When my son started school I was working long hours, in need of friends and suffering from immense school-gate FOMO. One day I will retell the full story of how Mummy Wine Club started. But for the purposes of this article you should know that, having been part of the formation of organisations from sports teams to tech startups, a small group of mums with nothing in common but the age of their kids remains my most successful endeavour.
Nescafé ran an interesting advert recently where a man spoke to a theatre full of people who, we discover are his social network of ‘friends’. As he asks them questions about their relationship with him, they move from standing to sitting - “sit down if you have never seen me cry”. At the end of the exercise there are just a few remaining and, given that it is a Nescafé ad, they all get together and drink coffee. This is the reality of our lives. However many people we are connected to, there are only a few that you would cross the world for. They are your besties, your urban family, your closed community.
Recent events have got me thinking how, during the course of my career, we have been encouraged to network. In fact, there is a whole category of events dedicated to this very purpose. Right now though, as you sit, most likely at home, having probably been longer than you can remember without having had a Pret sandwich, how would you feel about going to a networking event? Lots of people, about whom you know absolutely nothing, shaking your hand and invading your personal space, as you eat crisps out of shared bowls and exchange glossy business cards.
We have always been encouraged to expand our networks and have as many connections as possible, but these days, that seems like the wrong thing to do. Right now, you want to keep your closed network of people that you trust to wash their hands, your trust not to break the rules around social distancing and, most importantly, support you with childcare.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. These days, maybe a hamlet would be more appropriate!