Last week on Instagram I shared how it can be challenging to find community for our kids especially when they have niche interests. It felt as though many of you could relate and so I want to revisit this topic a little more.
When we first started homeschooling we were pretty lucky because we lived in the city that I grew up in and we had connections. We had friends that I'd grown up with as well as new friends we'd made along the way.
When our kids were little it was easy to make friends. We'd pull up at the park or the library and the kids would meet other kids and if they hit it off I'd exchange numbers with the parent and we'd meet up for a playdate. We joined a homeschool group that mostly met for park days and through that group we made some lasting friendships. When that group disbanded I decided to start our own group. We did a weekly coop thing until we started traveling in our RV. When we traveled our experience was similar to when our kids were younger but our kids played a bigger role now in staying connected with new friends. They'd meet someone at the pool or in the rec room and exchange info and stay in touch through facetime and texting.
It's safe to say the first decade of homeschooling we had the social aspect down. But then 2020 happened. Along with a lot of other major life changes we relocated in April of 2020 and started looking for a house. We were ready and excited for the new chapter but we didn't know anyone who lived in the area plus it was right when everything was shut down and we're in California so every in person activity was a no go.
Not only were there no park days for us to plug into park days weren't really something our kids were into any more. And I get it. So of course I got on Facebook and joined a bunch of homeschool groups for our surrounding area, I Googled art classes and other activities and I just kept coming up short. It was discouraging. It is discouraging. After having traveled in our RV for several years (which was a great experience) then 2020 and all the shut downs our kids were in need of some in person connections. They were both lucky enough to have a handful of friends they stayed connected to over FaceTime and whatnot but we needed in person connections.
While I couldn't quite solve the social dilemma I knew there had to be something we could get engaged in to help us not feel so isolated. Around that same time my daughter had come to me and expressed that she wanted to start earning money more regularly. She's not quite old enough for a job outside the home so we chatted through some ideas and she came up with the option of reselling clothing. We both love to thrift and hate the idea that a majority of the clothes at the thrift store don't get sold and end up in a land fill somewhere.
So we set things in motion and started our resale business. It was so fun being able to thrift with a purpose. we've learned a lot and are constantly brainstorming ideas for how we can get better at it and expand. It's been an ongoing learning experience in so many ways. But that's not even the best part.
As we started selling on Instagram people we didn't know started following and purchasing from us. And Isa was able to start connecting with people who were purchasing from us. She found out that one of our customers actually lived less than an hour away from us. They hit it off and after a few weeks just happened to be coming to our area. We were able to hang out IRL and it was great! We've since been able to meet up a couple times AND Isa got to attend her first formal (homecoming) at her friend's public school.
I could have never in a million years planned for her to make a friend this way. While I like to think I'm good at thinking outside the box and being creative I'm not sure I could have came up with this one if I'd tried. While I still don't have all the answers for how we're going to plug in here and find our people I'm continuing to trust the process. I know this is the path we're supposed to be on and I know although it's excruciatingly slow that this will work itself out. I continue to put my feelers out there which often leads to discouragement and disappointment... cause no my kids don't want to join 4H, the national charity league or play basketball (no shade if your kids like that it's just not my kids scene).
We've been at this thing for a decade now and if I've learned anything it's to trust the process because it always ends up working out. But there's no denying that as our kids get older this piece of the puzzle gets a little more complex. They are becoming more independent and living more fully into who they are. They have their own unique interests and a simple park day just doesn't cut it anymore.
Through the years I've watched friends successfully graduate their well adjusted homeschoolers and that gives me hope. I know we're not alone in this and I know that relocating last year plays a big role but just like everything else I know we'll get through it. I may not have the answers but something that I'm learning is to stay open to new opportunities, stay true to your family culture, and keep looking outside the box!