Surviving Without a Village

Moving to a new location has never been easier. You or your spouse takes a new job across the country, and you soon find yourself without any help on the home front. Raising children takes a village, and when you move away from your support system you have to make a few changes to survive.

My parents moved six hours away when my oldest child was two months old. They were never the babysitting type of grandparents, but it would have been nice to have them closer. My husband's family lives about 15 hours away. As a result, my husband and I have had to form our own village. We need the support, and we are willing to offer the same support to our network of friends. So how do you survive without a village? You make one. Here are a few things we implemented after our village moved away.

We quickly realized that we needed a network of friends. We didn't have friends that we could rely on to watch our children or socialize with regularly. It takes time to form lasting and trusting friendships. If you want friends then you must be friendly. Offer to watch your friends' children one afternoon, go on a double date, and listen to what your friends have to say. No one wants to help someone that never reciprocates. Having a network of friends is the best way to build a new village. Treasure your friendships, and you will never be without a village.

Get Out
Scheduling a regular date night with your spouse, is priority. Your marriage will be strained if you two are the only ones in your village. Taking regular date nights without the kids is important to maintaining your love for one another. If you can't find a babysitter, then have a date night at home.

You will also need to pencil in some girl time for yourself, and some guy time for your man. We need to get away and discuss grown up stuff with our friends. Play dates are great, but you need time to talk without little ones yelling right next to you.

Mother's Day Out/Preschool
If you have a wonderful preschool or mother's day out program near you, then take advantage of the opportunity. This will give you time to go grocery shopping, run errands, or have some down time. When grandma and grandpa aren't around to watch the kiddos, then you may need to spend the money on a quality childcare facility.

You Make the Rules
As the manager of the home, you make the rules. Sometimes as parents we forget that we have the power to make and enforce the rules. You don't have to go about your day like a worker on an assembly line that has no say in what goes on within the company. Set a schedule for your children and yourself to follow. You know your house best, and you can make the rules. If you decide that every Monday is laundry day and every Friday is ice cream day, then fabulous work. Bedtime should be at the same time every night. Your children need to know the rules and what is expected. When you decide what the rules should be, your house can start to run smoother. A well oiled machine causes less stress on the family.

Purging is a wonderful thing. Get rid of things that you don't use and that your children don't use. Hold a garage sale, donate your unwanted items, and throw away broken things. Streamline your grocery shopping, chores, and schedule. When you have less stuff to put away, the more time you will have for what is important.

Limit Commitments 
When you are running low on villagers, limit your commitments to activities outside the home. You are only one person, and there are still only 24 hours in each day. It's so easy to get sucked in to doing everything that all of your friends, neighbors, and community are telling you that you need to do. You have permission to say no! Decide what is important to you and your family. Set a limit for yourself and stick to it.

Join a Group
What are you interested in? Look up your local meet-up groups and sign up to join a play date group, a special interest group, or MOPS. These groups are a great way to meet new people and form lasting friendships. You automatically have something in common with the members of the groups you join.

One of the biggest hurdles is finding a quality and available babysitter. Ask other parents for a referral, check out babysitting websites, and ask your children's workers at church if they know of anyone that is looking to babysit. As a parent, you need to be picky about who watches your children. Don't be afraid to ask for references. Once you find a great babysitter, your life will be changed forever.

Forming a new village takes time, but the work will pay off. Don't be discouraged if you are moving to a new place. Start building your network of friends, and before long you will have a new village.


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