Visionary Womanhood recently launched a new series called “Just ask the Wemmicks!” to address reader questions. If you don’t know what a Wemmick is, you can check that out here. For now, suffice it to say that YOU are a Wemmick–and so am I.
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?
The homeschooling years are a busy season of life and it can be hard to find a lot of time for outside friendships. It has been important to me to maintain a few close friendships, but I have had to prioritize the most important relationships and allow others to fade. Here are some of my strategies:
1) The relationships I prioritize are ones that are “as iron sharpens iron”. For over twenty years I have been investing time in relationships that yield a spiritual return, and those friendships have had a great impact on who I have become as a Christian woman. I don’t have time to invest heavily in friendships that are based only on having children of the same age or sharing a mutual hobby. My limited friend time needs to be focused on women who will help me grow in Christ and whom I can also hopefully challenge and encourage. I tend to look around me and find those women who are on fire for the Lord and who share similar convictions to me, and spend my time and efforts there. To make a friend you need to be a friend, so you’ll probably need to overcome those introverted tendencies and initiate an invitation or through acts of service.
2) “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” Our family tries to observe a true Sabbath rest on Sundays, setting aside that day for worship and also for fellowship with the saints. As often as possible we try to share a meal with one or more families from church on Sunday afternoons. Our church has a monthly Sunday lunch potluck, and many families try to practice hospitality at least once a month on another Sunday. It may take some extra work on Saturday to pull together a meal for Sunday hospitality but it is well worth it. This investment of time has born great fruit over the years for our whole family.
3) We also make a conscious effort to hang around after Sunday morning and evening services (as well as on Wednesday nights) to talk. An extra thirty minutes two or three times a week really adds up over time.
4) My husband and I joined a “supper club” 8 years ago. There are six couples in the group and we meet once a month for dinner in one another’s homes during the school year. One month we go out to dinner and one month we have a family event, meeting for a total of 8 dinners throughout the course of the year. When we were invited to join this group I was concerned about hiring childcare once a month, but it has been a fantastic investment of our time and money. This group has become so important to us! Our supper club group is limited to just six couples–if a couple moves we invite another couple to take their spot. We have also made it a requirement for our supper club that all couples must be Christians and home school, since those two things are the foundation of what we are all seeking in a supportive group of friends. We have tried to maintain a balance of couples from different churches so that we aren’t always talking about church at our Saturday night dinners.
5) I have found a friend who is available when I am! This is such an answer to prayer. My friend is a young wife whose husband often has to work nights. Once or twice a month I go to her house after my kids are put to bed and we talk and pray together. Many nights I don’t get there until 10 pm, but we are both night owls and it works for us! I know other women who meet at 6 a.m. to exercise together before their kids are awake. Be creative about when you meet a friend.
6) I really benefit from some virtual friendships, too. I know, a lot of people can get sucked into that world and they don’t have any real life friends–don’t let yourself go there! But on the other hand, I have found some really encouraging support networks on Facebook: a couple groups of fellow adoptive moms, a group for Christian home schooling moms who use the same curriculum I do, and a group for moms whose child has the same medical need that my little one does. Each group has spawned some closer relationships which provide an important source of support and encouragement for me. I live in a small town where it would be unusual to find many people that share my circumstances–but online I can find a whole group of them! Some of these online friendships have even transcended cyberspace as we have been able to meet in real life, and that has been a tremendous blessing. One word of caution: I only join groups for women as these friendships can quickly become very close. I do not form friendships with men in real life, and I live by the same rules in cyberspace.
7) Along those same lines, I have a few close friends from my younger years who no longer live nearby. These are the ones who I can call after weeks of silence and we pick right back up where we left off. We can’t talk every day or even every week–but when we do talk, it means SO much. Some of my closest friendships are carried out long-distance via phone, email, and the very occasional cross-country vacation trip.
8) My husband and I look for like-minded families and invest our time there. It is easier to get together if there is “someone for everyone” so to speak–a solid couple that we both get along with and some kids that can hang out with our kids. We have a lot of kids and they span a wide age gap. Our kids are used to spending time with others of all ages, and they enjoy when we invite other families over even if they are not all the same age.
Some of the other Wemmicks chimed in on their blogs, too. To read how other home school moms are handling their friendships during this busy season, check out the following links: