How to Build Your Village (When You Feel Like an Island)

According to a 2015 survey, the typical adult only lives 18 miles from his or her mom — and only 20 percent of people live more than a couple of hours from their parents. So what do you do if you’re one of those women who don’t live near their families? As we all know, it takes a village to juggle work, family and life without dropping the ball in all areas, but it can also be incredibly hard to find the right people to add to your team. Here are some ways you can put together your village.

Fight the urge to isolate. When times are tough, it’s easy to want to put your head down and just get through it. But human beings are social animals, so talking to people is incredibly important for your happiness and mental health. If you’re a new mom looking for other moms with similar-age kids, there are lots of social groups for your babies and toddlers where you can start a conversation with other moms. Look into group exercise classes, like Stroller Strides or Mommy and Me yoga, or other classes for your tyke, such as music, art and dance. Additionally, introduce yourself to the other parents at daycare or school, since those parents are likely going through a similar situation as yours. If you’re looking for friends with similar careers or interested, check sites like meetup.com, go to networking happy hours and develop real relationships with coworkers outside of the office. Don’t be afraid to ask potential friends out for coffee or a drink to see if you have chemistry.

Put together an arsenal of babysitters. Whether you have a full-time job or you’re a stay-at-home mom, you need a deep bench of childcare support. And while it can be hard to let someone else care for your children, there will come a time that you need to run errands or go to a doctor’s appointment on your own, or even just need a night away with your significant other. To find good sitters, networking is key. Ask around to find out if Greek houses at nearby college campuses offer babysitting or find a high school student in the neighborhood whom you trust. Additionally, care.com can connect you to experienced nannies and babysitters. And always be sure to interview new sitters, call references and do background checks.

Meet your neighbors. If you’re new to a neighborhood, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to the folks on your street. Neighbors are great for getting referrals for babysitters, plumbers and more, plus they’ll give you all the gossip you need to know about your community. Also be sure to find out if your neighborhood has a list serve, website or Facebook or nextdoor.com page where neighbors post about community announcements, neighborhood watch updates and other helpful tips and resources available in and around your area.

Have emergency backup. You have a pediatrician, but if you have little ones, chances are you’ll find yourself in need of a doctor on evenings and weekends. Look up the nearest after-hours care, emergency rooms and “Doc in a Box” clinics close to you, so you’ll be prepared when the inevitable late night ear infection strikes. You may also need some support until you find a solid group of friends and other outlets, and it’s important to talk through what’s happening in your life. In that case, a therapist may help bridge the gap while you’re getting your footing. Here are some tips on how to find the right therapist for you.

This story originally appeared on Modernae.com

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