Village-building is a skill we’ve lost, so it’s good to be very intentional and structured with our approach. We’re going to make three lists.
List #1: who do you want in your village?
Make a list of all the people in your life, who are geographically close to you, and who you trust and like. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know them that well yet. Some surprises might come up. There may be people who you feel “should” be in your village, but you really don’t want them around you. Just be honest. Nobody has to see this.
List #2: what do you do for your household?
Now make a list of everything you do to run your household. So that may include things like cooking meals, folding laundry, mending if you’re someone who mends, taking the rubbish out, mowing the lawn, taking your older children to school or activities.
List #3: what do you do for yourself?
And finally I want you to make a list of all things that you do for yourself, by yourself. So that would be things like having a shower, getting dressed, getting your hair or nails done, having a massage, going to the gym. In this list please include the things that you do to relax; things that are deeply enjoyable or calming for you. Having a bath, burning essential oils, listening to music, getting together with your friends, even something as simple as taking 5 minutes to brush your hair every night before bed, moisturising your skin… really look for those moments in your daily routine. Write them all down.
(Why do these things matter? Well, to experience a peaceful postnatal, you need to punctuate your life with moments of bliss and calm. This is because oxytocin, the happiness hormone, plays a massive role in the ability of a newborn mother to heal and thrive.)
Now, you are not going to be hanging laundry the day after your baby is born. It’s critical that you have a period of rest and retreat. This is essential for your long-term health. You’re going to delegate those tasks to the people in your life. Go ahead and do that now. Decide who you can ask to cook dinner, run errands, mow the lawn.
The next step is actually asking your village for help. Pre-industrialisation, we wouldn’t have needed to do this. Your village would have rallied round you after the birth and supported you practically and emotionally. It was like a natural phenomenon. But now with the loss of our village we need to be far more intentional and really lay the foundations for a supported postnatal time. So you need to ask people to do specific things for you, like bring meals, peg out your laundry, take older kids to school, hold the baby so you can nap or shower.
Once you’ve delegated all the tasks you’re able to, you’re probably going to see some gaps. There are probably more tasks than people, which can seem a little scary. So then you can think about which types of supports you want to outsource.
Plan for calm & connected
Now look at the things that you do for yourself, and imagine trying to do those things with your hands tied behind your back, because that’s what it’s like having a newborn. It also takes five times as long to do anything.
Circle three of those things, the ones that are most important to you. Those are the things you’re going to try and incorporate in your postnatal plan. It’s good to stick this list on the fridge, and later you can refer back to it and make sure you’re actually doing the things you picked.
There is a lot more to plan, but hopefully this has helped you make a start. In my workshops for expectant couples, we do this kind of planning together. Then I help you go deeper in a private postnatal planning session. I also offer premium support packages so that I can support you in your home after your baby is born.
So the next step is to book into a workshop. See you soon!