It Takes a Village and It’s Not Just a Cliché

Raising a child is a monumental task for any parent—whether it’s the year 1, the 1400’s, or 2018. That’s why the concept of “the village” has remained so crucial to child rearing.

The Perks and the Pitfalls

There’s no specific definition of the people in “the village” other than they generally include family, friends, and neighbors, give or take a few. Even before you have children—when you’re pregnant—your people are there to help, give advice, and also, annoy you.

But that’s the beauty of a community-based support system. Everyone needs a hand now and then. And, we also grow and feel a sense of fulfillment when we’re the helper. It’s a give-and-take, information-sharing, and learning/teaching system; Cultivating that philosophy can help you, your children, and your family feel secure—especially in times of parenting dire straits.

How to Build Your Own Village

You may really like your existing biological or married-into family. And they may live nearby. And they may be willing to lend some advice, a hand, some babysitting, and some money. But that’s a lot of some “maybes.”

Most Americans aren’t fortunate enough to check “yes” to all (or even one) of the boxes above. We’re a transient society for the most part, and, face it, family as it was celebrated in the old country, just doesn’t exist here anymore that often. That’s why it’s necessary for young parents to cultivate their own village within their large circle of circumstance.

When They’re Babies…

If mom or dad is fortunate enough not to have to go into the office when a baby is young, it’s an ideal time to make new tribal friends. “Mommy and Me”–type classes are a great way to meet new parents like yourselves. Local parks, zoos, and shopping centers are always full with parents looking for ways to occupy their little ones outside the home. These are ideal environments to meet like-minded peers.

If you’re going to work, many coworkers will share the experience of having their children in daycare, too. It’s a great starting-off conversation point.

Don’t be afraid to chat about your lack of: sleep, healthy meals, sex, or even an adult conversation. Everyone with an infant or toddler is in the same playpen.

When They’re in Primary School…

Volunteering is an awesome way to meet other parents and your kids’ peers. Go to all the meetings, presentations, and shows, if your schedule allows. You’ll find you run into the same adults over and over. Some you will feel an affinity with—others you wished you never met. Either way, they’re part of your extraneous village, and you need to be respectful and grateful to have them aboard.

After-school activities are also another way to collect more members into your kinship. Someone’s always got to divvy up snack-duty, cleanup, or keep score.

By Middle School…

If you haven’t moved locations too often when the kids were really young, by middle school, you should have at least a foot (if not a strong standing) within a workable, helpful village.

By this point, you can trust other parents to drive your kid home from school or a birthday party. You, too, can be expected help other families when their kids need rides or food, or a place to stay until another working parent finally gets home after dark.

By High School…

At this point, it becomes a lot more serious. Sex, alcohol, drugs, impulsivity and other teenage perilous behaviors come into play during this stage of parenting. This is where your village needs to be fortuitous and candid.

If anyone in your village thinks their kid isn’t partaking in (or at least witness to) any of the above, it may be time to offer them a neighborly wake-up call.

No one likes snoops or snitches. But when it comes to your child’s welfare, maybe that’s what a villager’s job is when your kid is a teen. Letting another parent gently know that their child was seen doing  (fill in the blank), can cause embarrassment and defensiveness. But if the information ultimately helps the child, the parent, or the family overall, perhaps your village duty has been accomplished admirably.

Village, People!

However you decide to parent and whatever obstacles have led to hardships in your parenting arena, know that out there, somewhere, there is a village ready to embrace you and yours.

Calm The Mind
Calm The Mind

Kid Friendly Activities to Fit Your Budget

You’re looking for something to do with your kid, but you don’t want to spend $300 for a day at Disneyland. Wherever you’re located, there are several, fun, inexpensive, appropriate activities available for you and your youngster. We’ve got some budget-minded (and even free!) suggestions to lend to a memory-making day.

No Kid-ding, There’s a Lot to Do!

Sometimes it seems like there’s nothing to do. You want to do something with your child, but you just can’t come up with a new activity. It might feel like you’re always doing the same thing, or you can’t afford certain luxury outings.

Whether you live in a rural town, suburbia, or a city, believe it or not, there’s a plethora of options you can add to your child’s activity list. What seems like boring “big person” stuff can actually be kid-friendly and, ultimately, kid-enjoyable.

Friendly Faces and Culture Galore

Wherever you live or are visiting, the place has a history. It can be a memorable time when both you and your kid get to incorporate learning with a fun experience. Most locations have landmarks or historical symbols worth discovering and exploring.

Often, a local paper will note activities related to ceremonies, parades, and other cultural events that will take place. You’d be surprised how interesting the history of your locale can be. Many times there are re-enactments of historical events.

It’s also intriguing to hear about original settlers who arrived at your location. Cultural foods, costumes, and wares are often presented at fairs and other “town” events. There’s usually no admission fee to attend these types of festivals.

In a larger city, your opportunity to enjoy a variety of cultural events is widened. You can always go online and Google, “Kid-friendly things to do in__(your location)__ on      (the date)”.

Kid-Friendly Familiar Outings

  • The zoo is always a great place to visit. Check and see if your zoo offers tours or animal shows.
  • Museums are amazing. It can be something other than just the “Natural History.” Check out art museums, science, space, aircraft, even miniatures.
  • Aquariums are fascinating. Getting to learn about and watch sea creatures will fill a day with information and intrigue.
All of the above entry fees are minimal or sometimes by donation only.

Free Kid Activities (or Super Cheap)

  • In the winter if you’re near snow, there’s always sledding, snowball tossing, and snowman building.
  • In the summer if you’re near the beach or a lake, there’s always swimming, surfing, and sandcastle building.
  • Take a bus, train, tram, or ferry to somewhere nearby you’ve never been. Or, take any new mode of transportation just for the experience of riding it!
  • Check out what’s going on at the library. Sometimes there are great live-readers, storytelling, workshops, or free movies.
  • Visit a farmer’s market. Besides the delicious produce, there’s often musicians, craftsmen, and other artisans presenting their talents and wares.
  • Grab a couple of sleeping bags and a can of beans and go camping. An overnight in the mountains, desert, or even a backyard can be a memorable, fun time.
  • Visit a pet shelter. Go say hi to the animals. They love the attention, and they bring a smile to children’s faces. (Just don’t bring a new puppy home if your family is not equipped physically or financially.)

When Stuck, Indoor Activities

  • Play dodgeball with rolled up pairs of socks
  • Build a fort with chairs, sheets, towels, and blankets
  • Play card games and learn and practice card tricks
  • Tie-dye old socks, t-shirts, and pillow cases
  • Play hide and seek
  • Draw self-portraits on the bathroom mirror with lipstick or dry-erase markers

If you get into the mindset of a child’s imagination, the ideas for kid-friendly activities can be endless. Cherish your time together, no matter what you choose to experience. For other ideas on family matters, health, and optimum living, check out www.GetThrive.com