’s doing a good job, or that you’re proud of her does so much for her spirit. Whenever you feel like a mother is doing a great job – don’t hesitate to tell her because she needs it.
Give moms a break!
If you have the time, babysit. It’s as simple as that. Moms need breaks from their children. It’s so hard to do regular things with your child in tow. Our kids are there when we eat, sleep, use the bathroom, and everything else. Motherhood can be claustrophobic if you don’t get a little time of separation from your little one, so moms can recharge and come back ready to give it their all. Offer any time you can to support the mothers around you. Help out by entertaining a toddler for an hour while mom showers, enjoys a movie, or goes on a date. Suggest taking the kids to the park, while mom goes to get a pedicure or takes a nap.
Children deserve a happy, rested mother, who has energy to teach them important lessons about life. Children deserve a confident mother who is secure in the many decisions she makes as well as a mother who is loved so she can reflect that love onto her children. All mothers need a support system, so pay attention to what the mothers around you may need and try your hardest to support her. We need all of the love we can get.
Image by @stellablu
This article was originally published in March 2020.