Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, moms had tribes. It didn’t matter if they lived in a village or city, moms, aunties and grandmothers came together to help and share and bond. Not so any more.
There are many battle-fronts in the Mommy Wars. But when it comes to the need for community — and the problems with finding it, you might be surprised to learn that at-home moms and outside-of-the-home working moms are in the exact same boat.
Last year, ABC News did a piece on the social isolation working moms experience in the office. The article quotes Carol Evans, the president of Working Mother Media, as saying that “Working moms have a tendency to put their heads down and do the work. ” They want to get their work done in a timely fashion, she said, because “they want to get home to their kids for dinner.” And that’s great for being efficient. But it often leaves moms out of the social world of the workplace. Not having the time or desire to attend after-work happy hours or other social functions can leave moms feelings lonely, even though they spend most of their waking hours surrounded by other adults.
On the other side of the coin, moms who spend their days at home with their kids can find themselves just as isolated. New moms and moms with more than one little one at home can feel overwhelmed with everything involved in getting out. And once they do, most of their energy might be spent focusing on, and keeping track of their children. “I go to a playgroup”, said one mom, “but we’re all so busy keeping tabs on who’s crawling where or who needs a diaper change that I leave feeling like I hardly got to talk.”
So what’s a mom to do? Sites like Livestrong recognize the issue, but offer little in the way of help. (Take a bath…really? When was the last time a mom with little kids got to take a bath alone? And how does that help with feeling lonely? Ditto for meditation and going for a walk. All great things, but hardly a way to feel less alone! Who are these people?? Clearly NOT moms!)
Instead of turning inward, try finding a tribe outside of work or the playgroup set. Making time to attend events like MomCom (happening twice a year in Austin) or similar events can be a great way to connect with other moms who really get what you’re experiencing. And odds are, are also looking for a tribe of their own. Once you meet other moms, try to create a once a month (or once a week, if you can arrange it) get-together in each other’s homes, a local coffee shop or the gym.
At-home moms can look for groups like Moms Club International that offer Moms Night Out in addition to the typical playgroups. Moms who head out to work can make time to connect with other parents in the workplace at lunchtime or coffee breaks — even a chat once every couple of weeks can start to break down those feelings of being the only one trying to juggle work and family.
And when you are at home with the kids, or at work with your colleagues, try to make time to find inspiration from other moms. Even a 15 minute Google Hangout or 10 minute podcase can sometimes go along way towards reminding you that your tribe is out there somewhere, just waiting to be found.