Where has our village gone?
I often get asked why I do what I do.
Alongside my belief that good sleep is vitally important to the way children are able to grow and develop (and the way we, as adults, can function!), I’ve proven time and again that the early years of parenting don’t have to be fraught with the torture of sleep deprivation.
Not only that, I get genuinely excited about helping struggling parents discover this too.
And I believe this help is genuinely needed…
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but nowadays this is mostly just lip service – a traditional or nostalgic-sounding turn of phrase.
The reality is that the so-called ‘village’ of old is long gone. It’s no longer common to see extended family all raising children under the same roof, or in some cases, even in close proximity.
And the result is that parenting can be a pretty tough gig!
Many parents feel as though they’re going it alone, with little or no support. Instead of our communities of yesteryear, it’s common now for families to have two working parents, outsourced childcare and the pressures of million dollar mortgages.
None of this is ‘wrong’ per se but it is our reality. And it all adds additional pressures to the fact that we’re learning as we go, trying to trust our intuition (or even slow down long enough to hear it!) and doing our very best for our small humans.
The shifting shape of support
I see so many parents who are ashamed to seek help in supporting their children to sleep. They feel as though they are somehow failing.
They wonder if they’re being selfish because – despite the huge benefits improved sleep will have for their child’s development, nutrition and behaviour – they’re also desperate for the extra zzzzzs or downtime their child’s improved sleep will bring them.
They’re worried that they’ll be judged as a mum. And there is a lot of judgement. A lot of the times we put something out in the media there’s some measure of backlash – but if we consider where this is coming from, a lot of it starts with ‘back in my day…’
There’s no reason for the judgements and, in fact, they’re unfounded and unfair. History shows that everyone has had support in the home – it’s just that it looks different now. In the absence of our more traditional ‘village’, necessity demands that this support take different forms.
Re-imagining our village
In this day and age, sleep consultants – and any manner of similar professionals – are filling the void. It’s not about telling people how to parent. It’s about reassurance and guidance – the support and knowledge transfer that would have once happened implicitly from your ‘village’.
None of the parents we work with are looking for a perfect situation, or for their children to be the picture of perfection. But they do need something to get a bit better; they want to support their children to sleep better, both so that their little loves can grow and thrive, and so that they can keep their sanity (and often their relationships and households!) intact. There is absolutely no shame in that.
We’re all doing the very best we can, after all. And our best is absolutely good enough.
In this digital and global age, there’s no doubt that times have changed. Perhaps it’s time that our understanding of a village does too. Nobody can possibly claim that parenting is easy – it’s true that it takes a village. From online communities, to coffee groups or the help of professionals, seek support wherever you can find it.