We used to live in villages with tribes of women to lean on, but we no longer have that and modern mothers are missing out. A recent study* shows up to 90% of mothers feel lonely and isolated, but thanks to organisations like Mama Tribe and its co-founder Nikki McCahon, it doesn’t have to be that way!
In May 2017, together with her close friend Haley, Nikki co-found Mama Tribe – an online community of over 20,000 mums, facilitating thousands of meet ups in over 50 locations across Australia and New Zealand.
Starting Mama Tribe has definitely been one of the most exciting accomplishments. As a new mum I found myself very lonely for a very long time. I kept it to myself and was a bit embarrassed – who likes saying ‘I have no friends’?.
Then one day, with my friend Haley, we worked up the courage to say ‘I’m lonely’ and then all of the sudden all of these other mums were joining saying ‘ME TOO’. It took courage to put ourselves out there, but through honesty we all connected and now we have this incredible community of mums who are lifting each other up and supporting each other.
Nikki lives on the Gold Coast with her husband Darren and one year old son Arley. She moved to the Gold Coast not long before the birth of her son and without family and friends near by felt extremely isolated.
Having experienced loneliness and isolation herself, Nikki has become passionate about supporting other mums and ensuring mums have strong support networks. “So many mums are missing the sense of community and the ‘village approach’ to parenting and without us really acknowledging it publicly it is affecting our experience of motherhood – and children are not having the chance to grow up surrounded by a community of other adults and children, which can be really important for their well-being”.
Mothering was never meant to be a solo gig, but as modern mothers that’s what parenting has become. I feel that because of this lack of community support, there’s a lot of extra pressure and stress on mothers (and parents) to take care of everything themselves – and that is hard.
Haley and I created Mama Tribe to fulfill our own need to connect with local mums and build stronger support networks for ourselves, but early on it became evident that so many mums were craving connection too. We didn’t set out to create a community as widespread as Mama Tribe has become, but I think the need was there and it has naturally evolved.
As for what’s next for Mama Tribe, we’re focused on supporting as many mums as we can and letting Mama Tribe continue to grow and evolve. We’re extremely excited about 2018 and how we can create new ways to support and connect mums and link them to resources and information that can help them in their journey as mums – but also as women. I know for myself and many mums i know, mum life is all consuming and it’s important to reconnect to who we are when we’re not being mum as well.
As for what’s next for me personally, and what I want to be remembered for, it comes down to the simple things in life – “being a loving mother and wife, a good friend and kind and honest person”
I’m also looking forward to (and slightly nervous about) hopefully having another baby in the next few years. Part of me is nervous a because I know how much I struggled with the lack of support last time, but I remind myself that I have built new support networks and friends through Mama Tribe and the experience will be different. I know that if I need help, it’s there for me.
As for my biggest worry for the world, particularly as a mother, I worry that with the rise of social media and decline of face to face connection people are slowly losing their ability to empathise with other human beings, showing compassion, kindness and understanding. If we lose that, what do we have left?
Mama Tribe is something that I know helps instill compassion, kindness and understanding for mums and I’m very excited to watch that grow and evolve. I really believe we can create a modern village for mums, where they can instantly access a community of mums and support wherever they are.
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