During a recent Shareable editorial meeting, we were tossing around article ideas and Mother’s Day came up. Seth Schneider told us about a sign he saw that said, “Nothing tells mother I love you like a steak.” We laughed at the ridiculousness of it, but it brought up some questions, the biggest one being: Is Mother’s Day broken? Is steak the appropriate way to honor the woman who made us? What about the mimosa and brunch ritual? Wouldn’t mom prefer to get some help on a day-to-day basis?
It’s nice to treat mom to a white tablecloth meal, but it feels like a relic of 1950s-era mothering. Many moms are overwhelmed these days. Between kids, work, and trying to squeeze in some semblance of a personal life, the moms I know would probably feel a lot more appreciative to get some extra help, or a day off, or a stronger circle of support.
Family dynamics are evolving. No longer are women expected to hop into a mold of domesticity that reads: marriage, house, kids, clean, consume, die. We have new freedoms, looser gender roles, and access to more helpful information than our parents could have dreamed of. And we can connect to our neighbors in new ways to build community around our children.
In the spirit of community-supported mothering, we offer the following ideas for lightening mom’s load. After all, the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child sticks with us because it’s true. Yes, a coupon for a hug is nice and will surely be appreciated, but throw a part-time, shared nanny into the mix and see how happy mom becomes.
Home-pureed vegetables for baby? Beats the stuff in jars hands-down. But, it also requires some elbow grease...and the ever-elusive time. But what if you could, at one gathering, get an abundance of different baby foods made and ready to serve, by loving moms? Welcome to the babyfood swap. You make a big batch of one thing and invite a bunch of moms over who have all made a big batch of one thing and you swap. Done. Puree for days.
Like the babyfood swap, the idea behind MamaBake is sharing big-batch food. But in this case, the moms all cook together in the same space (generally someone’s house), and we’re talking full meals, not pureed vegetables. It’s a great way to pick up food that can be served all week and build a supportive community made up of moms who know how demanding raising children can be.
Share a Nanny
Hiring a full-time nanny can be a huge expense. But, what if several families share one nanny. It’s a nifty way to provide consistency for the kids, use resources wisely and free up time for mom.
Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you stop wanting to create stuff. The catch is that those things take time...and childcare. What to do? Check out what the women behind Mothership Hackermoms are doing. A space for craft, design, entrepreneurship and creativity, this super-cool project dubs itself the first women’s makerspace and is all about supporting moms in their creative pursuits. And, yes, they provide childcare. Love this idea but want to start smaller? A casual craft night with childcare included is a good place to start.
Too much stuff makes anyone feel overwhelmed. Pare down the clutter with a toy exchange. Kids can get rid of toys they’re not interested in and find something new. And you can clear a little physical and mental space in the house for mom.
Maybe you already have a hand-me-downs chain in your community of neighbors and relatives to keep the kids clothing moving. If not, try hosting a clothing swap. You can get the kids into their current sizes without spending a dime and freshen up your own wardrobe in the process.
These are just a few ideas to help moms draw more support from their communities. Please share in comments any ideas or resources for community-supported mothering.