Belated Community Valentine

I get asked a lot of questions about a lot of stuff, but in the top 10 is always: How do you get so much stuff done? Here’s my secret: I don’t do it all by myself.

If you didn’t catch it, both my husband and I are home all day. Which means two parents for two kids. Two adults for all meals. Two peeps for the indoor and the outdoor chores. Two supervisors/motivators/entertainers/beggars on our family walks.

My sister and brother in law live down the road and they often take my son for a couple hours to play with her 4 kids. Each of these children take turns teaching (and loving) our wee ones. My mom will come over and play and hold the baby for hours. She’ll also take home my carcasses and deliver some sweet bone broth in mason jars. She’s magical!

There are our program graduates who help with projects and answer emails for me. And I always get great emails with links to cool stuff sent from readers. I often post these contributions on our Facebook page with my thoughts and sometimes they’ll inspire a blog post. I’ve got thousands of muses!

So while it seems like I’m doing a lot of stuff, keep in mind that you’re seeing the work of a community — not one woman. I’m human. And I need to eat and sleep just like you do. Only I’ve been told that I eat (4,000 kcal) and sleep (8-9 hours) more than you probably do. But still, I’m just a regular person over here. A regular person who wants to send a Valentine to everyone in my community, which includes you.

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Which reminds me of a nice conversation I had with a friend’s mother while I was on the road. She couldn’t believe how much her daughter had reverted to doing things her grandmother had to do — grow her own food. And mill her own whatever.  And create everything from scratch. How could this leave her daughter with any time for her to do other things she wanted to do?

It was an interesting perspective for sure. Pursuing this “natural” lifestyle, in terms of diet and movement and parenting for example, can be exhausting. One of the defining characteristics of society — a group of people that no longer moves around, but is based in one location and growing enough food to feed everyone — is free time. Time to create music and great works of art. Time to explore thoughts and philosophies and to come up with inventions that then create even more time to *create*.

Are these creations bad? How could they be? They are beautiful. What the science of this “natural” movement presents (or should present) is that time spent on biological non-essentials come with a biological tax. The less time we spend on biological essentials, the more our physical body can be out of sync with nature. The more out of sync with nature, the more illness we experience. Restoring some of our movement and diet habits to reflect those of previous generations takes a ton of work,  but it aligns us better, biologically speaking.

This woman’s mother hit a nail on the head, though. In more natural-living times, it was not one person’s responsibility to do everything. People needed to walk great distances (and still do, in some places) carrying their kids. But ONE woman is not responsible for carrying this child miles and miles. This burden is shared by others who are child-free at that moment. One woman does not bear the responsibility of menu planning, food gathering and food preparation. Rather this burden is shared by multiple families, and multiple generations within a group.

I tease this out because perhaps we are missing one of the greatest variables in the natural/paleo movement: community.

If we are moving toward “natural” for our health, then let us not miss that it is, perhaps, chronic stress that is the greatest modern habit that needs addressing. You can change your diet and your exercise programming pretty easily and in a way that is clear to measure. Chronic stress is more sneaky. I’d just like to point out that the “I can do it all myself!” perspective is decidedly less natural one that recognizes that all-day contribution is necessary, even in very small children and older persons. Everyone plays a part.

I am, for sure, not a Wonder Woman. If you’re feeling like you might be a Wonder-Person, consider this suggestion: Recruit a “Paleo Peeps” group — that includes men, women and children. Meet once a month or better yet, once a week.

See if there is someone that loves making bone broth and wants to do it in bulk quantity for everyone. Same goes for shelling and soaking nuts, making flours, seed/nut milks, etc.

1. Is there a hunter who wants to share meat? Maybe there’s a paleo-lovin’ gradma who isn’t such a hot shot with her bow and arrow, but who would LOVE to come hold and exercise your baby for an hour while you go collect eggs or take a nap. You can trade her a flank steak.

2. This summer, a few local families here have planned on sharing dinner with each other FOUR nights a week. We eat outdoors and the kids get a chance to play hard with children of all ages (another aspect modern H-G living) of who are not their siblings. Bonus: We’re off the cooking clock for 3 nights of the week. I’d do this 7 nights a week but I don’t have that many friends. *sniff* It’s true.

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(Remind me to post about the sense-training game we are playing here.)

3. Is your kid tired of walking with you on the same route? Take your walks in a herd. Plan large group walks, where there are lots of happy adults and excited, screaming kids. Trying to get one or two kids to walk to the post office while you check your email on your iPhone is a huge effort. And, P.S., that last statement was directed at me. <—guilty.

The moral of this story is, community is just as important and necessary to natural living as aligned walking is to circulation. Don’t skip on this one. If you’re feeling alone and isolated in your new endeavors, just start inviting people over to your amazing meals and kick-ass obstacle course you’re building out back. Or let them hang from your indoor monkey bars. The message is out there and it’s spreading, faster than you know.

Who wants to come over for dinner next week?

xo,
KAB

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15 thoughts on “Belated Community Valentine

  1. this post is so a propos for me right now. it’s the reason i won’t have a second child! (sadly). i’m so glad someone finally put it into words (that are not inside my head). heheh. happy valentines day to you too KB!! (KB, sounds like katy, only with a speech impediment)

  2. This reminds me of a discussion I had with my mother in law. As a stay at home mother I struggle a lot. While my husband is home in the mornings and evenings I am home with an almost two year old and a three and a half year old (while carrying number three) trying to do things on my own. My in laws spend time with the kids on most weekends, but that is dependent on their schedules. My mother was a single mother at 19 but did not struggle as much. My mother in law stayed home when her kids were young and doesn’t remember struggling as much as I do, despite the fact that my father in law worked longer hours and often had to travel for his job. The difference is both women had a community of friends and family to help on a daily basis. While I am working to build such a community I am eternally grateful for all the work that other communities, such as the one that helps you keep the rest of us so well informed, that contribute to our little family from afar. Even if my husband calls you all my imaginary friends.

  3. Wow, while I love reading your blog all the time, this post came extremely timely for me – I just had to decide whether I go back to work (or not) after the birth of my 1st child, and I just sent my notice a few hours ago. The main reason being that commuting a long way to work is bad enough when you are an independent adult, but this sort of life doesn’t leave much chance to build a family, let alone a wider community one can depend on. So I decided to quit my current job. I figured a new job is easier to find than a new family! Thanks for putting this feeling I had about this decision in words, reading this post has helped me to feel better about it 🙂

  4. Was this a letter directly to me? 🙂 thanks. And P.S. I’ve been trying, for sure. Ready to start a fresh campaign with new energy, now.

  5. This is such a great post! I’ve thought of this many times. I live far away from my family and I don’t really have a lot of “community”. And I live a very natural lifestyle, homeschool, have very small children and am pregnant. And I wonder why I have so much trouble being productive and why I never have time for the art and music that I love so much. It has occurred to me that we were not made to be isolated and to “get everything done”. We’re made to work together.

  6. The birth of my second child is just weeks away and I’ve been wondering how I am going to get anything done. A very timely post. I’ll be trying to recruit more help, not stressing as much when I can’t get anything done, and trying to prioritize more. Something things (even “natural” things) are just going to have a to sit by the wayside for a while, at least until I can find someone else to do them…. 🙂

  7. As usual, perfect timing – it seems that like minded people are in tune with each other wherever we are in the world. I just spent a lot of this past weekend at a sustainable living festival which has prompted me to become serious about making a move into a co-housing project. Community rocks.

  8. I love this blog!! Thank you for pointing this out, I would love to have a community to help out and to have to help out, however the area I live in is very strange, everyone is spread out and myself and my husband have had a very hard time making any sort of connections with other parents, families and people in general, no one wants to be bothered and and no one bothers…its very strange and very wrong for the natural lifestyle we strive for….a move may be in the cards……..Thank you Katy your blogs are amazing!!! <3

  9. I’ve been an ‘isolated’ mom of three by choice. The stars haven’t aligned for me to find ‘that’ community. If it’s not poor discipline of their own children, it’s ignorant choices concerning nutrition. I keep looking and hoping, but in the mean time, my kids are trilingual, well-adjusted, gregarious, good listeners, and have that joie de vivre! Great post. Made me not feel so isolated.

  10. while not a parent, I identify with sybil_disobedience (btw this is an awesome handle) and christine. finding a community of like minded individuals is easier said than done, especially for people who chose to not bear children. and then there is the situation I’ve experienced a few times in my life, rejection from the tribe with no explanation given.

  11. Whew, I have wanted community for a long time. I am not adept at building one though. Such an isolationist that it pushes way outside of my comfort zone to do something like that. But I started a small step by moving closer to family so that I do get the help we need for just basic living and working. If only my loving world-wide community was a little more accessible in the daily life stuff! 🙂

  12. Yes, this is what I am missing! Community! The stress of trying to do it all and be it all by myself has certainly taken a toll on my poor little old body. Anyone reading this live near Pittsburgh??? Want a new friend?? Anyone?
    Thank you for the reminder that I can’t be it all and do it all. I will try to stop trying!

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