When I had my first baby—a little girl—I wanted to do everything myself. I’m a type A perfectionist, and I didn’t trust anybody else with my baby. With only one baby and a flexible work-from-home job, I actually was able to do it all… most of the time.
Fast forward three and a half years, and my world was turned upside down by newborn twin boys. No matter how much I wanted to, I just couldn’t do it all anymore. I knew that if I tried, I would quickly head straight to burnout, just like 55% of stay-at-home moms who reported feeling burned out in Motherly’s 2022 State of Motherhood survey. As a former high school teacher, I’ve been through the throes of complete burnout before, and I was not looking to head there again.
I knew I needed that ever-elusive village that our parents and grandparents talk about. The problem was, though, that I didn’t live in the same home or even the same town as my family members who would make up my village. Like many other moms, physical distance separates me from my village. I live about an hour away from my closest relative.
Once people knew I needed help, they began to help without even asking.
I knew that if I wanted my village to show up, I needed to send out a call. I had to set down my pride and ask for help, and when I did, the most amazing thing happened. My village showed up in droves.
When asked “what do you need,” no longer did I respond with, “We’re good, thank you though!” After my boys were born, I began responding with “help with meals would be amazing,” or “could you come play with Ellie outside so I only have to focus on the babies?”
Once people knew I needed help, they began to help without even asking. Like when my sister dropped by to play with my toddler or when my best friend showed up with bags of hand-me-down clothes or when my sister-in-law offered her extra breastmilk to make sure I had enough for my babies.
There are some people who truly don’t have a village, even when they ask. If that’s your situation, I’m so, so sorry, and I wish I could be there to be your village. It might take a little bit of work, but you can still create a village for yourself.
A great place to start is story time at your local library or a Moms of Preschoolers (MOPs) group. When my firstborn was a baby, story time was just as much for her development as it was for my mental health. It helped break up the monotony by getting us out of the house and into a supportive environment.
Once you’re there socializing with other moms, the trick to finding your village remains the same: ask for it. When someone casually asks how you’re doing, be honest. You’ll find that most — if not all — moms want to help and will step right in if you only ask.
So when you’re crying in your bedroom donning an adult diaper and milk-soaked nursing pads wondering where your village is, remember that it might just be a text away.
In Motherly's 2022 State of Motherhood survey, 40% of moms said that more support would help with their burnout. For me, the support has helped me avoid burnout altogether. Additionally, 24% of the Gen X moms surveyed said that a simple shift in the mindset that a woman could do it all would help ease burnout.
You see, it’s easy to believe we’re supposed to do it all. We don’t want to admit we need help, and in today’s perfectly curated social media feeds, it often looks like we’ve got it all together when we’re really drowning. We don’t want to admit that we need a village.
So when you’re crying in your bedroom donning an adult diaper and milk-soaked nursing pads wondering where your village is, remember that it might just be a text away. Your village is still there but sometimes, you just need to ask.
Motherly designed and administered this survey through Motherly’s subscribers list, social media and partner channels, resulting in more than 17,000 responses creating a clean, unweighted base of 10,001 responses. This report focuses on the Gen X cohort of 1197 respondents, millennial cohort of 8,558 respondents, and a Gen Z cohort of 246 respondents. Edge Research weighted the data to reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the US female millennial cohort based on US Census data.