Who else has had this experience? You find a park day or field trip for homeschoolers and get so excited. “Yay,” you tell your kids, “We’re going to meet some new friends who are also homeschooled!” The day of the event comes, you scramble out of your minivan, your kids actually dressed in real clothes and you’ve even put on makeup for the occasion. Walk over to the meeting area and no one even says hello to you or acknowledges your existence. You think, Ok maybe in a little while someone else will come. Your kiddos go play on their own and you sit there awkwardly, thinking about how you should have grabbed your book off the kitchen table. Maybe you decide to rip off the band-aid and just go say hi to someone. You’ll make small talk for a few minutes but have already known after 30 seconds that this Mom isn’t going to be your bestie anytime soon. Finally, you round up your kids and pack them into the van. They announce that no one played with them and they’ll never meet any friends who are homeschooled. Then without even consciously meaning to you wonder if this homeschooling thing will work out for your family.
This was our experience during the first year we started homeschooling. I felt like a lone wolf that longed for a pack. Not only were my kids craving friendships with other kids in their unique situation but it was really me that needed the solidarity of other Mom’s who were like us. I felt so far removed from some of the friends I had made when my oldest two were in public school. I was so done with hearing, “Wow, I could never homeschool,” day in and day out.
In our quest to find more families like us I ended up realizing that I was already blessed with my tribe.
Yes, I still wanted to meet new people, but I became extra grateful that the Universe had already given me all the support that I needed in a few amazing Mom’s that I met up with every week for a playgroup. We met years before any of us were even officially homeschooling, through a mom’s group that I joined when we first moved to Arizona. Over the years these ladies became more than just other moms I talked about curriculum with. They became my family, my tribe. Once I found my people I felt so much more secure in our decision to homeschool. We weren’t going through this huge life-changing experience as a single fish in a big pond anymore, we finally found our school.
Homeschooling can be such an isolating experience.
Many of us focus so much on our kids finding friends, but what about us Moms? Without like-minded women to talk to, homeschooling can quickly become borderline depressing. Finding where you fit in can be tougher than you’d think. At first, I thought it would be easy to make friends in the homeschooling community, we all have this huge part of our lives in common. While that does give us one big talking point it doesn’t equal instant friendship. For me, it was almost the same as meeting other parents while waiting outside the school building to pick up my kids when they were in public school. You’re all there for the same reason, maybe your kids even have the same teacher, but does that make you instant best friends? No, not so much.
Here’s my advice to you if you’re still searching for your tribe in the homeschooling community.
Don’t be afraid to get into those real, deep conversations quickly when you meet another homeschooling mom. Show others your vulnerability because most likely you’ll meet someone who may be feeling the same way but is scared to show it. Don’t pretend like you’re perfect and have it all put together because let’s be honest, everyone is flawed in some way. Let’s actually get to know each other instead of just chatting about which curriculum we are currently using. Yes, sometimes we need that advice also but if that’s all you talk about then how will you really get to know each other. We can get so consumed with our kids that we forget to make time for ourselves and our friendships. Be sure to go out, drink some wine, and laugh your heart out as often as you can. But don’t forget to be yourself and that it’s OK to not talk about homeschool for a little while!
You all deserve an amazing tribe of friends that you can go to not only in joyful moments but also when you’re so fed up you’re in tears. I wouldn’t be where I am today without some incredible guidance, reassurance, and many shared tears between my Mamas. It has been so gratifying to watch our friendships grow right along with our kiddos. For some of you, that tribe may be online, and those friendships aren’t ones to discount, they can be very real too. I hope you find your tribe- those who make your soul feel at ease, who you can be unapologetically yourself with. Go and find your own kind of weirdo, we all need those friends in our lives.