Just Ask the Wemmick Question of the Month:
I'm looking for wisdom in maintaining friendships for myself while homeschooling. What kind of schedule have other women found works best for them and their families? Over the past few years, I've found my friendships with other women to be dwindling, and I've been getting lonely. But with homeschooling during the day, napping babes in the afternoon, and trying to have family time with daddy in the evening, I'm just not sure how to fit my friends into our schedule. We're in a bimonthly co-op and attend church, but now I feel like I have tons of happy acquaintances and no close friendships. Any ideas for solutions? Take more days off from schooling to be with other families? Take more evenings off to be with my friends or with other families? Get together on weekends? Invite people over in the evenings? What about my old friends who send their children to a school who prefer to get together during the day? How do others balance family time with outside friends time. I've been praying about this for a year, but I’m also introverted and initiating invites doesn’t come natural. What do you do?Proverbs 18:24 immediately comes to mind when I hear people say they are introverted and balk at initiating invites. As uncomfortable as it may seem, it is usually the lonely, introverted person who must make the connections somehow. One way to get out of one's shell is to consider how to be a blessing to others who also may be lonely and introverted. Possibly there are other home educators, but even those who send their children to public or private school, who are experiencing the very same dilemma you are. The secret is to find them and connect.
A Hymn Sing Gathering
During the heyday of homeschooling our four children, we participated in a bi-monthly co-op. It was through an acquaintance I met there that we found out about a monthly hymn sing event in our area. Believers from different churches, most of whom were also homeschooling, met for a potluck dinner and singing of hymns. The leader encouraged each family to recite the Scripture passages they were learning together in family worship and allowed the children and adults to showcase their talents in playing instruments.
You might ask around among your homeschool acquaintances to see if there is such a gathering in your area. If not, you might see if anyone would be interested in hosting one. Another option would be to invite just one family at a time -- or more if you have room -- to your own home for fellowship and singing. Make it a potluck dinner on a Saturday night and rotate families. Perhaps as you get to know them better, you will inevitably make those close friendships you long for.
Family Camps and Conferences
If you've read this blog for very long, you will not be surprised I should suggest family camps for building friendships. A family camp can be an excellent venue for meeting other families of like faith and practice. As you attend from year to year, your friendships with others who attend often develop into deep, lifelong relationships, some of which may develop into marriages between your children.
Bible and homeschool conferences do not usually afford the same leisure time as family camps for getting to know others on a more intimate level. However, our family became lifelong friends with another family who were vendors at our homeschool conference. They offered materials which were in agreement with our beliefs, so we struck up a conversation. Though they moved to Florida and we to Michigan, we still talk by telephone on a regular basis and that one conversation has led to many, many others over the years through thick and thin.
From Facebook to Face Time
Social media has its good points and its bad points. But, for a lonely homeschool mother, a caregiver of a shut in, and even shut ins themselves, it can be a lifeline for developing deep friendships. Some would argue it is not real relationships, but I beg to differ. I have met some wonderful people on Facebook whom I have never met, but I sure would love to!
If you find friends through Facebook who are in your own area, ask if they would like to meet for a play date at a local park or go for coffee at a local shop. If you both have smaller children, you might meet at a fast food place which has a play area. The moms could talk over while the children are within watching distance.
Sharing Church Events
Perhaps some folks will frown on this idea, but it has certainly helped me. You might consider involving yourself in fellowship with other women in larger, more active churches. Our church is very, very small, and many of the folks in it are either too busy or too disinterested to invest in fellowship which leads to deeper friendships. However, a larger church in town of like faith and practice has a monthly ladies' sewing circle which we have been blessed to attend. Though I cannot say I have developed any DEEP friendships through this group, it has definitely met my need for meaningful connections outside of the home.
As you can see, the many ways in which I have found friendship and fellowship over the years have been a direct result of making connections with others who were also in need. Ask around, get involved, and open your heart and home to others. Eventually, you will find what you are seeking and may even end up being a blessing to others as well.
And, here are a few other posts regarding this question of finding meaningful friendships from some friends I've met on the internet: :)