My kids run out the door, and after a quick peek I know that I can keep on prepping dinner. When I run out of Tylenol at night, I know I’ve got some just a quick phone call away.
I’m raising my kids in an incredible village – and it’s amazing.
Why Raising Kids in a Village is Amazing
Finding a space like this is rare in the world. But it’s something you find on every single military base around the world.
No, our housing situation might not be amazing. But the neighbors truly do make up for what’s lacking.
Built-In Parent Friends
Parenting, especially when you are often doing things solo, is a rough journey. Military housing and military communities offer a support system – built right in.
No matter where you are on the parenting journey, there is a neighbor going through something similar.
When I was first pregnant, I lived off-base. I didn’t know my neighbors and only had my colleagues at school for support. Even the unit wasn’t supportive since it was an unorthodox structure.
I had almost no one to talk to about pregnancy, birth or what life is like with a newborn. It was lonely.
Contrast that to my second pregnancy, when we lived on base. My friend across the parking lot had a kid the same age as my oldest. My neighbor right next door had just had a baby six months earlier. And someone down the block was a pediatric nurse.
All my worries, problems and even medical questions were instantly answered. Everyone I needed was right there, in my on base community.
Immediate Friends for Kids
My kids have never known what it’s like to be the new kid because they have spent most of their (admittedly short) lives living on military bases. They were never the new kid because everyone was the new kid, at the same time.
My daughter’s best friends moved into their houses at exactly the same time we did. They were all new together.
By the end of week one, they were roaming our cul de sac as a tiny three-year-old mob.
They learned to ride bikes the exact same day, collected bugs and generally ruled the community playground.
Immediate friends were plentiful in my little village.
Collective Parenting at Its Finest
When I moved into my last neighborhood on base, all of the parents seemed to share a collective parenting strategy. The consequence for one kid that stepped out of line was the same for everyone.
It was never really ever talked about, but it happened nonetheless.
Perhaps at some point, we had some informal chats about stuff or talked things through in the moment. But mostly, one parent spoke up and the rest of us followed along.
It’s also what made it easy to give my kids a lot more freedom.
They were able to run outside to play because I knew another parent would watch them while I wrapped up dinner or finished a few chores. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a situation where my kids were running amuck 100% of the time without me.
No, we swapped our duties so that everyone operated more efficiently. I would come out once I had my inside things under control so that another parent could pop into their house for a bit. We rotated supervision.
That’s not something I’ve ever experienced before. Having that type of a community, the kind where you feel comfortable giving freedom to your children and still getting all the things done, is so freeing.
We Need More Villages for Our Kids
In the modern era, we seem to have moved away from neighborhoods like this. We don’t see kids outside playing after school. Instead, everyone is inside because parents have stuff to do, kids have homework and someone needs to be supervising every single second.
Living in a village with that unspoken community parenting agreement made it easier for my family to thrive. And we need that again in America.
Kids should play outside, parents should share the burden and everyone should support each other. This is just life on military bases around the world. But it needs to make a revival in cul de sacs and neighborhoods off base, too.
Our nation would be better for living together, sharing joys and responsibilities more freely. It would certainly make getting dinner on the table and keeping kids occupied safely a little easier!