Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Country? or Neighborhood? That is the question.

Question: How is being a stay-at-home mom in the country? My hubs loves the country life... My fear is that if we live in the country and have little ones, I will feel isolated and lonely. Thoughts?

It really was ironic that you asked this question when you did. If you would have heard the conversations Jason and I had a couple weeks ago you would have laughed. I was feeling quit lonely on this ol country road and my advice would have been pretty negative.  

To be honest with you when you have little ones and choose to stay at home, regardless of where you live, I think the lonely feelings are inevitable. It's part of adjusting to life on the job with people to life home with little people.  I think stay at home moms have to be VERY intentional about warding off lonely feelings.  It's sort of hilarious when you think about it . . . you are NEVER alone when your kids are little so how can we feel lonely?  I think in those years you have to be intentional to plug into things in your area; whether that be a bible study, a play group, a MOPS group, a group at the library or something. You have to fight through the "getting out of the door" stress so that you can experience connecting with other moms who are in your shoes. In many ways you are finding or creating new "co-workers". It makes all the difference. Obviously, all of our personalities are different so we all need different amounts of "people time" but I think all of us need it to a certain extent.

To address the country versus neighborhood part of the question . . . let me say I have lived in three locations with my little kids. One was a neighborhood but we were the only ones with kids and the only ones outside. We played in our big backyard most of the time. Another was a neighborhood with 3.5 kids in every house and we were always outside connecting with families. Now we are in the country with neighbors 1/2 mile away. All had/have there pros and cons.  We have found that even in a neighborhood it is very rare to live on a street where people all interact and "play" together. We've experienced both. You might not have kids your kids age on your street - you don't always know those things when you buy a home.

I think there are pros and cons to country life when it comes to stay at home moms. 
I do think it can increase the chance of feeling isolated but it can also be a place that gives you the space to really create a great place to invite others over to join in on your days.  I think when it all comes down to it, people that want to build relationships will. You just have to be a little more proactive in it in the country.  I really miss being able to walk outside and connect instantly with moms or on a whim throw together lunch for whoever is around. I made it through many of the dreaded "before dinner hours" by visiting with other moms who were tired from the day and had cranky kids too. We'd just hang together outside until daddies started to drive up in the driveways and rescue us. :)) However, I think that is is very rare and not the norm for that to happen in neighborhoods.  Neighborhoods can be extremely lonely too. You see people but you don't "know" them. Or you do get to know them and you really don't connect but you have no choice not to be around them. A pro to country life is you typically have the space to do some really fun things.  Include others when you do those fun things and you'll feel like you are living in a neighborhood.  I think the job of your husband can play a role in all this too - does he work weekends? late nights? etc.  There really are pros and cons to both locations.

I think if I could create the perfect place, I'd live in between. I'd have a house with a little more property to give us the space but would have a cluster of homes all around that too. Close enough so we could all BBQ and run in and out of houses but not so close that we could over hear the conversations in each back yard. Of course in dream world the people that lived in those homes would be people we'd love to interact and play with. I can dream can't I?

I don't know if I really answered this . . . I sort of rambled a bunch of my thoughts.  Reminds me of the children's book -- City Mouse, Country Mouse. If I know you Heidi, you will thrive in the country or a neighborhood. You strike me as one that makes relationships a priority and so it will happen.  You'll be intentional and you just might find that having your "space" out in the country will rejuvenate you to be around people more. 
Anyone else have any advice on this?? I know some of you long time country moms could give some great advice!! I could use some advice on it too.  It's always great to get different perspectives.  Which do you prefer . . . country life? neighborhood life?


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