You know, the story goes that 'if only we still had the old fashioned village' - where the neighbour could mind the baby, where people regularly caught up and shared, transport etc you know the deal - oh if only we had that life would be so much easier. How our cities and towns aren't really set up for that now - rarely do you know many people who live within walking distance of you, ditto for school, shops and the 'basics' that we use each week... let alone know or actually like your neighbours... there's plenty of people you like but none of them live close, but you want to 'Village'...
So I had that in mind. How could we get that village happening when the 'structural' side of things was so different? I was also thinking, why do we wait until our friend's Father dies, before we all pitch in together? Why does it take a tragedy or a massive life event (new baby, perhaps) before we offer a little bit of relief to each other?
So then I thought - well so what? So what if we don't all live within walking distance of each other. We might not have those conveniences but we have others and we all have unmet needs or things that we find challenging. Things that would be so blissful if someone else could help us out and us, them in return.
So the deal is this. Do something that helps out someone else, without it increasing your workload unrealistically. So if you are already at home with your children, then it's not too much out of your week to mind someone else's children as well. But it would be not in keeping with the theme of The Village, for example, to turn down much needed work when your own Family is short of money, in order to pick up a litre of milk for a friend. See? It has to be a good balance but it doesn't need to balance on the scales. Minding one person's child might not seem the equivalent of cleaning their kitchen, but when you haven't slept for 4 nights or you've hurt your back and can't clean, it might very well seem like gold! You don't need to spend money (though you can if you want/are able to) to do this - it's really about giving of yourself - your time, talents or produce. You don't need to keep tabs on who does what if you're happy not to. I think eventually the world sorts it out anyway but that's just me.
So a friend who dislikes baking - you might make up some muffins or cook them dinner, and they in return who are already doing the school run (where it's hard for you because the baby sleeps) might bring your children home twice a week. That kinda thing. Use our 'modern village'. Maybe you might like to do something for someone and just leave a note 'From your Village'. I guess it's like a pay-it-forward but not just a once-off - it could be done as a surprise but it could be done as a discussion - what unmet needs do you have that I can help with, and vice versa... A way that everyone can work within their limits, to make a regular difference to someone else.
It's not by any means a new idea, far from it. But I think if we don't take the time to consciously do something about it, and participate, the busy weeks fly past and just keep flying past.
What can you do to strengthen your Village? Who's week can you make a difference to?... even if for you it's tiny, to them it might be huge. I guess it's just being more conscious and looking to find ways to bring back 'The Village' in this 'modern' world.