By Rod Waddington from Kergunyah, Australia (Hamer Tribe, Turmi, Ethiopia Uploaded by russavia) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Finding your tribe

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Growing up – we are surround by our tribe – our school friends, our college/university/work friends, people you meet in classes and groups, our family, random people you meet that pop into your life – this is your tribe – people who you CHOOSE to spend time with.  Those you spend your time laughing, dancing, singing, crying – nursing hangovers with much needed coffee and bacon butties. How good do these friends make you feel? These are people you can be vulnerable with.  People who bring the best out of you.  People you trust.  People who are there for you.

When we have babies, our tribe – that is people we surround ourselves by, through choice, might not be in the same place or are still busy in their own lives whether working, travelling or looking after their own children. More often than not, we are going through our journey on our own and we need to find our new tribe.  For many, this journey into parenthood is monumental and completely turns your world, the world you have known for so long, into disarray.

Historically, we’ve always lived in tribes – we’ve been submerged in a community made up of a a mix of close family, relatives, friends, neighbours, village elders and more.  We’ve lost this sense of community and support and I truly believe that this is one of the reasons that there is now such a high number of parents (both mums and dads) diagnosed with some sort of perinatal mental health illness such as PND.  We don’t have people around us to look after us, support us, gently lead us down the path of parenthood.  We don’t see first hand what it’s like to be a new parent – whilst many of us have held a baby, until you have your own baby, you have no idea how exhausting looking after a baby (or two) is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  We need that community around us to help us through the transition and it needs to be a community that’s unique to you.

Finding your tribe can be challenging and for many can make the first few weeks of parenthood isolating.  Antenatal classes such as NHS or NCT will bring groups of people together which can be a much needed tribe for many sharing an experience at the same time, however, if your values and philosophies are different around parenting, relationships and life – it can be hard to honestly and openly express what you’re truly feeling.  Often you need something on top of just having babies at the same time – common interests (whether a passion for knitting or wine) or ideologies are just as important.  Other classes, whether pregnancy yoga, pilates or active birth preparation classes might be where you find your support – generally similarly minded people will be attracted to the same classes.  Local activities can be somewhere to go in the postnatal period – mother and baby groups, music classes, swimming classes etc – these all help you to find people you can connect with. And as I found, some of your closest tribe are those you literally just bump into with your buggy out walking.

It’s important that you have that support and tribe round you – so you can share your worries and concerns (which you will have!) with people who are experiencing or have experienced what you are and can understand and empathise with you.  If you’re not comfortable in a group, don’t feel you need to keep that relationship growing. Spend time with people who you want to.

I do remember one twin mum many year ago in the first twins antenatal class I facilitated found her tribe in a local knitting circle.  She struggled with some of her local antenatal classes and groups and found this local knitting circle – full of many years of wisdom.  She would go with her twins who were entertained for a couple of hours and she got time to sit and knit.  They would spend time listening to her and pass down all their knowledge and experience – this became part of her tribe. So maybe pop into your local community centre and find out ALL the activities they have on and find something that you feel attracted to.

I’m blessed with the tribe I have formed over the last few years – from all sorts of places – yoga classes, twins club, pnd groups, buggy walks, doulas and just random people who have all walked into my life as I’ve needed them and helped me form my own little tribe of happiness.

Much love, Tricia xxxx