Friday, June 25, 2010

Build Your Village

Blog readers might have notice we've been a little lately on posts. You know that shoulder surgery I told you about? Well it got worse, a lot worse. Post-op infection in my husband's newly repaired shoulder led to a second emergency surgery, then daily doctor's visits and a lot of craziness around the Folsom household. Add a potty training two year old and two 8 year olds enduring end-of-school year craziness that crossed into summer activities like swim team (thank you BlizzardS of 2009-10) and I've just about lost my mind.

But I didn't, and here's why. The Village stepped in. I talk a lot about building the village on our blog and that's because it is so very important, both on the personal front as well as the professional side of your life.

One of the most frequent questions I receive is "how do I build my village?" Sounds easy enough but when it comes right down to it, how do you actually make it happen? Inspired by a dear friend about to make a major move to a new state with school-aged children, I gathered tips from (who else?) my support network and am sharing them with you.

Part 1 are tips on how to build your personal support network. We'll get to the business side next!
  • Aim for 3 Back ups. Backups are people who can pick up your kid at school when they're sick and you're stuck at DIA with a thunderstorm delay for departure. They're people who will grab your kid off the bus stop if you're stuck on the Beltway and are not going to make it home on time. Get those permission slips done in advance and program all contact numbers in your cell phone (and your spouse's!). Volunteer to BE that person for your backups. And because your backups have their own families and drama, aim to have 3. The law of averages should work out in your favor.
  • Show up and Volunteer. We had a PTA member who moved midyear and on her daughter's first day of school she showed up at the PTA meeting that night and volunteered for one of the worst jobs: cookie dough fundraiser coordinator. Her reasoning? What better way to get to know all the folks in her kids' school than volunteering? She earned the admiration from the rest of the PTA members that night, the names of most of the students and parents, and who liked Rocky Road more than Chocolate Fudge.
  • Pay it Forward. Bring a sick neighbor some soup. Offer to carpool for your friend's older children when a new baby is born. Not that there's a scoreboard, but rack up points before you need them. Because one thing's for certain - you will.