My husband and I moved out of state and away from both of our friends and families six years ago. We made the move for work, which was a good thing, but now that we have kids, it makes things challenging.
We still live close enough that some family members can still visit from time to time, but otherwise, it’s just us. We are raising kids without a support network. As a stay-at-home mom, this is incredibly isolating.
Many days, I wish I could just get an hour to myself, but I can’t until bedtime. When I am taking the kids on a fun outing, I can get overwhelmed wrangling the toddler and baby from car seats to strollers and back again, and I wish I had an extra pair of hands.
Those things might be possible if we were close to family.
They say it takes a village – but we don’t have the village.
There are some things I have done to keep myself sane when it’s just me and the kiddos all day. Here are my tips for raising kids when you don’t have your support network.
Take Advantage of Any Help You Have
My mom drives up to see us for two days twice a month. It’s not a lot, but we make the most of it. During this time, we schedule date nights, doctor’s appointments, and time to ourselves.
Even if it’s just one a month, or once every few months, try to schedule some relief when help is in town, or you are in town with help.
Communicate with Your Partner
If you’re raising kids just the two of you, things are going to get tough. You desperately want a break, your partner desperately wants a break – you don’t want to end up playing back and forth games for who is the most tired or whose needs are more important.
My husband and I often refer to each other as team mates. We’ve built our home and family together, and we are maintaining them together. We discuss household issues frequently and have each other’s backs.
We tag team the bedtime routine so it goes smoothly and so we can both get our night time quiet sooner rather than later.
When you feel like you’re on the same team and support each other, raising a family away from everyone you know can feel less daunting.
Skype or FaceTime
When you can’t be with the people you’re close to in person, seeing each other on a Skype or FaceTime call is the next best thing.
If you have friends or family who are separated by distance, this might be the way you keep that connection.
This is especially helpful with younger kids, who are more likely to connect to a face than a voice on the phone.
My kids talk to my mother on Facebook video chat frequently. When she hasn’t visited in a while, this allows her to see the changes that are happening so rapidly with her grand babies.
My toddler loves showing Grandma his toys and my 10-month-old even recognizes grandma’s face and smiles broadly at the phone screen.
Hire a Babysitter or Mother’s Helper
If even occasional help from friends and family isn’t possible, hire a babysitter. I know, it can be hard to find someone you trust, especially if you’re new in town and don’t even know anyone to ask for a recommendation.
There’s a couple of great resources for you
- Care.com – A babysitter/nanny search site where you can message available sitters in your area with recommendations, background checks, and certifications.
- Nextdoor.com – A private social network for just your neighbors. You can use Nextdoor to ask for local babysitter recommendations, and you might even get to know your neighbors in the process!
- Local Mom Groups on Facebook – Search Facebook and see if there are any groups for you area. Join the group and ask for recommendations there.
If you’re not ready to leave your little ones with someone, a mother’s helper might do the trick. You don’t have to actually leave your house, but your mother’s helper will be there to give you some relief while you get chores done or take a little nap.
Join a Play Date Group
Many cities have a local group of moms who get together for play dates. My town has a couple, and they are life savers. My kids get much-needed socialization, I get much-needed socialization, and we do something fun.
Our group even schedules outings to zoos, aquariums, and other local attractions. These kids of activities can be a real bear to do by yourself, especially if you have more than one kid. The other moms in the group can lend a hand and help keep an eye on each other’s kids.
Parents as Teachers is an organization that has groups that arrange play dates and kids activities, and it has chapters all over the country. They also do home visits for families that might really be struggling. They are an excellent resource.
Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) is another great program for mom support (and moms with kids of any age can participate).
Find a Support Group Online
There are plenty of resources available for moms and families online.
One of the first things I would try is a Facebook mom group. There are LOTS of mom groups out there, and some are better than others, so you have to find what works for you.
There are groups that focus on location, and these are useful for meeting new people where you live.
There are also specialized groups. You could search for groups that focus on breastfeeding support or moms with special needs kids.
Another place to look is Peanut, which is a lot like a dating app, except it’s for moms. You can use it to find like-minded mamas to chat or meet up with.
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Get Out of the House
Being cooped up at home every day will probably drive you and your kids insane. Just saying. Even if you don’t really have a reason, make a trip out.
Peruse Target, let the kids hang out at the playground, or just go for a walk.
What’s one of the easiest ways to get most young kids to sleep? The car!
When I want a little break, I strap my kiddos in the car and go for a drive. I bring a book, swing by Starbucks, and find a quiet place to park and chillax while they sleep. (I wrote about my summer reading list here if you want some book recommendations!)
Just feeling like your a part of the busy world can alleviate some of the isolation.
Schedule and Routine
If you can get your little ones on a schedule, things could be a lot easier for you when you’re on your own.
Kids love routines because they are predictable and they know what’s happening next. If meal time, play time, and sleep time are at roughly the same times every day, your kids can get into a rhythm and you are less likely to have meltdowns and fights.
Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. I’ve often tried to maintain a schedule but it doesn’t always work. Sometimes my kids don’t stick to it, and sometimes I don’t. Still, there are some things we do consistently and it keeps the chaos at bay when I’m with them all day.
Are you feeling totally stressed and need a break, but aren’t sure how to make time for self-care? Check out my post 7 Ways To Practice Self-Care When You’re an Overwhelmed Mom.
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