“Find your tribe, love them hard”.
For all the joy it brings, parenting can also be one of the loneliest jobs in the world. The adage that it takes a village to raise a child still holds true, but the onus is now on us to construct our own communities and find our own tribes. Whether you’re a first-time parent or not, you can never have too many people around you who know exactly what you’re going through and can provide love and support when the (not-always-proverbial) sh*t hits the fan. Here’s how to find them:
1. Join relevant Facebook groups. There’s a group for everything nowadays, from general ones for parents in your local area to specific interest groups, such as single parenthood, triplets, adoption, etc. If you can’t find one that applies to you or if the group(s) you find have fallen into disuse, then start your own.
2. Scour social media channels for likeminded folk. You can do hashtag searches on Twitter and Instagram to find other parents who are talking about the things that matter to you, and then you just need to join the conversation! Try searching for the area you live in to get started.
3. Find likeminded parents by selecting classes and activities based on your own interests, rather than what you think you should be doing with your child. For example, if you’re a film buff, head to baby cinema and strike up a conversation about the movie with your neighbour. If you love yoga, find a class you can go to with your child.
4. Become a regular. Following on from the last point, become a regular face at the classes you like and even offer to help out if the opportunity arises. Before you know it, everyone will know who you are and you’ll have a new community of potential mates.
5. Join the conversation on online forums. While forums seem a bit old school in our world of Facebook and apps, they’re still a lively source of conversation and support in the parent community. Use them to ask questions or simply to have a good old natter. Here are the most popular ones to get you started:
6. Use the kids. As we all remember from that episode of Friends where Phoebe tries to force Ross and Sting’s sons to be friends, you can’t push your child in the direction of the kid with the cool parent. However, you can follow your child’s lead by finding out who they play with and approaching the friend’s parent to suggest a playdate.
7. Use an app. While the bright young things are turning to Tinder et al. for their dating needs, mums can register with Mush to meet likeminded women in their local area for playdates (or post-bedtime wine!) We haven’t spotted an equivalent app for the dads yet, but the menfolk can search Meetup for local social groups they can join.
A final word: Don’t forget that friendships take time and effort, so try not to get discouraged if you don’t meet your perfect match straight away. Just because someone is a parent to a child of the same age, this doesn’t mean you are definitely going to get along. Be prepared to put in the work, knowing that it will be worth it in the end.
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