As I get older and get to know myself better I see that a sense of community is integral to my happiness. One of my favourite authors, Brené Brown, talks about “the need to belong” and how universal it is.
As I mentioned in my post about loneliness as a new parent, we moved into a new area right before Leo was born, so we hadn’t had a chance to build up a local support network. In fact we didn’t meet our neighbours on either side until he was several months old. Once I had made friends and some new babies were born and other families moved into the street I felt like we were ‘home’.
Summertime is always lovely for getting to know people because we are all out of doors more. The photo above is from a very happy era on our street where the kids were toddlers and they played out the front until dusk.
Having a baby/kid is a great way of meeting new people. There’s mothers’ groups and playgroups, and when they are older there’s preschools and primary schools.
Any time I spend doing something that builds community gives back ten-fold. When I think of what community means, I think of:
- Stepping out your front door and having someone to say “hi” to
- Your kid playing with a neighbour’s kid
- Helping someone with their pram going down the stairs
- Giving a nod of solidarity and compassion when you see a parent with a tantruming toddler
- Starting a meal train, or dropping some food off to a family when they’ve just had a baby or are having a tough time
- Using collective buying power to start a food co-op
- Hosting a soup swap or a Mama Bake group
- Having a street Christmas party. Easter egg hunt or other celebration
- Holding a garage sale with other families
- Doing a local team sport or exercise class
- Doing your shopping locally
- Walking or catching public transport instead of driving – you invariably meet someone
- Looking out for the kids and elderly people on your street/in your block of units
- Joining an online community that nourishes you
- Signing a petition
When Leo was two, we held a fair in our backyard. Everyone pulled together to make food and craft to sell and together we raised $1,400 for charity.
It was one of my favourite days ever, and it’s Leo’s first memory.
The feeling of belonging to a community, or communities, makes me a kinder and happier parent because it makes me a kinder and happier person.
What does community mean to you? Please leave a comment below!
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