Last month I had a baby and I thought it was ready for it. Oh boy oh boy oh boy was I wrong. I had taken the classes, read the books, and talked endlessly with my parent-friends about their experiences. Still, from the moment my little boy arrived I felt in way over my head. I knew there would be late nights but I had no idea just how much of a toll that takes on your mind and body. But this post isn’t about the details of my first weeks as a parent. I would much rather talk about an interesting concept I recently heard about that involves community support for new parents.
I’m sure you’ve heard the cliché – it takes a village to raise a child. Yes, yes, that’s all well and good. But like many things in this country, we don’t practice what we preach. My employer offers no maternity leave so I’m forced to use sick leave to get any paid time off while caring for myself and my baby after birth. I was in the hospital for less than 48 hours and sent home with some leaflets and booklets about newborns. If it weren’t for my husband, friends, and family, I probably would have had a major breakdown. So I was intrigued by something my mother-in-law told me.
She is from Switzerland and she told me that there they offer support for overwhelmed parents. For example, if your baby is screaming for hours on end or has kept you up night after night, you can take him/her to the hospital and nurses will gladly take over for a few hours while you regain your sanity. Isn’t that great? The purpose of such a service is prevent parents from going over the edge and shaking their baby. This is the type of social service that contributes to “it takes a village.” And imagine if we had something like that for more than just parents. What if you are the main caretaker for an elderly parent and could get some help when you feel overwhelmed? Or if you parent a special needs child? Or what if you need to drop yourself off for any reason? I know I would love a place to go where I could walk in, tell someone that I’m super stressed and gentle souls would take care of me for a bit. Such care centers could be life changing for some people and could prevent some truly tragic situations.
Anyone have ideas on how to get this started? I’d love to see a more “village” mentality here in the TC!
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