One of the biggest challenges that a lot of DC area moms face, is that many of us are here away from our immediate family. Motherhood is hard, and surviving it away from family is even more difficult. Our city is a vibrant place for young people to come and build a career. I was 23 when I moved and immediately fell in love with everything. The energy, the culture, the architecture and that metropolitan life without the hustle of New York City. But then a couple of years later came motherhood.
The excitement, independence, and determination were a great help in making it somewhat easy to survive the first couple of years of our first born. I was a working mom, with a growing career, good daycare and a townhouse in the city. What else could I ask for, right? Every argument about living closer to grandparents was rationally dismissed by my then early motherhood innocence. I had friends with kids the age as mine, babysitter options, and a great neighborhood.
But it only takes a second for reality to hit. That first moment when your baby gets really sick, when you have a work trip and need someone to take over (for more than one child), someone to cook for you when you are sick or to simply give you a random day off. The list goes on, and only gets harder as the kids get older. So here are my five tips to minimize the pain:
Join a listserv
It might not be as obvious as one would think, but without listservs, I would have never survived. I was lucky to land on an amazing mommy listserv that shares knowledge about everything, from a diaper rash to the DC school lottery. I have on many occasions emailed in the middle of the night with crazy questions or issues and received great support and knowledge. So, ask around and find one from your neighborhood or whatever group you belong to. They are a great source of common knowledge and support. I am subscribed to many listservs, and it’s always easy to find information on nannies, activities, second-hand baby stuff, and more!
Get to know your neighbors
Think about the 1980s. Well, maybe what we see in tv and movies. Kids out in the street, neighbors gathering, yard parties and late summer days outside. If we look around our streets now that’s a rare scene. We have been blessed to live in a community where most of the neighbors have small children. This has made it easier to connect and build community. This is particularly important during emergencies, where we need over the counter medicine, emergency care, or someone to share a glass of wine. Earlier this year we had a round of hospital visits around flu season, and we would have never made it without the help and support from our neighbors.
Recruit at least two babysitters you can trust
Date nights as parents are a MUST! For the longest time we have neglected this aspect, but with the new year, our resolution was to go out at least once a month. Not having family nearby makes it an expensive resolution, but much needed to keep your sanity. Although we will take advantage of grandparents visiting, we still need a babysitter when they are not. Turns out babysitters are a hot commodity, so I recommend at least having two options you can trust and that your kids feel comfortable with. If you find a third one, then more power to you!
Create a WhatsApp group with fellow mommies
This is crucial for the first couple of months, where you have no sleep and so many questions. Google is a new parent’s worst nightmare. Seriously, STOP! My recommendation is to create a group of fellow mommies, from your yoga class, your birth class, anything. Even better if the babies are around the same age. Those late night feedings could come with any questions and frustrations that are better overcome if you have people to talk to.
And last but not least, subscribe to DC Area Moms Blog!
We are a growing community of local moms and we want to connect with you! We hope to make our city feel even more close-knit and help make motherhood feel more manageable. We appreciate you reading and look forward to meeting you at over the next few months!
Of course, none of these Survival Tips replace family, but it certainly makes surviving motherhood away from family easier.