BELONGING

It Takes a Village: Parenting with a Neighborhood

By

Erika Riley

– VOL. 11

There’s a reason the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” has stayed around so long – because it rings true for so many. Two years after Covid, that need for the village hasn’t diminished, even as parents have faced unbelievable challenges. With school closings, remote work and social distancing becoming everyday headaches, some working parents have been able to rely on the support of friends, families, and neighbors.

For many parents, however, lockdowns meant more together time than ever as a family, but also less support. Managing the delicate (some might say impossible) balancing act of working from home in addition to getting kids set up on their virtual learning platforms, families with younger children suddenly had to do without daycare, family members’ help, or the relief of playdates.

This spring, many parents are feeling the relief of returning to normalcy after the surge, cautiously optimistic even as they accept that the only constant is change. One such parent is Imani Lewis, a Venn Neighbor in Midtown, Kansas City. Lewis started the “Mommy & Crew” group on the Life at Venn App to meet other parents in the neighborhood.

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Come spring in Kansas City, family activities relocate the lawns along Armour Boulevard where kids and parents gather for ice cream socials.

Imani had her son in 2019, just a few months into the pandemic. As a new mom, lockdown was isolating. She didn’t feel safe going to many places or seeing many people with such a young child. With Mommy & Crew, however, she’s got the support system of a group of parents who get together once a month. Everyone brings their kids to play together or watch movies.

Now that she and her family are vaccinated and her son is old enough to wear a mask, Imani is more comfortable getting back out there. But turning to the social interactions she had before having a child has proven to be a challenge.

“I feel like being a parent … you tend to lose the fun activities that you normally have. When everybody else around you doesn’t have children, it’s like, well I can’t always hang out with them or I can’t always be involved,” Imani explains. 

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In Kansas City, a recent morning coffee meet and greet appealed to parents and littles. All it took was some sprinkled donuts and chalk art.

Not long after she had her son, Lewis moved to her current apartment in Midtown, serviced by Mac + Venn. She decided to use the Life at Venn App to meet Neighbors in her area. She liked the idea of getting to know other parents in the neighborhood, but wasn’t open to knocking on people’s doors to introduce herself. 

“I would have hated to move somewhere where I don’t know anybody, so I feel like the Venn app really helped with that,” Imani says.

Since starting the group, Lewis has been able to connect more meaningfully with a few of her neighbors, including one mom whose child was born within a few days of her own. “It’s a really comfortable setting,” Imani says about the app. “It’s just really comfortable.”

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Pool parties in the summer are the perfect excuse for staying up past bedtime. What are weekends for afterall?

In addition to being a mother, Imani also works and attends school, which makes it difficult for her to spend much time getting to know other people or dedicating lots of time to social commitments. Once a month get-togethers, plus the occasional game night or one-on-one hang-out, have been a perfect addition to her life in the neighborhood. 

In the future, Imani plans on getting the group together for day trips to places like Legoland or Crown Center. She wants to ensure all parents are involved in picking a destination or activity that both parents and kids can enjoy together. “It’s good for parents to have a platform where they can do different things but still have fun. And be around people their age.” Imani adds.

Interested in starting your own parenting group in your neighborhood? Connect with your Neighborhood Manager for everything you need–from the perfect space to getting in touch with other parents. After all, it takes a village. And you already have a village with Venn.