WANTED – ONE VILLAGE. Serious applicants need only apply.

August 12, 2012

Last week I went to the loo.

Nothing ground breaking there, however, last week I got to close the door.
Not only that, but after I was finished, I sat there for a minute or two longer than I needed to. Just sitting. Thinking about nothing. Just picking my cuticles and thinking about making a cup of tea.

Childless people would say ‘er duh, what’s the biggie?’ but anyone with sproglets would look at me with avarice in their eyes. How could I do this, they would ask? Was I not worried my toddler would be smothering my baby with his stuffed Rat, or sticking CDs in the toaster?

Nopes, because I was staying with my family.

Once upon a time, it took a village to raise a child, but now, in this bigger, better, faster age more and more people are doing it all alone.

Neighbours don’t help neighbours, extended families don’t live together or even near each other and often families are simply unable to lend a hand due to their own requirements to be out earning money or playing bowls or whatever grandparents do when they’re not babysitting.

With the world becoming easier to access, and more people traveling and setting up shop around the globe, people are having their families miles away from their support networks. So, just how important is a support network when you have children?

The simple fact of the matter is, when your partner is at work all day every day and you’re stuck in Groundhog Day, it’s nice if there is someone to lend a hand now and then. Even just someone to share a cup of tea with, and chat about what’s going on (or not going on) in your life.

I wonder if post natal depression is on the rise because we do no longer live in this village way?

Mother’s Groups can be a great help (not my bag, but last round the escapees and I got on famously), and I’ve heard many women say they would not have survived without it….but when you have more than one child you can no longer go. Toddlers aren’t welcome, probably for fear of terrifying mums of newborns and creating a whole spate of infanticide.

I recently found myself going under. I was feeling increasingly sad, and very cranky.

Mister H was working on a big project, and was pulling long days. Combine that with his training and I felt like a single mother (hats off to single mums around the world….it is one mother truckin’ tough gig). I didn’t tell anyone I was struggling, because I couldn’t really put my finger on what the problem was.

The day to day business of raising children is not exactly difficult, but the repetition, routine and constant negotiation with a toddler can grind you down, added to the months of disturbed sleep.

I’m lucky that my family live only an hour’s plane ride away, so I jumped that plane and got to where the love is flowing and the whiskeys are poured large.

While hanging at my bro’s house recently, my sister-in-law had the big kids in the bath together while I breastfed and then I started dinner, all nice and relaxed, not feeling like a jumped up juggler in curly jester shoes, keeping a chainsaw, an axe and an egg all in the air. I realised then that perhaps there was something to be said for polygamy.

The husband has his hands full, sure, but the wives have sister wives to help them. Shame I’m such a shit sharer, that’s never going to fly for me.

Apparently, people are twice as likely to say yes to babysitting for an hour than people are to ask. If you need an hour off, and you do the math on that, you’ll realise you’re failing the maths test.

So, why is it so hard to ask for help?

I was discussing it with a girlfriend and I told her I felt like I was failing motherhood if I needed help. Millions of women don’t have help. She suggested that perhaps it was a sign of a great mother, one who recognised when help was needed to maintain the balance of sanity.

I’m not going to lament my lack of village any longer. I’m going to build a village. I’ve invited over a group of mums from my locality, 2 Poms, a Yank and a Dane. Sounds like a joke, doesn’t it? All we need to do is walk into a bar. They’re all here raising babies without their tribes. I’m going to suggest a weekly co-op babysitting vibe. Twice a month you look after someone else’s kids for two hours, but twice a month, you get two hours off.

It’s not huge, but it’s enough time to get your bikini line sorted before Chewbacca mistakes you for a mate, get the groceries done without having a scene in the biscuit aisle, or simply curl up and read a book quietly (might even get that book finished by 2014).


That’s all it is. Just a little space so I can just be me.
Not someone’s mum.

Not someone’s wife.

Just me.

My village may not be my tribe, but maybe we can start a new tribe?

Anyhoo, here’s some shots of my tribe I took on my trip. I really love the shit out of those guys.

If you like what you’re seeing, stick around and have a flick through some related posts.

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  • Reply Alex August 12, 2012 at 7:29 am

    I LOVE these photos – nice NICE tribe I have to admit (esp the sister in law!) xx

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys August 12, 2012 at 7:31 am

      I love that shot of her… She’ll hate it but I don’t care!!

    • Reply Toni February 10, 2013 at 6:19 pm

      Hi Danielle
      I’m a friend of Carols.
      Let me say straight up I’m a bit of a feminist.
      OK, now that’s done, the down side of over-feminism is the need for perfection. I think we women have done that to ourselves.
      There’s a need (buoyed by the media) to be the perfect everything.But guess what…it ain’t happening.
      I think that western women’s desire for success has brought about the destruction of the village. You MUST be able to do it all and do it well.
      I received the gift of my first grandchild just over a year ago. (I’m a mother of 5, the youngest being 18). He is the child of my son.
      I’ve worked very hard to have a relationship with the family, and both we and his other grandparents play a big part in his life.
      It’s comfortable enough that my d-i-l asks if she needs a break.
      Sometimes she needs a sleep. Sometimes it’s grocery shopping. whatever, it doesn’t matter to me. I treasure every moment with my little man.
      Before he was born, I talked with my d-i-l about what I consider is THE most important issue when you first have your baby – sleep.
      Sleep when he sleeps. Bugger the dishes. and so on.
      I think I have let her know it’s OK to be just focused on the baby, and to stay in your nightie, and to get take away if you want to. I let her know that being perfect is impossible and that she would wear herself out trying to be. And that it’s OK to leave your child with someone if you need time out. And it’s worked.
      We’re not a huge village. There aren’t that many people she lets keep him overnight, but she has a large circle of friends, the child has lots of aunts and uncles who interact with him regularly, and the grandparents take up the slack when required.
      (I did offer my services around the house…this is one area she found hard to accept help)
      As a result, she seems to be more relaxed than she might have been and the rest of his other family gets to know and love him.
      I didn’t have that. The offers weren’t there, and I think the heartfelt offers need to be there BEFORE mum feels ok to ask.

      hoping this all sounds ok. not feeling very eloquent today (I even had to look up “eloquent” to make sure it was the word I was thinking of)

      • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys February 10, 2013 at 9:49 pm

        Hey Toni,
        Thanks for dropping by!
        I think that you are all so lucky to have each other. A true blessing!
        I’m all for asking for help, and receiving it graciously, but of course, I do also want to be Wonder Woman!!
        You guys are lucky you all live close enough to be there for each other, and that your relationship is such that everyone wins…. Especially your gorgeous grand baby who gets such special time with you!
        Take care x

  • Reply Sister in law August 12, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Love ithe blog, love the pics, except one!!

  • Reply Favourite Aunty Carol August 12, 2012 at 8:04 am

    I love your family – can’t wait to see them in November.
    Meanwhile you know I’m part of your village, right?
    Always available for baby sitting duties but rather inconveniently I work when you need me most…

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys August 12, 2012 at 8:17 am

      Thanks, Fave!! It’s nice to be reminded of village members.
      I’m just bad a at asking. Working on it!

      • Reply Kate friend of Carol August 12, 2012 at 4:52 pm

        Mrs Smiff is totally a part of your village. The look of love that washes over her face when she talks about you and your little ones is beautiful!

  • Reply Nina August 12, 2012 at 9:52 am

    After my husband and I got married, we were making serious plans to move to another city that we loved. The only problem was that we would be away from both of our families, who thankfully live in our current city (albeit still a 30-minute drive, but at least a drive!).

    But once the kiddo was born, those plans quietly dropped out of sight, simply because we couldn’t fathom raising him without our families. We don’t have frequent babysitting options the way they do, since they all live some 5 minutes away from each other. But it’s reassuring that they’re around should we need one over the weekend.

    And baby sitting aside, I just love my family and couldn’t imagine my kid not having his aunts and uncles and cousins and grandmas around him.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys August 12, 2012 at 9:56 am

      That’s the real joy of family, Nina. Seeing the relationship between Dexter and his Nana and truly heartwarming. Boy loves Nana! We’ll move closer eventually, me thinks.

      Sent from my iPhone

  • Reply Jo Allen August 12, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I whole heartily agree with this. I have always craved a tribe, I moved to be near my family before I had kids after I married, hoping for support alias it never came and being near and getting nothing, was harder than being away, so I choose to leave and shift to the other side of the world and join my husbands tribe! The hardest thing I have ever done as although I gained his tribe I lost my tribe of friends that I love dearly! Luckily people that are true friends make the effort dispit a pain in arse 12 to 9 hour time difference, which makes phone calls hard. Thank god for Facebook and email! Two dear souls have made that massive journey around the world to come and see me and my new village an overwhelming sacrifice and show of friendship which I am still so very grateful of. I have also been blessed by meeting wonderful people who have welcomed me to their village and I now feel very blessed to have two tribes on opposite sides of the world.

    People say blood is thicker than water. I disagree my friends near and a far are my true tribe, there for the good and bad times and I would be lost without them and thank god that I have them.

    I also have always found asking for help hard, not so much as seeing it as a sign of failure, more not wanting to put on people, thinking people have enough stuff of there own to do, why should they shore up me! My husband has however taught me that one of my favourite pass times is helping people, so why take that pleasure of giving, away from them. He actually once said by never letting your friends help you, like you love to help them, you are being selfish! This put a whole new slant on the idea of receiving help. Thinking of offered help as a gift people wanted to give, rather than a burden I was offloading! I now do sometimes accept help, but still find it hard,I am still working on it and as for asking for help that’s still a very serious problem! Maybe we could set up some kind of group for our problem can’t receive or ask for help anonymous !

    Keep up the great blogs they always hit the spot! 😉 xxx

    Oh and I am lucky enough to have your lovely sister in law Bec in my tribe! 😉 xxx

  • Reply Aroha Sydney-side August 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    I deeply miss the village too. I’ve found Playgroup here to be a lifesaver surrogate (not quite a village but beggars can’t be choosers!), especially with more than one little one. And no need for invites like trying to crack in on an existing mama’s group…

  • Reply diannegray August 12, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    I was lucky when my children were little. I had a big family around me and it really helped. I still got post natal depression with my first, but my family helped me through it.
    I love your idea of building a village – you sound like a wonderful mother – good luck 🙂

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys August 12, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      Thank you, Dianne. Your comment makes me feel fuzzy. You were, and are, lucky to have such a supportive family. It’s a beautiful gift.

      Sent from my iPhone

  • Reply Heather Catlow August 13, 2012 at 5:55 am

    Thanks Danielle for that lovely blog…beautiful pics,
    esp of MY girl…Thanks for being there for her too..! Love and a hug.. Rebecca’s Momma..X

  • Reply Sister in laws sister! August 14, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Wow, love it, and thanks for being a tribe for my tribe!

  • Reply Fi @ My Mummy Daze August 20, 2012 at 7:18 am

    I love this post! Resonates with me on many levels! Fi xx

  • Reply 26yearsandcounting August 20, 2012 at 8:10 am

    As an anthropologist, I’ve never understood why Western society is so scared of polygamy! It works in many cultures around the world. I’m far too greedy to share my husband though 🙂

    I’m not a parent, but I love that you’re creating your own village, especially of people who are far away from their biological loved ones.

  • Reply Ellie at Emerald Pie August 20, 2012 at 9:38 am

    What a great post. So true. We think these days to be strong, independant and modern, we have to do everything by ourselves. When in truth, to survive, we all need help. And the more help we have, the better for our own wellbeing.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys August 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      I couldn’t agree more… why are we all so bad at asking? Or even taking up people’s who offer??

      What are you up to on the weekend? Wanna babysit 😉

  • Reply maryct70 September 1, 2012 at 5:37 am

    A lovely post, and I can relate completely. We all need a village, and sometimes the best one is what we build from scratch. Hope to catch more of your posts, and thanks for stopping by my blog today!

  • Reply Fiona September 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Great post Danielle. I totally think the lack of extended family / community is what makes motherhood such a tough gig (and let’s face it…it is. Joyful and amazing…but bloody tough if you’re doing it on your own.)

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 1, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      Yep, yep, yep…..I absolutely realise I’m not alone in feeling this. I hope you have ‘village’, Madame Seashell.

  • Reply suesphotosnack September 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Been there myself. You describe it so well. It really will get easier (and at times harder but in a different way) and you will not lose yourself. That worried me too, but you sound strong and you’ll be fine – no – you’ll be great.

  • Reply boundlessfrank September 2, 2012 at 12:25 am

    I agree – it would also help at the other end of the age-scale, i.e. looking after us oldies. We need real community, not DC’s Big Society (although I suspect his heart might be in the right [left?] place).

  • Reply becomingawisewoman September 2, 2012 at 12:41 am

    “The day to day business of raising children is not exactly difficult, but the repetition, routine and constant negotiation with a toddler can grind you down, added to the months of disturbed sleep.” This is my favorite line because it is SO DARN TRUE! I have an 18 month old and a 3 month old. However, I am one of the fortunate few that has my parents just down the road (7 minutes exactly, I timed the drive!) And my inlaws are only half an hour away. Hats of to you though for creating your own support group!

  • Reply Kelly @ adventureofalife September 5, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Yes to the village. What’s a Pom?

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      A Pom is slang for an English person.
      Not sure of the origins. It’s not offensive though… To most.

  • Reply Fiona September 6, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    well done writing about it. The babysitting co op does work too. 8 years ago 3 mothers organised wednesdays time out 2 mums looked after all the kids (6)together, including kid dinner and baths the other mother had 2 -3 hours to herself. A life saver at the time as all 3 mums had fun. Eventually there were 9 kids but the big ones were older so it became friday nights and one stayed so the mother could meet her husband after work and go from there ( just like before kids) now every month the kids have a sleepover at the others house. a whole night out starting at 4 pm through to the following morning.

    it’s now called date night!

    a little piece of the village

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 6, 2012 at 9:14 pm

      oh man, you guys are like the Mayors of the Village idea!!
      That’s awesome.
      My village idea didn’t catch on quite like wildfire, but I have got one girl keen so we’re doing a swap. Same day, two hours then swap for two hours. A village starts somewhere!

      • Reply Fiona September 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm

        Take what you can get…Take the swap! Swapping is good. (Don’t this homeschooling Mum just know it…)

  • Reply rabidlittlehippy September 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Sad to say, we don’t get a lot of familial support. My husbands family are in the UK whereas we live in Melbourne. My parents are a 40 minute drive away but there never seems to be a time when we can get them over to mind our children for a night off. We’ve organised several times but each and every time they became unavailable with late notice due to possibly getting sick or possible plan changes etc. Makes it hard to make plans and commit so we gave up trying. We are now moving further away from them and hoping that by moving to a smaller country town we can do as you are doing and build ourselves a tribe.

  • Reply theresabonner September 11, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Well said on all of it. I’ve got a 3 year old (turning 4 this week) and a 15 month old. I live 4 1/2 hours from my family and rarely see my in-laws, though they live within 20 miles of us. It’s a rough ride and I do sometimes feel like a single parent, even though my husband is an amazing father when he’s home. I do believe that this is why so many of us blog. It helps us feel somewhat connected to the world and to others going through the same. Good luck with building the village!

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys September 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      Thanks for the lucky wishes! Definitely why we blog. To keep connected, to have a voice that’s not “Don’t touch that” and “Say Please”. Good luck yourself.

  • Reply Mrs H September 15, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    I am so with you on the village concept and need for alternative support networks given how many of us live today. My three year old started preschool this week and I’ve had three mornings to myself, TO MYSELF. Wow. It’s a revelation. And actually quite a lonely one, which I wasn’t expecting! Made me realise my village was set up around activities with the kids or those hours doing a swap to get some free hours. Now I have some time, which all of us are preciously guarding (or using to work), but as a result my routines to ensure social support, outlet, fun has disappeared. I’m sure we will reestablish new patterns. Yet another example of how nothing is more certain than change, particularly where kids are concerned. Not to mention the fact that I now have zero excuses for not exercising…nothing’s perfect!!

  • Reply If You Build It, They Will Come….. « Keeping Up With The Holsbys December 8, 2012 at 7:42 am

    […] a beautiful stint home to my fam, I decided what I needed was to build a Village. Somewhere where I had support. Somewhere where I had a place to chat and vent and cry and […]

  • Reply Wrap it up…..2012 « Keeping Up With The Holsbys December 29, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    […] WANTED: ONE VILLAGE – Serious applicants need only apply […]

  • Reply coloursofsunset May 10, 2013 at 9:44 am

    It definitely takes a village, I think! I’m lucky to have my mum and 2 sisters close by. I’ve been helping one sister out with her 4 month old, when I can, and am going to make more of an effort to help my other sister out with her 2 month old. She said to me yesterday she doesn’t feel like she can keep asking for our mum to go over and give her a break b/c she’s being a bad mum. I think too many new mums feel like that, and instead of offering to babysit, we should just insist. I hope you found your village! x Aroha

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys May 10, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      I did find a village. It’s been almost a year, I think, and I have friends in the ‘hood. I feel way more settled and supported, and it a great feeling.
      You’re super lucky to be near your family.

  • Reply Cooker and a Looker May 10, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Space. That’s what I need this morning too. Luckily I’ve got a whole pile of it headed my way next week. Every year we holiday with another family. It’s an actual holiday for everyone, because it doesn’t take more than one mummy to make the dinner or bath the kids. It’s a break for us all, and I come home much more refreshed than I do when our family ventures away alone. Great post – I can see why it’s your favourite. x

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys May 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      I’ve had my BFF here for a month!! So lovely. The days just don’t seem so long with someone to banter with (and extra hands!).

  • Reply yinyangmother May 10, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Just replying now to your post on FYBF – hope your babysitting tribe is going well. We are crazy that we isolate ourselves and don’t want to ask for help. When we lived in Canada for a year on job exchange I felt particuarly isolated for the first part of the year (other than when we had family out visiting for quite a while). By the end of the year I’d made good friends who helped with babysitting and just support – with a young toddler and a school age daugther I really needed it.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys May 10, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      Hi! Why don’t we ask for help? Pride? It’s crazy, huh?
      It is more than help though, it’s just being able to download sometimes. The Village came and went and now I have a few core buddies. There is tea drunk, and that is the main thing!

  • Reply Kylez @ A Study in Contradictions May 10, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Gorgeous photos!

    We go to my mum’s place for family dinner once a week and I love it. It’s my one afternoon/evening where I don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner and I can sit down and relax and drink a cup if tea or coffee while my sisters entertain the munchkin. I dot even have to change a nappy or bathe her or get her in her PJ’s because they are more than happy to do it for me and its lovely and a nice change from the routine of every other day.

  • Reply kirstyrussell75 May 11, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    We could never live too far away from family – we rely on them too much. We have been discussing extending our village to those outside of family but making the first step is hard. Great post, hoping your village is indeed taking shape nicely!

  • Reply iSophie May 11, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Living an ocean away from family (ok well maybe it is just the bass strait) really makes it so much more important to establish a great support network of friends. Which we have done, luckily, as we have needed them from time to time with sicknesses and the like. But there is nothing like being home with all of the family, which is why I take the boys ‘home’ most holidays to be with our family.

    I agree that it makes a better mother to be able to recognise that she is allowed to have some space from time to time.

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