I have lately been thinking about how important it is to me to have such a strong and supportive network or ‘tribe’ around me and my family, especially as we live what some would call quite an ‘alternative’ family lifestyle. My choices of being a stay-at-home-mum who is also self-employed from home, currently home educating my son and living a mostly ‘natural’ lifestyle, mean that building a like-minded network has made life so much easier and much more enjoyable. It helps me to feel in the flow with life, to embrace my values and visions and feel supported while doing so. After all if you consciously surround yourself and your children with like-minded, positive people, then the path you have chosen will unfold easily, as encouragement and opportunities will come your way. On the other hand if you are around people who constantly question you and your values you may question yourself and not actually be true to who you are. I’m sure we can all identify with this.
It doesn’t mean changing all your friends, but just putting yourself into new situations, or setting things up where you meet new people. This is what I have done since my son was born, both in the ‘real world’ and online and I would like to share these with you.
- Setting up a Parent & child Group – In 2011 when my son was almost 1 I met my good friend Clare Cooper. We were actually put in touch through the Mother Magazine, when I wrote to them to see if they knew of any natural parenting groups in our county (I live Cumbria, the same county as the editor of TM), they didn’t, but put me in touch with Clare who lived 5 mins away. We decided to set up a natural parenting group on our first meet, as both had thought about it and have been very close friends ever since, our children are very close too. Beautiful Beginnings has been running for over 2 years now and we have built up a small community of like-minded parents. I have found it such a supportive network and myself and my son love Thursdays when we can catch up with our friends. It’s great for our children to be part of a tribe of all different ages too. To find out more about Beautiful Beginnings read our website and blog here >>
- Setting up a co-working event – Last year in 2012, another work-from-home-mum friend Charlotte came up with the idea of setting up a Jelly event in our local town of Cockermouth. You might be thinking what is Jelly – it is a co-working event that started in NYC and has spread all around the world, you can find out more on the Jelly UK website or read my blog about it. I helped Charlotte to organise and set up Jelly and once a month we head down to our local and very accommodating coffee shop The Coffee Kitchen for a co-working event. Co-working is much friendlier than networking event as we all sit around a table, doing our work or chatting, popping in or out as we please. I have found it a great source of inspiration and helps me to bounce new ideas off other creative thinking people. I have also found many new projects and opportunities through attending and it’s not too time consuming as it’s only on for a few hours a month, so I can usually find a friend or family member to take care of my little man. Charlotte is also thinking about setting up a similar event but for mothers with children so that the children can come along too, which I think sounds fab!
- Family – I know not everyone has family around, but where we currently live, we are lucky to have them around to help occsionnally, although all the grandparents do still work, so it’s just when it can be fitted in. I bought my husband a night out at a comedy evening this weekend for his birthday and we went for a fab evening out, whilst our little man was with his Nain (welsh for grandma). We are happier with this now as he is 3 and is comfortable with it too so we have decided to have a date night each month, at least until the new one comes along in March! As I said many people don’t have parents or family around them, or actually may not feel comfortable leaving their children with family if they don’t support their parenting style (which is totally ok too). That’s why I think trying to be part of a like-minded group can help you so much too, after all we are all naturally meant to be in tribe and not struggling on our own.
- Online communities – I know networking online is not actually in the ‘real world’, but they are actually real people, with real ideas and I have had so much inspiration from networking online. It can make you feel supported on a more global level. That is exactly why I set up Parent Tribe magazine, I knew that one day we may not live here, as our dream is to live abroad, so had the idea of setting up a global network combining both of the things I have set up at home. I feel it will be easier to make new networks wherever I go now as there may be people I have met online that live nearby, or that I can ask for advice about their country.
I’m not saying everyone should do what I have done. Looking back I have been extremely blessed meeting the people I have and can’t actually believe what we have achieved, but I can honestly say each new project has evolved naturally through our combined ideas and visions. I am so thankful this has become my path and that my son has been involved and around every step of the way. I’m sure it is a great learning opportunity for him to see how to make his way in life, how to make new friends and that if you want to do something to and have an idea to go for it!
If anyone would like any advice about how to set up any of the groups I have mentioned themselves then please get in touch!