Last week I was spending time in the UK with friends and family. In effect I was solo parenting as my husband was still working back in Switzerland. Except I wasn’t. I spent almost every waking minute in the company of other adults, and often children. There were people to play with my daughter while I took a shower, or brush her hair while I got dressed. There were other children to play with so that I could sit and have a chat without interruption.
Living abroad means our holidays are often spent like this, catching up with friends and family. And unlike day to day life it really is like having a village; having people to share cooking and childcare.
As I travelled from one house to another I reflected on how easy it was to parent with other people around. And how happy I felt to be spending concentrated time with my daughter, along with the support of others.
Since my daughter recently started Kindergarten I’ve enjoyed my free time so that I can be completely alone, and blog and write. But during this week with other people I felt a much deeper happiness that seemed to come from being constantly connected to my daughter and with other people. My drive to be ambitious and finish another blog post or the chapter of my next book faded into the background, as play and laughter and togetherness were all that mattered.
The way we live in modern times our sense of tribe may be temporary. We have a lovely girls night out and then return to our nuclear family, or we have holidays with extended family and then go back to parenting alone.
There are lots of childcare options for when we need a break, or time to ourselves and some of those may even be free. But as I heard one mum say, we don’t just need someone to take over the parenting responsibilities for us, we also need people to support us to be the parents.
What this week taught me is that I love being a parent. I want to be with my daughter as much as I can, and often what I’m missing is not extra time for myself but emotional and practical support to make my job easier.
With Hand in Hand Parenting, we can’t cook your dinner and put your kids to bed, but we can offer you emotional support. Listening time can refill your cup when you feel like you need to run away from your family! I can remember in the early stages of parenting where I’d feel like I needed a long break. Then I’d have ten minutes of listening time, and feel completely renewed and ready to enjoy parenting again.
The foundation of Hand in Hand Parenting is listening to each other and building a village that supports parents just as much as children. As more and more parents discover this transformative way of parenting, we can rebuild the sense of having a village around us.
For more information about listening time check out my blog post here, or my book Tears Heal: How to listen to our children. Or join the Hand In Hand Parent support group on facebook to find a listening partner and build your village today!