Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. - Helen Keller
Being a single mom can be challenging. One way to make it easier, less stressful, and more fun? Building a tight-knit, reliable community.
So, just what does that mean exactly?
Your community is the network of people you surround yourself with - who celebrate the good times with you, and are right at your side through hard times.
Your community is made up of close friends, family members, casual acquaintances, and groups of people you share interests with.
And communities come in many shapes and sizes. You might have a large community of friends and family, and smaller, sub-communities of people with whom you share common interests.
Let’s take a look at how to make your community stronger and more effective.
Invest in Your Friendships
“Life is more fun when you do it with people you really love,” points out an article in the Huffington Post.
Not only is life more fun - but it’s better for you. In fact, friendships can improve your happiness, boost your health, reduce stress, improve your immune function, and even increase your life expectancy. Friendships are powerful things, and well worth investing your time and energy in.
Reinvest in old friendships; look for new friendships with colleagues, neighbors, or parents of your children’s friends; and give your friendships - both old and new - the time and energy they deserve.
Connect With Your Family
The unconditional love you give and receive from your family - even when you drive each other crazy - cannot be valued enough.
Whether you’re close with your biological family, have extended family you love dearly, or have a tight-knit circle of friends you consider your family - make those people a top priority in your daily life. Family are one of the most integral support networks in your community.
Notice Your Neighbors
Community isn’t simply built on deep friendships or family ties, community is also those small interactions you have with the checker at the grocery store, the elderly woman who lives next door, or the people you meet through your work.
An article in the Washington Post points out, “...a growing body of research is shedding light on the hidden benefits of casual acquaintances…”
Find Your Tribe
Not only is community made up of friendships, family, and casual acquaintances - but it’s also important to feel a sense of connectedness and belonging to a group.
Find groups with whom you identify and share interests with. Maybe it’s the knitting club that meets every Saturday morning. Maybe you join a single mom support group. Or maybe you find a sense of belonging at a church, synagogue, or other religious community.
Most importantly, don’t limit yourself. You can belong to many groups where you feel deeply connected. Let that sense of connection feed your sense of happiness and wellbeing.
Prioritize & Visualize
Investing time and energy into your friendships, connecting with your family, valuing the casual acquaintances in your life, and then finding those you share common interests and values with - all these elements will combine to enrich and strengthen your community.
“People with high levels of what psychologists call social integration - those who participate in a broad range of relationships that consist of both intimate and weak ties - tend to be healthier and happier,” says an article in the Washington Post.
Most importantly, prioritize and visualize what you want from your community. Community may not happen overnight, but by putting it first in your life, you’ll soon find that you’re surrounded by supportive people you love - who love you back.
Summary of Part II: In part two of this series will look at easy steps you can take to expand and strengthen your community.