It's a truism to say that it takes a village to raise a child. But in our modern culture, parents do the heavy lifting for society of raising the next generation of human beings, and they do it with very little social support. in the absence of a village, individual families have to work overtime to cobble together resources and try to stay sane raising their children. 

As Jennifer, one of my clients, said in an email:

"We don't talk enough about how not having a tribe affects us as parents....the exhaustion, and need for community and help."

So while I hope you're having lots of lovely connection time with your child, we all need warm relationships with other adults. Someone who will listen and commiserate, or simply talk with us about politics or parenting theory instead of legos and lollipops.

When we don't get that connection, we may end up looking to our kids, and of course it isn’t appropriate for children to take care of parents emotionally. I know you feel a fountain of love for your child, but you can’t keep all that love flowing if you don’t get some love yourself. Without warm contact with other adults, we end up with hungry hearts.

That's not good for you. It's not what you want to model for your child. And you having a hungry heart just makes you resentful or needy toward your child. (Guess if that makes him behave better?)

While it’s true that meeting the needs of our children can take all of our time, there are always ways to create the sustenance of adult connection in our daily lives. Our deepest healing always comes from reconnection -- with ourselves, with nature, with spirit -- and with other people. Here's how.

1. Take a daily walk with a friend or your partner,

carrying little ones in a sling, pushing strollers, or letting kids kick a ball along the way. How about every evening at sunset?  Agree in advance to make this quality time by setting aside ten minutes for each of you to really listen to each other without taking anything that's said personally, or trying to solve anything. Just keep breathing deeply to "be" with your loved one, whatever he or she is saying, and say "I hear you."

2. Get yourself and your kids out of the house every day.

The job description of young children is to explore and take things apart to see how they work. That means that if you stay home with them, they'll tear your house apart. Be sure to get them outside daily, even if you can't get them out of pajamas. You won't have deep discussions with other adults with your kids in tow, but at least you can make small adult connections at the park or library or hardware store. Bring bubbles, balls, chalk, shovels -- whatever you can use at a nearby park to keep kids moving and breathing in the fresh air. The connection part? Call a friend! Or listen to an inspiring podcast or book, while pushing your kids on the swing.

3. Join or start a regular playgroup with like-minded parents so you can connect while little ones play.

Share some meals with each other or cook a dinner that everyone can take home and serve later. Cooking and clean up are much more fun with other adults, and you'll get some lovely connection time with each other while the children play. 

4. Find a "listening partner."

This idea, pioneered by the folks at, is that you make a standing date to connect, usually by phone, with another parent. This gives you a safe place and a nonjudgmental, non-problem-solving partner so you can take turns working through your own emotions. It's fine to "vent" but make sure to pause and welcome the tears and fears that are lurking behind the anger. Once you feel those more vulnerable emotions, they evaporate -- and so does the anger.

5. Get some time by yourself.

If you have a partner, trade off time so each of you has some time without being "on" for the kids. If you don't have a partner, find a friend or relative with whom you can trade times. Don't fritter away that time on social media; make a conscious choice to do something that replenishes you. Meet a friend for lunch. Play your guitar. Go for a run. Use the time to increase your inner resources.

6. Work Out.

Exercise is one of the best stress-busters. Whether it's yoga, spinning, or zumba, find a gym or class that offers childcare and sign yourself up for regular classes so you don't give in to the temptation to skip them. 

7. Hire a young mother’s helper

to play with your child every Friday evening so you and your partner can have a picnic dinner in the bedroom. Lock the door.

8. Let more love in.

It's true that relationships take work, but if you're in a relationship with a partner, it should also be a source of support for you. If some fault lines have surfaced, make working things out a priority. While it's true that some relationships are entrenched in patterns of negativity that are hard to break, it's also true that we take our baggage with us to the next partner, so it is always worth working on a relationship. Schedule an appointment for couples counseling, or get your hands on my audio series Happily Ever After: Conscious Co-Parenting.

9. If you work outside the home, make it a point to connect with your colleagues a bit.

It will make your work life more rewarding and can be a happy antidote to feeling like all you do is meet customer needs by day and children's needs at night.

10. Join an online forum

like the one that's part of my Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids Online Course. Getting support from other parents who aspire to conscious parenting can make all the difference in the world in how connected and supported you feel.

11. Prioritize love.

Every day, make sure that you have a juicy connection with another adult. Call a friend or sibling while you're doing housework. Write a letter of gratitude to someone who mentored you. Be sure your romantic partner knows how much love and appreciation you feel for them.

Anything that nurtures you and keeps your heart open gives you more love to share. As four wise men once said, "The love you take is equal to the love you make ... All you (really) need is love."


This is post #6 in our series on self care: The Secret of the Full Cup. 

The full series:

#1 - The Secret of the Full Cup: Self Care

#2- Ten Stress Busting Strategies for Parents

#3 - Five Ways To Nurture Yourself while Nurturing Your Child

#4 - Let's Get Physical: 20 Exercise Ideas for Parents and Kids

#5 - As Simple As Breathing

#6 - If You Don't Feed Your Hungry Heart, How Can You Feed Your Kids?

#7 - Five Steps to Get Re-Energized

#8 - Want to Feel More Alive? Take the Stone Out of Your Shoe

#9- How to Transform What's Draining You

#10- Give Yourself the Support You Need