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Real Moms Share Tips on How to Find Your Village

Ideas for how to ask for help, get family involved and build a network of people who have your back.
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By Anna Davies, Contributing Writer
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When I became a solo mom eight years ago, I thought I could do everything on my own (including taking the subway to the hospital). It took about two hours in labor to realize I needed support. I texted a close friend, who texted our extended circle. My “village” showed up— providing hand-me-downs, advice and a lifeline during those hazy newborn days. But a support system isn’t just essential for solo parents. Partnered or not, it’s important to find those people who have your back—even when you’re a sleep-deprived, spit-up-covered zombie. Here, real moms share how they built their support system with their newborn—and the advice they would give other new parents on how to do the same.

Put yourself out there.

“I found my village by posting on social media to see if anyone wanted to walk together during my maternity leave. We had about five women! Since then, one has moved away, but I’m still close with the other ladies, two years later!”

Sarah, mom of a 2-year-old, Jersey City, NJ

Consider letting family help from afar.

“My parents are older, so they can’t actively take care of my son. But they do want to help, and they have the means. We discussed what took up a lot of my time, and one thing they decided to take on was buying clothes for my son each season. It’s one thing off my plate, and my parents appreciate being part of my son’s life.”

Samantha, mom of a 3-year-old, San Francisco

Create a group on social media.

“I had to accept that the idea of the ‘village’ we’ve been sold doesn’t exist [for me]. We don’t have nearby family, we don’t know our neighbors and someone passing by on the street may smile at your newborn, but they’re not going to offer to go grocery shopping for you. What I wanted during those first newborn days was to feel like I wasn’t alone—that people understood what I was going through. So I decided to create and co-run a local moms’ group. We exist on Instagram and host coffee meetups, dinners and walks. Our DMs are always open. We have a WhatsApp group. And it’s become the village I needed.”

Gabrielle G., 37, mom of a 4-year-old and newborn, Los Angeles

Learn to speak up for yourself.

“I didn’t know how to tell friends and family what I needed when I became a parent. But I knew I needed something. Therapy was really helpful for me. It helped me learn to express what I needed and advocate for myself, which helped me let other people in. People do want to help—it’s important to let them, and that starts by getting vocal.”

Denise, 35, mom to a 7-year-old, Bayonne, NJ

Try a little bit of everything.

“I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person, so I threw myself into every mommy meetup I could find—including yoga, which I hate. I am introverted, but I really pushed myself. As my child got older and we were going to the park, I would make myself exchange numbers with moms I met if our kids were playing. I have so many numbers in my phone! Not every mom texted back, which was hard, but the ones that did were worth it. I would say, just put yourself out there. Some meetups will be awkward. But then you’ll find the mom who laughs at your jokes, and who gets you, and it’s so worth it.”

Yvo, 42, mom to a 6-year-old and 4-year-old, Queens, NY

Be honest with your partner.

“Both of our worlds changed when I had a baby, but I felt like I was always the one on call. I felt like my husband truly didn’t understand just how intense it was becoming a new mom. He wanted to help, of course, but I was breastfeeding so that made it challenging. What worked for us was getting really honest about our feelings. We made time every day, no matter how tired we were, to talk about us. Over time, those check-ins turned into being able to really come up with ways to make sure we were both getting the support we needed. For example, he would get up with me when I fed my son in the middle of the night, which transitioned into him being easily able to take over bottle duty when pumping made sense.”

Kelly, 32, mom to a 1-year-old, Minneapolis

Tap into your coworkers.

“I joined a Slack group for parents at my job before I had my son. I was intrigued, but also, the conversations went over my head. Cue birth. Even though I was on maternity leave, I would regularly jump into the Slack group and ask questions. And I was amazed at how helpful my coworkers were. I found one who lived just a few blocks away, and we became pretty good friends.”

Jen, 31, mom to an 8-month-old, Seattle

Outsource whatever you can.

“My family lives in India, and my husband and I knew we wanted to prioritize getting to know our new family. That meant we budgeted so that we could outsource things like cleaning, folding clothes and cooking.”

Priya, mom to a 4-year-old and 2-year-old, New York City

Prep before baby.

“My husband and I took classes on newborn care together, and we committed to reading the same books and articles. That way, I felt neither of us ‘knew more’ than the other, and we could also more easily know what was coming, so we could anticipate and build a plan.”

Rachel, 27, mom to a 1-year-old, Highlands Ranch, CO

Be clear about what you need.

“One of the best pieces of advice I had before I had my son was to make a list of everything that we might need or want. My friends who had become parents before said that people would say, ‘Let me know if you need anything.’ The issue was knowing what I needed. So I got really specific. For example, my dad isn’t a baby person. I don’t think he’s ever changed a diaper. But when he visited, I was able to ask him to help break down boxes and get them ready for recycling, to bring in my car and get the oil changed and to head to the grocery store. I asked a neighbor if they could walk our dogs on a Saturday when my husband wasn’t home. It can feel awkward, but having a list at least helps you figure out what you need.”

Laura, 39, mom to a 5-year-old, Eastham, MA

Find places where other parents hang out.

“I am not a yoga person. I am not a group person. But two months into maternity leave, I went to a baby yoga class. While I didn’t love the class itself, I did love that a group of women went—with their babies—to the restaurant across the street after. I would say it’s great to show up in spaces where other parents and babies will be, even if it’s not your ‘thing.’ You might find yourself meeting people who you click with.”

Kristin, 33, mom to a 1-year-old, Summit, NJ

Share the Care

“When my daughter was a newborn, the mess of my house was so triggering for me. My mom would come over and feed my daughter a bottle (Philips Avent Natural glass bottles for me!) and just hold her so I could focus on laundry, straightening up my kitchen and other household tasks that I found oddly enjoyable postpartum. At the end of those days, I ended up with a clean house, happy baby and a much better mental state. My mom also cherished the time with my daughter, so it was a win for all three of us!”

Carly, 34, mom to a 3-year-old and 1-year-old, Port Chester, NY

Philips Avent understands that we can best take care of baby when we take care of ourselves too. That’s why they create products that help parents around the world find solutions to their struggles, so they can focus on taking more time for themselves and connecting as a family. Read more on The Bump.com.

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