As homeschooling moms, we influence our family members SO MUCH since they’re with us all day. (All. Day.) And I feel like I’m with the kids even more when we’re, say, staying home with a newborn during flu season. In order to make my influence a good influence and not a crazy one, I need a community of friends who influence me in a positive way.
They keep me anchored. They come play. (What’s playing, again?) They demonstrate human-ing and life-ing to my children, who naturally don’t believe it when it’s only me. And friends come in categories, which is awesome because that means you can have these kinds of friends too.
Here are my six top favorite types of friends, in no particular order.
The Friend Who Homeschools
You’ve got to have someone who is wrestling through home education along with you! You need it for the support network, at a minimum. Nobody else feels it. Right here. I recommend a pleasant mix of real life and online friends.
If you haven’t found a co-op yet, let me recommend them. Co-ops were great when I was the student, but now I am the master. Ahem. Teacher. And they are still great. The kids who were my fellow co-op students are still kind of like cousins and we share snarky Latin memes and comment on each others’ kid pictures on Facebook. I also love our current co-op mamas. You’ve got to have people to do life with.
The Friend Whose Kids Go to Public School
My husband and I actually joined a church full of public schoolers for theological reasons. Growing up as a homeschooler, I had that arrogant impression that homeschoolers were better and probably holier than everyone else. Lies! So, my husband and I intentionally sought a church with educational diversity. It’s much harder to fall into a mindset of “those evil public schoolers” when that includes all three of your pastors, your Bible study leader, and five of your best friends.
Besides offering preventive humility, I find that teacher friends are brimming with information and ideas. They usually have clever solutions for subjects or academic struggles. They are a helpful perspective for what’s regarded as normal for a given age level. I also appreciate the insider perspective on our local schools so I can continue to make an informed choice about homeschooling.
I also benefit from friendship with public-schooling parents. They have regular hours away from their kids, which means they do things all day that aren’t teaching or diapers. I marvel at this a little. For instance, one of my friends actually has time to study the Bible and get training to teach it better. Her Bible study is really good!
The Friend Who Has Been There Before
Parenting is baffling, let alone homeschooling, and you’ve got to have older homeschooling mom friends you trust who have been through it before. I have found some, and they are gems. It’s worth tracking down someone whose advice doesn’t make you run away screaming. Also, they often have teenagers who will be “big kids” and maybe even babysitters for your littles. It’s a win-win.
The Friend You Can Help
Part of being in community is not just being the one who learns, but also the one who gives. If you’ve been homeschooling at least a year, you can share your experience with new homeschoolers. I always find it encouraging to remember, “Oh, I do know something.”
Sometimes people need other things. I’m not good at taking people food and I’m perpetually slightly overwhelmed, but right now I can have lonely people over for board games and a scroungey dinner when their family is out of town. Sometimes I just listen when a friend is having a rough time (still), or dispense coffee and hugs and prayer. You need to take care of your friends.
The Friend With Lots of Kids
It never fails: I always leave these friends in awe of their patience. There’s a hashtag #motherhoodissanctifying for good reason.
These friends have been through all the stomach bugs and they have scaled the mountains of dishes and laundry, and they get it. They know it’s hard, they don’t judge me (as far as I know), and they might be able to encourage me. Playdates with them are great because there are plenty of playmates for everybody.
When I have an issue, they can tell me if it’s time for professional help. They are also full of good ideas if I choose to ask for them, and they never say, “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!” or “Are they all yours?” (There is no good answer.) And they are still fun people to be around.
You should definitely have a friend with more kids than yourself.
And last but not least…
The Friend Without Kids
In some ways, I feel like this kind of friend takes the most intentionality to keep up with, because they tend to work during the day and therefore can’t do daytime kid stuff. But they are so very worth it.
They like to go shopping! And drink coffee! And they cook delicious things! They read books and watch movies and make stuff! They play board games that involve strategy and reading the little cards! Sometimes, they travel and have a perspective on the wide world which I cannot get from driving between Target and the library. It’s nice to do things that don’t revolve around kids.
Friends without kids are not tired from their own children, so they have energy to invest in my children. It’s incredibly helpful to have someone around who is excited to hold your baby and hear about ponies and Minecraft. They come in all ages: fresh out of college up through grandmas. They are all excellent.
Highly recommend. Five stars.
I could go on—friendship is a beautiful thing. Tell me, what kind of friends have you been appreciating lately?
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of istock.