by Meghan Fitzgerald
Moms are usually juggling a lot at once, and every once in a while they drop the ball. Unfortunately, that “ball” is usually taking the time for a little self care. Self care means something different for every mama — from taking the time to drink a cup of coffee while it’s still hot to planning a getaway without the kids — but one of the most important forms of self care we have is each other.
We’re talking about building community. Communities provide us with a sense of belonging, and that feeling of belonging has a direct impact on our health and happiness writes CNN. For this very reason, one of Tinkergarten’s goals for the classes is to help foster communities where children can play and where parents and caregivers can find friendship from like-minded families.
“The transition into motherhood is such a vulnerable time for women, and there’s also so much vulnerability that we as mothers experience daily, to be surrounded by a community that understands that intimately is really powerful,” Justine Nobbe of Adventure Mamas Initiative (AMI) so eloquently shared with us. And she is spot on.
AMI is a non-profit founded by Nobbe and her long-time friend Stephanie Feller, and its main purpose is to create a community of women that encourage and support one another to get outdoors for their own good. (Getting outside for some Mother Nature healing is another great form of self care.) We had the pleasure to talk to Nobbe about the importance of community, self care and adventuring — and we ended our chat inspired. Take five minutes, with a warm beverage in hand, and practice a little self care right now just reading what this wise mama had to say.
Early into Tinkergarten, the team learned that fostering strong communities not only helps kids learn, but they’re an important part of taking care of yourself as a mom. What do you feel are the benefits of building community?
Just like kids need their friends, moms so totally need the same thing. Community is everything. We need one another. We need to be surrounded by people who affirm our unique values and help us enjoy our lives. It’s all about creating alliances with people around us because they can help us realize our own dreams and manifest our goals.
What are the AMI communities like, and how are they built and fostered?
The AMI community is really dynamic. In our community you see a lot of people using social media at its very best, using it to implement positive change and authentic relationships and to transcend the keyboard to build really beautiful, strong communities.
We have a regional structure in North America with 15 groups across the US and Canada where women can connect with other women within their region. It’s grassroots lead, which means we encourage women to step up and become local leaders within their community. You don’t need to have a title to bring women together, you just need to have passion and initiative — and a drive to be that connecting force.
What do you think mamas gain from embracing adventure and spending time outdoors together?
For the women in the AMI community, adventure is our version of self care. We know that’s kind of a novel concept, so I think the biggest thing women stand to gain in participating in adventure-based activities is that sense of wellness. Because they’re doing something good for themselves.
I also think leadership, critical thinking, efficacy and strength, all of those things that we demonstrate and build when we’re doing those challenging activities can be actually be brought back into the home and into your everyday life
Self care is an important tenet of AMI, and it’s something we’re focusing on for our Tinkergarten parents as well as for ourselves. And as a mother living an intentional life, I know how crucial taking the time for yourself is, but it doesn’t always make its way into my daily life. What does self care as a mama look like for you?
Self care looks different from day to day and I’m okay with that. It really ebbs and flows. Some days I feel like I can’t catch a break, and some days opportunities present itself and I’m able to sneak away to have a long climbing session.
I think it’s about finding — and jumping on — those little opportunities that present itself. Maybe it’s taking that first 30 minutes of nap time and saying, “I’m not going to start doing the laundry, I’m going to have a hot cup of coffee and I’m literally just going to sit here and drink it and enjoy myself.” I feel like that’s what my self care is a lot of the time. Or it might be having a couple minutes as the sun set and taking a little walk around the block.
What do you think are some of the challenges for mamas in terms of self care? And how do you recommend overcoming that?
It’s everything from mommy guilt to some societal expectations of what it means to be a mom or a caregiver. I think those are the two big things. You feel guilty leaving your kid at home (if your self care is getting outdoors), but everything comes back to community. You need to surround yourself with the community that affirms your need to be outside, or to engage in self care in whatever fashion it looks like for you.
Now, it’s time to take action! Look for experiences to connect more with the parent community near you -- whether it’s a formal group experience, a coffee date with a friend or a hike with a few friends and their kids. If you’re lucky enough to already have a strong foundation for community in your life, try to reach out to someone who looks like they could use a little support and connect with them. We’re ever so grateful for our virtual Tinkergarten community and their support, and we invite you all to be a part of it!