Moms who have family immediately available as parental support are so lucky.
I was one of those moms. I had always lived close to my parents and my sister.
If I needed anything at all, like someone to take the overnight shift or a gopher to fetch prunes during a BM crisis, help was just a phone call away.
My village would do anything to support me at a moments notice… until my husband’s job moved us away from my beloved village.
Then I was on my own.
It’s funny because you always hear about the “village,” but if you’re fortunate enough to have this village built right into your life, you don’t even think about it. But when you have to build your own village you realize just how precious these supporters are.
As an extreme introvert, I really didn’t know where to start.
But I realized very quickly that it’s difficult to parent young kids without my community. So I needed to find my people.
After about a year, and various social experiments, I did find my people.
And I’m sharing the 5 best places to start when you’re trying to build your parenting village when your family just isn’t an option.
5 Places to Find Your Parenting Village
1. Join Neighborhood Groups
Look online for your neighborhood or community.
You may find Facebook Groups specifically for your block. You can also join apps like NextDoor to connect with neighbors. If you’re still not finding groups, strike up a conversation with your neighbors to ask if there are any community groups.
There may be offline gatherings you can join like a neighborhood association or community watch group.
I love participating in these neighborhood groups because it allows you to step outside your current age bracket or parenting stage. It’s never a bad idea to have a seasoned mom or grandma in your village.
They may be able to offer wise parenting advice because they’ve been through your current stage (perhaps multiple times). You may also find someone younger, like high school or college-aged, who loves to babysit!
It’s also really beneficial to have someone who lives very near, incase you need any urgent help.
2. Find a Mommy & Me Class or Group
Check your local recreation center or call the nearest library. You’ll likely find mommy and me classes that you can sign up for to meet other like-minded moms. I’ve found mommy and me reading groups, fitness groups, mindfulness groups, and playdate (playground) groups. It’s a great idea to befriend moms with kids of similar ages. Your kids can play! And most importantly you can commiserate and support each other through your current parenting stage.
Your local daycare centers might know of mommy and me resources. There are also meetup apps you can download to find local classes.
3. Visit Kid-Friendly Places
As an introvert, it’s super easy for me to just stay at home and have my kids play board games. But one of the very best ways to meet other moms is to get out and visit places kids go to play. Playgrounds, museums, the local pool, and libraries are great places to go. You have to be brave enough to strike up conversations with other moms, but it’s definitely an opportunity to find a mommy BFF.
It’s also a great opportunity for your kids to meet new people and practice their friendship skills.
4. Join Online Parenting Communities
I know from experience one of the best things about having my mother as part of my parenting village is that we can discuss parental strategies without judgement. You might find it difficult to discuss parenting and discipline with your new parenting friends because you don’t know them well.
You may not share the same beliefs and values.
So a great place to find likeminded communities is through online parenting groups. I personally love Positive Parenting Solutions, but there are online groups for any and every parenting style and philosophy. A quick Google search or Facebook search will help you find your people!
5. Volunteer at Your Neighborhood School
If you join a volunteer group at the school closest to your house you are bound to meet engaged parents who live nearby. You’ll probably find you have a lot in common with the other volunteers!
Even if your kids aren’t quiet school-aged yet, you’ll likely meet parents who have younger kids who will eventually go to school with your kids. As a bonus, you’re doing something great for your community by volunteering at the school. Just make a phone call to the school admin. Let them know you live in the community and want to help!
Tips for Making Small Talk with Strangers
Small talk is awkward, especially for introverts.
Striking up initial conversations with strangers is probably the most difficult part of building your parenting village. So here are a few tips to help you get the ball rolling.
- Start with eye contact and a smile.
- Be vulnerable. Maybe even admit you feel awkward and identify as an introvert.
- Avoid controversial topics like politics and religion.
- Practice your introduction (I call it my parenting elevator pitch).
- Keep asking questions! Let them do the talking.
- Offer your phone number, if all goes well (“Hey, I have to run but I’d love to catch up again for a playdate. Here’s my phone number if you’re interested”).
How to Maintain Your Village
Once you’ve developed a few relationships, it’s really important to maintain those friendships.
This is especially difficult for introverts. But it can be done! Here are a few ideas to continue to foster your new relationships and solidify your parenting village
- Plan regular cookouts, wine tastings, book clubs, trivia nights, etc. and invite your parenting village.
- Schedule regular reoccurring playdates (i.e. Every Thursday at 3pm).
- Put a reminder on your phone or calendar to text, email or call to check-in.
- Write down important dates for your new friends (i.e. birthdays, anniversaries) and send texts/cards on those dates.
- Join a class together (fitness, art, scrapbooking etc.).
- When you need help, actually ask them for help (i.e. a 30 min babysitter, a ride to get an oil change, etc.)
- Bake holiday cookies and deliver them to your friends!
- Create a Christmas/Holiday Card list and mail out cards in December.
If you’re still struggling with your village, a parenting coach may be able to help.
You’ll get judgement free advice on both parenting and mom life.