I’m reading a book right now called Raising Happiness by Christine Carter. I decided to read this book because my kindergartener tends to be a “glass-half-empty” kind of girl. When I’m feeling joyful because it’s sunny, she’s pouting because it’s too bright out.
Chapter 2 in this book is about building a village… It takes a village to raise a child. At first glance, my thought was that this topic doesn’t really help make my child happier, but I was wrong. I often think about how lucky I am to have family living so close to me. My sister lives in my neighborhood and so does my sister-in-law. All of the cousins go to the same school and help me tremendously with with before and after school care. The grandmas are both retired now too and jump in to help quite often. Some of you are probably thinking, “Well, that’s great for you, but I don’t have family close by!”
Let me tell you about another VERY important member of my village. Her name is Diane and even though we aren’t related by blood, I feel as close to her as any other member of my family. Diane and I met when our kids were in the same infant room at a daycare center. (Actually we met in our child birth class, but we didn’t even remember each other.) When our oldest kids were three, we started mom and me swim lessons together.
Pretty soon, we found that our kids played really well together and started trading child care now and then. When our kids were three, we were both pregnant with our second babies. At that point we started working on something we just called “The Plan”. Our crazy idea was that if we both worked part time, working exactly opposite schedules, we could share child care and save ourselves $1,500 each month in child care. We would raise our kids like they were brothers and sisters (except they’d go home to their own houses at night). We started when our babies were 9 months old and the big kids were 3.
My son is now 9, and my daughter is 6. The babies have gone off to kindergarten and the big kids are fourth graders.
WE DID IT! We made this crazy plan of ours work. We created a village and raised our children together.
So, why am I telling you this story?
In chapter 2 of Raising Happiness, the author talks about building your village. As a parent, I COULD NOT SURVIVE without my village. Yes, some of my village members are family. But there may be someone out there who is just waiting to invite you into their village. Relationships with other people is KEY to providing happiness in our lives. Children who are embedded in a strong network of parents, friends, neighbors, and family are happier children. Playing with other kids teaches friendship skills. When YOU make connections with the parents of your child’s friends you are modeling how to foster relationships!
I’m urging you to reach out to families. Invite kids for playdates and get to know families on a personal level. Maybe you’ll find a Diane, someone who is as close as family and ready to be part of your village.