When I first talked to my doctor about how I was feeling, the first questions she asked were about how much support I had from friends and family. Half of one of my appointments was spent with her googling various playgroups in the area and making phone calls on my behalf; along with the referral for the psychologist, she handed me a highlighted printout of nearby groups and ordered me to try one out so I could get out and meet people. At each visit, my psychologist spends some time going on about the benefits of community for parents (“It takes a village,” etc., etc.), and in the book I’m currently reading, Heart to Heart Parenting, Robin Grille writes, “Isolation and social disconnection are possibly the greatest risk factors for PND.”
So sharing the parenting load is a good thing. I hear ya. It makes sense to me – this four-walls-two-kids-and-me thing feels incredibly unnatural, even for my introverted self. My question is how do you share the load, especially if you don’t have available grandparents/aunts/uncles/siblings around? “If your extended family is not available” Grille says, “gather other parents to yourself so together you can share the nurturing and entertaining of the children.” Right. Well now my question is, how is one supposed to go about “gathering” other parents to oneself for help and empathy? Is there a special trumpet that causes similarly community-starved parents to come running? Where do you get them from? How much do they cost?! The tips Grille gives are not super helpful. Yes, you can advertise or go along to an existing group, but what are the chances you’ll find someone you want to massage there (one of his suggestions for things to do with your new buddy is “Share baby massage sessions on the floor. Massage each other, too.”)?
Finding a new friend is hard, and finding a new parent friend is even harder, since you’re not only looking out for someone you like, but someone whose kid/s you like too. You may be having a lovely chat at a playgroup with a mum named Jenny only to discover that the screechy child who punched Moses earlier (TWICE) is her son. Or you love the mum AND her children, but they’re never free in the morning and your kids sleep late into the afternoon, so there’s no convenient time for you to actually hang out together. The playgroups I’ve been to have been in halls, and halls are echoey and loud, and trying to have a conversation with potential besties over the top of amplified kid noise is the worst. And advertising on a community noticeboard (another of Grille’s suggestions) for the type of person you can imagine being great friends with requires that person to actually look at a community noticeboard, and if you’re not the type of person who looks at a community noticeboard, what are the chances that they would be? SO MANY ISSUES.
What I need is an RSVP-type site for matchmaking parents and kids with other parents and kids; instead of finding people to date, you would find people to playdate, and there would be an assumption that things could turn out awkwardly and you’d never have to see each other again, or that things could go splendidly and you’d start hanging out all the time. Or a Tinder-type site except instead of meeting up with strangers for sex, you’d meet up with strangers for playdates. And massages. It could be called Kinder. You could tick boxes to let others know your parenting style (“I breastfeed my six-year-old!” or “We love smacking! Smackity smack smack!”), and others could find out more/avoid you depending on their own philosophies. I LIKE THIS IDEA MORE AS I KEEP WRITING. If I knew more about how to use the internet, I would totally make it happen. If you make it happen, can you please let me know? And also give me some credit/money? Kthanx.