I was very lucky when I had my first baby because I had a neighbour with two children, Natalie, who helped me out so much. I could just turn up in tears. She'd hold my baby, make me tea, and feed me and I'd go back home, an hour or two later, restored. One day my husband came home from work to find cold toast in the toaster and beans in a saucepan, and no wife or baby. I was at Natalie's - I'd been there all afternoon, after it had taken me almost two hours to fail to make myself lunch. Evenso, there were days when I would wander aimlessly round the village we lived in, holding back tears, feeling so alone and at sea - and so tired.
Life did get better. I was the first of my antenatal friends to give birth, and anyway we were all struggling new mums but later we lived in each others' houses, pulling together lunches, doing each other's washing up. The days alone became bearable because they were few.
Now, as a doula, antenatal teacher and baby massage teacher I am seeing mums in similar situations, all in varying levels of coping, depending on the day and how much sleep they've had. I see wonderful mums struck down by pnd. So I started a monthly coffee meet up so they can start to make friends, and get out of the house. Then I came across this article 'In the absence of a village mothers struggle most'. We all know the African proverb 'It takes a village to raise a child.' A village in this context isn't physical houses and roads, and it doesn't mean we can't live in towns, what it does mean is that we all need a Natalie - at least one! We need to share the burden of motherhood, and of fatherhood, between us. We need the social aspect as much as the practical. We do better job when we have spent time having tea and cake.
So here's my vision: we know a woman in our road has a baby - we drop a dish of food around, we invite her in for coffee, we don't try and tidy up too much. If we have a new baby we don't feel guilty for spending all afternoon having tea and cake while our children play. We start coffee meet ups in each other's houses, in cafes, at parks. We say come for lunch, without worrying that the breakfast stuff is still out. Because it is too hard to do it on your own.
Here's a vlog I did, just before a Chilled Mama meet up.