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Extra Curricular Balance and Friends


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I've gotten frustrated with suburbia. This is probably more of a vent than anything else, since I can't think of one constructive way to broach the issue and I can't even vent to my friends, since they are the offenders.

 

I have 3 kids and we decided before they were old enough to participate in any "extras" that we would allow each child 2 days/nights of extracurriculars. If the chosen activity required a practice and a game schedule, that would count as their 2 day allotment. Each of my children are in scouts and gymnastics. These 3 scheduled events take up somewhere between 1.5 -2.5 hours of our Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays including drive time. Except for Monday nights, all the activities are scheduled before public school kids even get out. Our afternoon/evening schedule is clear on Tuesday-Sunday by design. I'm so thankful that we only have 3 time commitments a week for our 3 kids, as they participate together in gymnastics. I don't think I could handle another day of rushing to this or that. We don't participate in coops because it's too stressful to have another scheduled day. Every other Sunday evening we participate as a family with a church group. We adults have other, less frequent commitments, but mainly, we make time for family, friends, and my sanity.

 

Recently, my sister-in-law called to say her kids really want to see their cousins and to ask when could we get together? (they live 40 minutes away). Her kids go to a university model school on MWF, have soccer practice 3 nights a week, karate another night, soccer games all day on Saturdays, and a church activity every Sunday evening. Well...it doesn't sound like they have much time for us. (Their Wednesday night soccer practice was rained out, so we saw them then because we were available.)

 

My kids wanted to play with the next door public school friends, but they are only available on Mondays for 1 hour (dinner hour) between activities.

 

Our homeschooling neighbors organize their day differently (school in the afternoon, while my kids are playing) and have activities every night too.

 

Even some people in our church group are not participating on Sunday nights because they are playing chauffeur for their teens activities on Sunday evenings.

 

These are just a few examples of recent interactions that prevent my kids from forming and maintaining relationships. Though we have made a point not to over-schedule ourselves, others have not and my kids are suffering. Friends met in scouts and gymnastics are too busy to be friends outside of that scheduled time. Even our own cousins are so over-booked that we can't find an evening or weekend to spend together. Unfortunately, we also school year round, so my kids aren't available for some summer events, though we do our best to be flexible. I bend over backwards in the summer to make my kids available for friends and still get our school work done. I live and grew up in the Bible Belt. Sundays have always been family days, church days, and days of rest. I just don't understand the scheduling of so many activities on Sunday and it adds to the hurt that I'm feeling for my kids.

 

My kids have many acquaintances, but no deep friendships. Fortunately, they are close in age and love to play together, but I need my daughter to have a girl friend. Even her female cousins are 4 years younger and too busy. Are most children suffering from this lack of friends like mine? If their acquaintances are too busy going from one organized activity to another, are they even building actual friendships?

 

How do we meet children who actually have time to be friends?

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We're in that overscheduled group that is annoying you so much. The flip side is... my kids do have deep friendships. There is a core group of about 15 kids that they see in various activities over the course of the week. So, on the one hand, sometimes I feel sad that we're overwhelmed with too many commitments and we're constantly trying to figure out how to cut back. On the other hand, we never really have that worry about finding time to see friends and maintain relationships. Those activities are chosen in part to help my kids maintain those relationships - as well as for the sake of the activity, of course.

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How do we meet children who actually have time to be friends?

 

Do you have a nearby park? When we moved, we were very strategic about house-hunting. I insisted on a neighborhood with a fantastic park. Kids with free time tend to play in neighborhood parks (or green spaces, fields, etc.) during that free time. Mine do, and that is how they met their best friends. We have kids in and out of here and my kids go over to friends' houses. They can spend (literally) all day from 9 am until dark playing between houses and at the park, just as DH and I did when we were kids. It is heaven, but there was a lot of us "stalking" kids at the park before we found the perfect playmates for our kids (with parents who share our values). I got pretty good at judging which kids had potential and which did not. :tongue_smilie:

 

Another thing to consider is that even kids who are free are still frequently indoors because they have no one to play with outdoors, just like your kids. Have you tried just being out in the afternoon/evening, playing in front of your house or in an otherwise visible space where you can be seen? Biking, walking, tossing a ball? In our "stalking" we actually came across many kids who clearly wanted to play but were shy to introduce themselves or join in. Most had to be asked, sometimes several times. In fact, one of DD's good friend's (and the first one she made here) looked positively unapproachable at first. She was so standoffish, even I questioned whether DD should ask her to play, but she did. The girl declined, very shyly, but I could see a glimmer. Though DD was hesitant to ask if she was sure she didn't want to play, she did, and was declined again...but clearly only due to shyness this time. Then DD held out one of her stuffed cats to the girl and asked if she wanted to play with it. Bingo! The girl lit up like the 4th of July and they were instantly friends. Both 8, they even have the same name! LOL

 

Anyway, you need to find a place to stalk those who obviously have free time. ;)

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Well, I guess we would be considered way over-scheduled. My children make their friends through their activities. My gymnast in particular has mostly other gymnast friends. They know and understand each other very well, spend ten plus hours per week together during practice alone and it is easy to plan play dates and such as all the girls have a similar schedule. We are flexible with our schooling schedule in order to meet up with other homeschoolers now and again. And I generally will allow the kids to run outside for at least half an hour anytime the neighborhood kids happen to be outside - which really isn't all that often, maybe once per week.

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We're in that overscheduled group that is annoying you so much. The flip side is... my kids do have deep friendships. There is a core group of about 15 kids that they see in various activities over the course of the week. So, on the one hand, sometimes I feel sad that we're overwhelmed with too many commitments and we're constantly trying to figure out how to cut back. On the other hand, we never really have that worry about finding time to see friends and maintain relationships. Those activities are chosen in part to help my kids maintain those relationships - as well as for the sake of the activity, of course.

 

Do the activities lend themselves to true friendship building? I feel like our scouts groups are friend-building, but then we don't see them again for another week. Gymnastics is highly structured and leaves no time for friendly interaction, so though my kids often invite "friends" from their class, we still haven't been able to organize a time when they can actually come to play and interact.

 

I'm just thinking that what i consider a good friend (and you don't need many) is someone you want to share everything with, to enjoy your favorite activities with, call when you feel down, celebrate with when you have a good day. They just don't have anyone like that in our activities. Those we've reached out to are not available for anything more than organized activity time. I guess I just can't believe that a friend, rather than an acquaintance, can't make time to be in your day-to-day life.

 

It's not that my kids can't relate to anyone else, but they just keep getting disappointed by "friends" who aren't available to be more than "someone in my class."

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Do you have a nearby park?

 

Anyway, you need to find a place to stalk those who obviously have free time. ;)

 

Our nearest park is a mile away and we have to drive because it is an unsafe road on the way. We exercise there every morning and spend an hour there most afternoons, usually by ourselves. :-( The park is small and many toddlers play there, but not many big kids. My kids play freely around our neighborhood and my boys met some slightly older boys at the pond the other day, but haven't seen them since.

 

We do play in front of our house frequently and wave and talk to those who walk by. We've met a few people this way, but most of our neighborhood kids are younger. We have 2 neighbors who play frequently, but they are 3 and 6 years younger than my dd. She does enjoy their company, but the age difference can be a challenge sometimes.

 

My sister lives nearby and we get together often. Again, her kids are younger. My dd has learned how to play well with younger children, but she does get frustrated sometimes that she is the one that has to accommodate. I sure wish I could find a girl her age that could engage outside of activities.

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My older kids have their friends through shul. Our religion requires that everyone live within walking distance of everyone else, more or less, and on Saturdays no one is allowed to do much of anything -- even watch TV. They hang out at the park for hours or go to each other's houses. I never see my daughter on Saturday afternoons; She just goes home from shul with someone else.

 

I keep the Hebrew School schedule in my own calendar so I know when they're having Pro D Days and all those days without school.

 

They go to camp in the summer, and it's a camp for Orthodox Jewish kids so it's the same ones as they see in shul, at holiday events, and so on.

 

We're year-round schoolers so we can afford days off when the other kids are off and want to do something.

 

The major family activity, other than religion, is music. That doesn't involve much socialising at this stage, and since a lot of Jews also put their kids in strings lessons (for some reason), they see the same kids there, too.

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I'm in the same boat. We allow 2 activities/classes per child. There are a lot of potential great friends in these classes, but they are over scheduled and don't have time. My son has a friend across the street and he is never available because between him and his siblings he is never home. It makes me sad for my kids too, but I don't really know what I can do to change. With toddlers too it is hard to be super flexible...

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I try not to overbook my family, but for me it is because I am exhausted most of the time. Keeping up with lesson planning, cleaning, cooking, one on one time with them on some subjects, budget planning, paper keeping and filing, and working 30 hours a week, makes it difficult for me to make our family available for friend time.I have a daughter in a drama class which is 1 day a week and then my two youngest daughter goes to co-op once a week. My oldest just works part time. That is about the best I can do for giving them socializing time. My oldest has a lot of friends and some deep friendships that she has formed during the years. My youngest daughter has friends from co-op but it is just not in her character to form deep friendships. She enjoys going to events and to co-op but she is very happy with that and never ask for more. My daughter, who is in drama, just started forming some deep friendships in her drama class. At first, it was just friends she made but then she got an ipod touch for Christmas and that is when she started really keeping in touch with friends. Although, it is a bit of a problem because it has interfered with her finishing her schoolwork and getting distracted, it has helped her keep in touch with close friends. This week, she is currently grounded from it due to her texting when she wasn't supposed to be on it. So, it isn't all that great. I will probably have to limit her to using it an hour a day or something like that from now on.

 

She is sometimes asking me if she could meet up with her drama friend at the mall but so far, I haven't had enough time to take her. My oldest daughter has volunteered to go hang out with them at the mall and keep an eye on them. I wouldn't worry too much about them making long lasting friendships unless they are complaining about it. If it isn't bothering them, they might not be needing that yet. My daughters didn't start feeling like they wanted a deep friendship until they hit the teens, before that they were perfectly content with seeing friends at events or co-op.

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Do the activities lend themselves to true friendship building? I feel like our scouts groups are friend-building, but then we don't see them again for another week. Gymnastics is highly structured and leaves no time for friendly interaction, so though my kids often invite "friends" from their class, we still haven't been able to organize a time when they can actually come to play and interact.

 

At least in our case, they do. Most of the kids we see often are the kids we do our science studies with and the kids from our small co-op. Those kids are in overlapping activities with us (and with each other that don't involve us) including an annual Shakespeare production, a Destination Imagination team, a soccer team, and a class at the Botanic Gardens. These are the kids that my kids want at their birthday parties (and vice versa) and who they invite to go places, who they sometimes have sleepovers with. There are other families we see at one activity or only see for aa short time during the year - those kids are my kids' friends too, but not their good friends, you know? In some cases, I think they'd like to be... (either us or them or both) but it's hard when you're busy, as you're finding.

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My oldest was over-booked with just one activity - competitive dance. She did go to public school but the majority of her closest friends have come from dance. I think that's what often happens - the activities are where the kids get to make the connections that form close friendships.

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We live in a rural area and have the same problem. I've always limited the kids' extra curriculars because I didn't want to be a chauffuring soccer mom, and because of limited finances and 4dc. For years we struggled to find good friends for our kids because everyone was so overcommitted. When we moved about 3 years ago (only an hour from where we used to live, but far enough that it was like starting over making new friends, etc) I made a huge effort to find other homeschoolers. We did find some other homeschoolers, but it was still difficult to find time to get together with them. What finally worked for us was finding a home ed group (actually one that we used to go to on occasion before we moved) that is almost purely social and committing to going weekly. At least this way they get to see friends every Wednesday. This has been more successful in building friendships than regular extra curriculars. With swim lessons, tennis lessons, etc, the kids didn't really have a lot of opportunity to interact socially because they were focused on listening to their instructors and doing what they were told. Now they get 3 hours every week to talk, play, etc.

 

Is there a home ed group near you that is purely social? If not, maybe you can try to organize one. Also, maybe you could be a bit more flexible in how you organize your day to fit in socializing with your homeschooling neighbors. I hope you find something that works for you.

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My kids made their best friends from our co-op classes. Generally when they were younger, most of the kids went home with another family for the afternoon every other Friday afternoon. They've had the same friends most of their lives.

 

Oldest ds made some good friends at Scouts, but their troop was a busy one, so they did lots of activities including camping with them. Rarely did they visit otherwise. Next ds didn't find close friends from Scouts til he went into football in high school. Go figure.

 

Dd has made lots of friends at various sports, and they come over once in a while during that sport season. Once again, her best friends are from the co-op classes. We do finally, after all these years of hauling the boys out to the sticks to visit their friends, have some neighborhood girls who come over all the time. New problem for me. lol.

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That's one reason why I hate the idea of dropping co-op in the fall. While DD has gotten increasingly frustrated with the classes, it's the "go outside and play on the playground", followed by going out to lunch somewhere with a friend, and maybe going to a park or to their house to play for a few hours that has helped her develop a few friends, and I fear that if we give up the co-op, we'll essentially end up giving up the friends.

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I know how you feel. We have had times when no one could get together due to our schedule conflicts. I have found if you provide a time, people will come. Since you have a park near you advertise a home school park day on local yahoo groups or whatever. There are others at home wanting friends just like you. Keep trying and you will find them :-)

 

I had the kids do a class this spring in hopes of more friends. They haven't made any friends they would want to see another time in the week. I do however think co-ops can provide that social circle if you find the right fit.

 

My dd is a gymnast and her life is in the gym. Thus her friends are from the gym. She has 2 other friends she doesn't see as often. Mostly due to schedules. My ds has a few local friends but he too doesn't see them often and he hasn't made the friends in his sports. We hope Scouts this summer will bring some new ones. But I do think at this age their closest friends are the ones they see weekly in activities. I don't see that changing unless we commit to a co-op. B/C others are busy all week long. Schedules clash. But I can't expect people to chose their lives on our free time any more than they wouldn't expect me to chose my free time based on theirs.

 

But I have found when I search, there are others who want to get together. Start a park day and keep at it.

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Would it be possible for you to re-arrange your school day so that your kids are free when the other homeschooling family is not doing school? I had to do this. It's not ideal, but if the friendships would be that important for your kids then it might be worth it.

 

 

Unfortunately not. We used to school with them. They came over every afternoon and we schooled together. Their kids sleep until 10am, something I could only dream of getting my children to do. She had a baby 2 years ago and that complicated even our afternoon schedule and my kids don't function well in the afternoons, so we split up. My kids do so much better in the mornings and she now schools from 2-5pm. We're half done with school by the time they have even eaten breakfast. It might be more possible in the summer, when the heat makes us switch our school schedule to the afternoon...but it won't make the neighbors wake up earlier.

 

It's kind of been a painful loss for my daughter who says, "I never see E any more, except at Girl Scouts." She makes similar comments about other friends.

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As children get older, when you restrict scheduled activities to only a few hours per week, the other children that are getting 10+ hours of "togetherness" are the ones that may be making the truest friendships. Unfortunately leaving your children out of the inner circle. Even if the activities vary, I feel like the same group of children travel from activity to activity throughout the week. Carpooling, play-dates before or after the activity, weekend sleepovers, etc are some ways we have encouraged dd9 to really bond with her closer friends.

It does take an added effort on the parents part, but the rewards are worth it for us.

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I really wanted a family life that wasn't over scheduled, but oldest ds loves sports. It is such a great outlet for him and it makes him really happy.

 

I'd say take a close look at your 3 kids and see if their current activities are keeping them fulfilled. My ds actually told us that he'd rather have more time training for his sport than playing with friends. He has maybe 3 good friends, but he doesn't have a very close friend or best friend. He has a ton of acquaintances from our homeschool group.

 

Have you thought of going that route? Joining a homeschool group with a weekly park day so the kids can get together and just play with others? Those families are likely very busy too but without being tied to the school schedule many homeschooled kids do have a bit more time.

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We experience much of the same trouble, but add in that my husband works an emergency medicine schedule, so we are severely limited in our activities. If our children cannot both participate in the same activity at the same time, we can't do that activity because there is no one but me to take them if my husband is at work. For those of you who do make friends in groups and maintain those friendships in a group setting, is it because you are extroverted? Most of our family is introverted--we meet people in groups but don't really get to know them there.

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As children get older, when you restrict scheduled activities to only a few hours per week, the other children that are getting 10+ hours of "togetherness" are the ones that may be making the truest friendships. Unfortunately leaving your children out of the inner circle. Even if the activities vary, I feel like the same group of children travel from activity to activity throughout the week. Carpooling, play-dates before or after the activity, weekend sleepovers, etc are some ways we have encouraged dd9 to really bond with her closer friends.

It does take an added effort on the parents part, but the rewards are worth it for us.

 

I think we live in too large a community to see the same children from activity to activity. We live in a small town between two large suburbs. Our town is so small it doesn't have its own activities, so we travel to the next two towns, which means that we are mixed in with the 90,000 neighbors to the south and the 140,000 neighbors to our north. We've never had an overlap of friends from one event to the next. It's not a great distance for us. Our activities are within 10 minutes from our house and I wouldn't hesitate to drive my kids to play with a friend, but we just haven't been able to find one with enough time to spare for us.

 

I guess I'm just out of touch with the modern world. I made friends within my neighborhood playing after school. I made friends in scouts, and our parents drove us within town to play together. It just seems our world has gotten bigger and we aren't keeping up.

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I agree that friendships can form in the "activities." My kids go to Little Gym 3 nights per week, and some of the other kids there also participate on multiple nights / in multiple classes. That said, I don't think they have to see each other more than weekly to develop a friendship. ... Honestly, from an outsider looking in, you seem to be frustrated that others don't follow your relatively unusual schedule. I'd give some thought to whether you could compromise your ideals for a couple days a week in order to give your kids a chance to spend time with kids on a different schedule.

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I'd say take a close look at your 3 kids and see if their current activities are keeping them fulfilled. My ds actually told us that he'd rather have more time training for his sport than playing with friends. He has maybe 3 good friends, but he doesn't have a very close friend or best friend. He has a ton of acquaintances from our homeschool group.

 

Have you thought of going that route? Joining a homeschool group with a weekly park day so the kids can get together and just play with others? Those families are likely very busy too but without being tied to the school schedule many homeschooled kids do have a bit more time.

 

My kids are not athletic...at all. They come by it honestly. We (dad, really) play with them and teach them some skills, but they would be on the bench in organized sports. It's fine. They are happy to participate in gymnastics, which improves their coordination, but doesn't require competition. They get along very well with the scouts and enjoy the activities therein. They spend time working on scout achievements at home. I can't see any signs of them not feeling fulfilled in their activities. I don't even know what that would look like. They definitely aren't begging to be in anything else. They are actively seeking kids to come over to play or to play with outside, etc. I hear a lot of "I wish our cousins could come over and play this new game with us." "I wish so-and-so could ride bikes with me." "Can we invite so-and-so over to fish in the pond?"

 

There are a lot of homeschool coops around us, but no social groups that I am aware of. There is a field trip group. Some ladies from church set up a park day every month, but it's all toddlers and preschool.

 

In the past, I've invited the kids over that my kids request, but they aren't available. I'll start broadening the net to some others that they haven't asked to invite to see if we can find someone.

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I agree that friendships can form in the "activities." My kids go to Little Gym 3 nights per week, and some of the other kids there also participate on multiple nights / in multiple classes. That said, I don't think they have to see each other more than weekly to develop a friendship. ... Honestly, from an outsider looking in, you seem to be frustrated that others don't follow your relatively unusual schedule. I'd give some thought to whether you could compromise your ideals for a couple days a week in order to give your kids a chance to spend time with kids on a different schedule.

 

I agree with you somewhat. My kids would definitely say that they have friends. They make them from those weekly interactions. They have lots of friends from scouts, gymnastics, sunday school, the neighborhood, their preschool years, etc. I've just recently connected the dots between their expressions of "I wish..." and "yeah, but so-and-so can't come," which tell me that they want deeper relationships with these children. They don't want more friends, they want true friends. Now my task is to find the other kids who want the deeper relationships, not to put them in more activities to meet more superficial friends. If they're like me, they'll have a dozen or so friends, but they need 1 or 2 really close friends to share their life with. That's what we're struggling to find now.

 

I suppose we could stalk a few of our Monday friends and join their Wednesday and Thursday activities just to be near them.

 

You're definitely right that I'm frustrated with other's schedules. Theirs don't have to look like ours, but we have 6 available afternoon/evenings and we can't agree on one free evening to enjoy each other's company? Not a scheduled, organized class or activity, but just part of real life? I admit that I am reacting out of hurt for my children. They express the disappointment, but I don't think they put it together, that the friends (or at least their parents) have a choice over the schedule that keeps them apart.

 

Those of you with booked schedules, do your kids pursue their friendships beyond the structure of activities?

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As children get older, when you restrict scheduled activities to only a few hours per week, the other children that are getting 10+ hours of "togetherness" are the ones that may be making the truest friendships. Unfortunately leaving your children out of the inner circle. Even if the activities vary, I feel like the same group of children travel from activity to activity throughout the week. Carpooling, play-dates before or after the activity, weekend sleepovers, etc are some ways we have encouraged dd9 to really bond with her closer friends.

It does take an added effort on the parents part, but the rewards are worth it for us.

 

I expect this more in the teen years. Am I wrong in thinking that my 6-9 year olds should have these types of friends?

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This might depend on where a person lives. Every single activity my kids have been in, even the ones they have done year after year, the kids from the previous session are often not in the next session. Even homeschool groups look completely different from year to year. It's frustrating, but that is how it is has been.

 

I see it both ways here. Some people return season after season. Others, like my niece and nephews try a new sport or activity each semester to try something new. Even if they eventually drift back to soccer, which they always do, they aren't on the same team any more.

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I know how you feel. We have had times when no one could get together due to our schedule conflicts. I have found if you provide a time, people will come. Since you have a park near you advertise a home school park day on local yahoo groups or whatever. There are others at home wanting friends just like you. Keep trying and you will find them :-)

 

I had the kids do a class this spring in hopes of more friends. They haven't made any friends they would want to see another time in the week. I do however think co-ops can provide that social circle if you find the right fit.

 

My dd is a gymnast and her life is in the gym. Thus her friends are from the gym. She has 2 other friends she doesn't see as often. Mostly due to schedules. My ds has a few local friends but he too doesn't see them often and he hasn't made the friends in his sports. We hope Scouts this summer will bring some new ones. But I do think at this age their closest friends are the ones they see weekly in activities. I don't see that changing unless we commit to a co-op. B/C others are busy all week long. Schedules clash. But I can't expect people to chose their lives on our free time any more than they wouldn't expect me to chose my free time based on theirs.

 

But I have found when I search, there are others who want to get together. Start a park day and keep at it.

 

 

Same for Rebecca. She has some casual friends through choir and AHG, but she's closest (so to speak) to the girls on team. She does spend 13.5 hours a week with them. One of her friends from when we did co-op just joined the team and even though they don't practice together (different levels) she's still pleased about it.

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My kids are not athletic...at all. They come by it honestly. We (dad, really) play with them and teach them some skills, but they would be on the bench in organized sports. It's fine. They are happy to participate in gymnastics, which improves their coordination, but doesn't require competition. They get along very well with the scouts and enjoy the activities therein. They spend time working on scout achievements at home. I can't see any signs of them not feeling fulfilled in their activities. I don't even know what that would look like. They definitely aren't begging to be in anything else. They are actively seeking kids to come over to play or to play with outside, etc. I hear a lot of "I wish our cousins could come over and play this new game with us." "I wish so-and-so could ride bikes with me." "Can we invite so-and-so over to fish in the pond?"

 

There are a lot of homeschool coops around us, but no social groups that I am aware of. There is a field trip group. Some ladies from church set up a park day every month, but it's all toddlers and preschool.

 

In the past, I've invited the kids over that my kids request, but they aren't available. I'll start broadening the net to some others that they haven't asked to invite to see if we can find someone.

 

 

Ah, this sounds tough- now I see what you mean. It really sounds as though the activities are not enough. I'd skip the park days with mostly toddlers too. Field trip groups may not meet that need either.

 

I'd seek out a homeschool group that meets for weekly park days and if I couldn't find one, I'd set one up and offer it to the homeschoolers in the area (it sounds like you have other hs in your area). I'd be willing to bet that others would like something like that too. Make it at the same time on the same day every week and others will start coming, I'm sure.

 

 

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I am sorry you are watching your children hurt. And, I am sorry that you seem hurt too. I think you are taking the choice other people make for their children and their schedules personally. (ie. since they are the offenders, it doesn't sound like they have much time for us).

 

When I read your post, I not only hear sadness, but I hear judgment. I am not trying to be harsh or make you feel bad. But these statements specifically make me feel that you are making judgments....

*but mainly, we make time for family, friends, and my sanity.

*Even some people in our church group are not participating on Sunday nights because they are playing chauffeur for their teens activities on Sunday evenings.

*Though we have made a point not to over-schedule ourselves, others have not and my kids are suffering.

*I just don't understand the scheduling of so many activities on Sunday and it adds to the hurt that I'm feeling for my kids.

*If their acquaintances are too busy going from one organized activity to another, are they even building actual friendships?

 

Here is what I know as the mother of 3 children (ages 13, 9 and 6).

 

From the beginning we said one activity per child, no activities on Sundays, and almost every evening home. Now fast forward to older kids and that has changed for us as our two oldest boys moved to competitive soccer. We have practices in the evenings, Saturday games for 2 1/2 months in the fall and the spring, and about 3 Sunday games during each soccer season due to weekend tournaments. It is a sacrifice we have chosen to make. Then my oldest son was wanting to make additional friends beyond just his soccer team. So, we joined track at the Christian school 3 days a week. He goes from track to soccer 2 nights a week, and has one additional afternoon (3:30-5:30) practice a week. Joining track has allowed him to make new friends and really connect with one child in particular. My youngest two also participate in an educational co-op on Fridays from 9-11:45 am. My oldest aged out of it this year and goes to a friend's house for lego reobotics while we do this. My 6 year old also does a homeschool gymnastics practice once a week during daytime hours. Right now she isn't in evening activities, but that may change.

 

This may sound "unbalanced", overscheduled, or too much for my children, but it isn't. We have said no to other activities. And, as they have gotten older, commitments of these things have changed. And, we had to make a choice to step out or change with it. We chose to change with it because the sports have been a passion for our children and where several of their friendships come from. And, the educational co-op has been INCREDIBLE in terms of my little two making additonal friendships. Friendships where we may go to lunch after co-op, or where we may have an occasional sleep over.

 

Now, I say all this to tell you, not one choice in regards to my children's activities was intentionally meant to hurt friends or family in terms of our not being able to get together as often. In addtion, now that my oldest is in junior high, we have also had to step out of daytime play dates because I cannot get an entire days worth of schooling in with him in only 2 hours. My friendships have grown as well as women within these same circles (co-op and sports). Maybe it is because they understand my schedule, maybe it is because they know my priority to homeschooling has to come first.

 

I think the suggestion of trying to connect with other homeschooling moms/families at a park date or mini get-together is a great idea. Also, as you are making connections, you may find you have more in common with families that have a similar approach in extra curricular activities.

 

My best advice is to give it over to God. When we moved 3 years ago and had to start over again in terms of making new friends and connections, I prayed daily for us to find a church and friends. We have been blessed by God and are at peace. I pray the same for you.

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We specifically moved to a very kid-centered planned community when Asher was 18 months because I wanted friends for him. We play every afternoon with PS/private school neighborhood kids. I just take my kids outside and they play with whomever is available. What about church? Our church has a ton of small groups to choose from, we chose the one in our neighborhood and my kids play with those kids after they come home from school, and they see them every Sunday morning. Does your church have a kids program? We also made awesome friends through MOPS that we still connect with even though we don't do it anymore, does your dd have any former friends that she has lost touch with that you could invite over? CC has provided the best opportunities for hs'd friendships, my son was in an all boy class this year which was perfect. We have those kids over (one at a time) on a weekly basis. The last place we have found good friends is a local hs group, we can only go in the summer because it meets on CC day, but we found kids for all three of mine to play with.

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Those of you with booked schedules, do your kids pursue their friendships beyond the structure of activities?

 

Yes, absolutely.

 

I expect this more in the teen years. Am I wrong in thinking that my 6-9 year olds should have these types of friends?

 

I think in the teen years, that kids are more able to maintain these relationships themselves. They have their own phones and social media accounts and eventually driver's licenses. When kids are this age, I think it takes parental effort - sometimes a lot of it - unless your kids are in school with a built in social group or you happen to live in a neighborhood with kids who are right nearby.

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My dd has met some other homeschoolers at ballet and through my efforts (asking and arranging) and we had some kids move in next door. For my ds I answered a posting on the local homeschool forum looking for a similarly aged playmate. We have been getting together consistently for a couple of years now. I have made sure that we continue to schedule this even though I have to modify our school schedule to be sure it happens.

 

My dc are all playing soccer this season, but the other kids (partcularly the boys) are more standoffish.

 

My advice is if you find a potential friend, be willing to modify your schedule to accommodate theirs for long enough that the "habit" is established. Also, consider letting them do you a favor once in a while (can I drop off dd while I run this errand and then come right back?) Sometimes, rathet than being an imposition it can help break the ice. All the normal safety cautions apply, of course.

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We are busy. It is just life these days.

 

We go to co-op once a week. My kids have grown up w/those kids. My kids have been in the same scout troop since they were old enough. Again, they are growing up w/those kids. Seeing them week in and week out, many year in and year out, gives us a place to scout out who would make a good match for friendships for our family. Then I invite them over, either to our house, or a field trip, or a birthday party. Then they invite us back. Hsers are all in the same boat, trying to put together the curriculum and the social side for our kids. But I have to reach out. Sometimes it was uncomfortable. In the end, this has led to friendship for dh and me as we all navigate through hsing together. Many activities will find hsing parents doing the same things (co-op recitals, hs conventions, etc) It is nice to be part of this community and have friends, instead of feeling like an outsider, like I did the first year or so of hsing, when I was still feeling everything out. Plus my kids have a better chance of seeing kids regularly when I get along w/the parents. I have never understood the PS type of friendships where the kids see each other every day, but the parents don't know each other, and they wonder who it is they are inviting over for the bday party and if the kids will even show. HSing lets us all make friends together.

 

We are also pretty scheduled. Besides the co-op and the scout meeting once a week, I have one that has a dance class one night (the same night as scouts) and I have to drive my niece that I babysit to her dance class another day. These places have always been good, because I get to talk to the other parents while the kids are in class. I have met many friends that way. If nothing else, the sibling along w/me that isn't in the class has an hour of friends to play w/once a week w/the other siblings not in the class. In the younger years, that was enough. But I understand that isn't enough as they get older. But it can lead to another way to meet people.

 

We have a friend in our neighborhood that is busy too. She has 1 hr a week to play. But we take them up on it. Every year at the beginning of the year, her SAHP and I compare schedules and figure out which afternoon that we can do an hour together and we do it all year. Sometimes they meet out to play on the weekends when we are all home, but we know at least they will have that hour each Tues. afternoon to keep the friendship nurtured. Then we invite her to bday parties, occasional sleepovers, and trips to the zoo throughout the year when we can too.

 

MY advice is to take that neighbor kid up on the one hour a week and spend it getting to know the parent and make a family friendship.

 

Good luck!

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I have 3 kids and we decided before they were old enough to participate in any "extras" that we would allow each child 2 days/nights of extracurriculars. If the chosen activity required a practice and a game schedule, that would count as their 2 day allotment. Each of my children are in scouts and gymnastics. These 3 scheduled events take up somewhere between 1.5 -2.5 hours of our Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays including drive time.

 

I think you will find it difficult to even be allowed to join activities with that rule as they approach high school if you are only willing to let them commit to one or two days a week.

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With every choice, you have an opportunity cost. If you choose to limit your kids' activities, you also limit their access to making connections with other children. Unfortunately, you can't have it all. For example, even AYSO soccer has two practices and a game each week starting in U8.

 

I admire your thoughtful consideration in limiting outside activities, don't get me wrong. You have gotten some great advice and ideas from others. Hopefully, something will work for you.

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the friends (or at least their parents) have a choice over the schedule that keeps them apart.

 

Perhaps you can re-examine your attitude toward these other families. You sound very blaming of them for not meeting your needs. But the truth is, their job is not to meet your needs. Their job is to meet their (and their children's) needs. Your job is to meet your (and your children's needs). You sound as though you expect everyone else to bend to do things your way.

 

If no kids are at the park, stop going to the park. Go somewhere that kids are. Play with the homeschooling neighbors after they have gotten up but before they start school (looks like you have 4 hours there). Perhaps have your kids choose activities that are more in line with what they kids they want to be friends with are doing. Ask your kids how they want to handle the issue. Or, accept the fact that the life you want to lead is not in sync with what most others are doing and be ok with it. But it does sound like you are intensely personalizing some comments your kids have made and blaming others for letting you down.

 

I grew up in the country, with one neighbor. I never had the "play outside with all the neighborhood kids" experience. My socializing (other than at school) mostly happened at the activities I was involved in.

 

Tara

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Perhaps you can re-examine your attitude toward these other families. You sound very blaming of them for not meeting your needs. But the truth is, their job is not to meet your needs. Their job is to meet their (and their children's) needs. Your job is to meet your (and your children's needs). You sound as though you expect everyone else to bend to do things your way.

 

If no kids are at the park, stop going to the park. Go somewhere that kids are. Play with the homeschooling neighbors after they have gotten up but before they start school (looks like you have 4 hours there). Perhaps have your kids choose activities that are more in line with what they kids they want to be friends with are doing. Ask your kids how they want to handle the issue. Or, accept the fact that the life you want to lead is not in sync with what most others are doing and be ok with it. But it does sound like you are intensely personalizing some comments your kids have made and blaming others for letting you down.

 

I grew up in the country, with one neighbor. I never had the "play outside with all the neighborhood kids" experience. My socializing (other than at school) mostly happened at the activities I was involved in.

 

Tara

 

 

 

I agree. We left co-op because Rebecca had an opportunity to become a competitive gymnast. I'd hate to think that people might be holding a grudge against us for doing that. :confused1:

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I am sorry you are watching your children hurt. And, I am sorry that you seem hurt too. I think you are taking the choice other people make for their children and their schedules personally. (ie. since they are the offenders, it doesn't sound like they have much time for us).

 

When I read your post, I not only hear sadness, but I hear judgment. I am not trying to be harsh or make you feel bad. But these statements specifically make me feel that you are making judgments....

*but mainly, we make time for family, friends, and my sanity.

*Even some people in our church group are not participating on Sunday nights because they are playing chauffeur for their teens activities on Sunday evenings.

*Though we have made a point not to over-schedule ourselves, others have not and my kids are suffering.

*I just don't understand the scheduling of so many activities on Sunday and it adds to the hurt that I'm feeling for my kids.

*If their acquaintances are too busy going from one organized activity to another, are they even building actual friendships?

 

Now, I say all this to tell you, not one choice in regards to my children's activities was intentionally meant to hurt friends or family in terms of our not being able to get together as often.

 

My best advice is to give it over to God.

 

I hear you about the judgmental undertone. I hear it too, which is why I haven't discussed this with any of my real life friends. I don't want to judge them, I just want to find a few like-minded friends. Some of my thoughts you highlighted are just my reasons behind my choices, but I was overwhelmed by hurt this week as it all hit me and it came out very "judgy." The reason I can't help my kids develop the deeper friendships they are asking for right now is out of my control and seems in direct contrast to what I have tried to implement. I'd never suggest to my friends that they are not doing what they think is best for their kids or that my way is better. Clearly, my plan isn't working out so well for us. So, my "judgment" is really me mentally wrestling through the differences in my community's values and mine, even among circles with which I have lots in common.

 

I rationally see that no one has purposely made the choice to schedule themselves out of our friendship, but it doesn't change the hurt I feel that our friends (previously good/deep friends and some new acquaintances) have, however unintentionally, made choices that do limit our friendship. I know they aren't doing it on purpose. They may not even realize that it is the reason we have drifted apart. I don't expect that everyone we meet becomes a deep friend, but we'd like to find one.

 

My kids and I spent some time in prayer today and reached out to a couple more acquaintances from our pool of many. We'll keep trying and God will provide us with mutually beneficial friends at the right time.

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MY advice is to take that neighbor kid up on the one hour a week and spend it getting to know the parent and make a family friendship.

 

 

We definitely do! This little girl is 3 years younger than dd, though. Her mother and I get along great.

 

As with the rest of my kids' friendships, this one hour just whets their desire to spend time with the friend, but it's not possible.

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If no kids are at the park, stop going to the park. Go somewhere that kids are. Play with the homeschooling neighbors after they have gotten up but before they start school (looks like you have 4 hours there).

 

This situation is more complicated than I explained, but we school from 9-1 and then lunch. They school from 2-5, after their morning routine/chores/lunch, etc.

 

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Perhaps have your kids choose activities that are more in line with what they kids they want to be friends with are doing.

 

My kids make friends easily at every class and activity they are involved in, but the problem is after the activity is over for the week and my kids want to continue the friendship outside of class, their friend isn't available. Short of asking what the Monday night friends are doing on Wednesday nights and showing up there, adding more or different activities to our schedule won't solve the problem. It's also an expensive way to spend time with friends.

 

My kids don't want more friends, they want to know the friends they have better. Friends that will come over to play or will meet us at the park for an afternoon, etc. We know plenty of people, don't have trouble meeting them, but have plenty of trouble fleshing out the friendships they start.

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I agree. We left co-op because Rebecca had an opportunity to become a competitive gymnast. I'd hate to think that people might be holding a grudge against us for doing that. :confused1:

 

 

I definitely wouldn't be holding a grudge over leaving co-op to pursue a different interest, but if we were close friends before and a suddenly busy schedule kept us from seeing you any more, I would feel the loss of that friendship.

 

That's mostly what we're experiencing now. Many prior friends are suddenly too busy for us and that hurts. We've tried to deepen friendships with new friends and they're too busy too.

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This situation is more complicated than I explained, but we school from 9-1 and then lunch. They school from 2-5, after their morning routine/chores/lunch, etc.

 

My kids make friends easily at every class and activity they are involved in, but the problem is after the activity is over for the week and my kids want to continue the friendship outside of class, their friend isn't available. Short of asking what the Monday night friends are doing on Wednesday nights and showing up there, adding more or different activities to our schedule won't solve the problem. It's also an expensive way to spend time with friends.

 

My kids don't want more friends, they want to know the friends they have better. Friends that will come over to play or will meet us at the park for an afternoon, etc. We know plenty of people, don't have trouble meeting them, but have plenty of trouble fleshing out the friendships they start.

 

 

I wonder if "a little could go a long way" with the family who's regular schedule is different from yours. Could you invite that family over for dinner once a month so the kids could play? Offer to do a "date swap" once or twice a month with the other family where you watch their kids one time while those parents go out and the next time they watch your kids? (Double bonus -- the kids get to play while each couple gets a night out every now and then)? Could you once or twice a month do a different schedule (have your DD do a shorter school day or do extra work the other days of the week) so she could play with her friend for a couple hours before they start school? Maybe if you are willing to go out of your way to change your schedule once a month, the other family would go out of their way to change their schedule once a month (aka they could set their alarm and get up earlier that one day or whatever).

 

We have good friends who basically school opposite of us time-wise, and we have done all of those things at different times (not all at once, but at various times). I find that my DD feels more connected to her friends if we even see them even once a month more. Another thing my DD does with a few of her close friends that live within walking distance is they write each other notes and slip them in each others doors/mailboxes. Sometimes they write a note to each other every day! I end up reading all the notes DD writes (my DD wants me to check her spelling) so I don't worry that they are keeping some kind of secrets I wouldn't want them to keep...LOL! I even let my DD write notes and mail them to her friends that don't live within walking distance if she wants to...they don't write back as often, but it helps her to feel connected to those friends. Once they all learn to type, they will probably all be emailing each other. It's not the same as playing together every day, but at least they feel like they are hearing about what is going on in each other's lives. (The exciting things almost-nine-year-olds have to say, "Dear [friend], Guess what? I got a new dress for my doll. It is purple. We had cookies for dessert! Have a good night, your friend..." :lol:

 

Good luck...I actually find it easier to work around kids' schedules to go out of our way for kids to play together. My problem is finding grown-up friends to hang out with. I don't necessarily "connect" with all the other moms of the kids my friends are friends with...and who has time to find other grown-up friends? :laugh:

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How do we meet children who actually have time to be friends?

 

 

You won't like my answer.

 

When my kids were as young as yours, the majority of their friendships and their socializing time were built into extracurricular activities and, sometimes, a homeschool group.

 

In other words, my kids didn't miss spending time with friends in order to participate in activities. Instead, activities were where they saw their friends.

 

I guess, if outside-of-activities time were as important to me or my kids as it sounds like it is for you, I would have to consider changing up my family's own schedule (schooling when other families do so as to make my kids available to play when others are, taking breaks during the summer rather than schooling year-round, looking for scheduled activities that include more built-in social time, etc.).

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Those of you with booked schedules, do your kids pursue their friendships beyond the structure of activities?

 

Absolutely, but not until they reach a certain age.

 

I would say that, up until age 10 or 11, my kids were fine just socializing at activities and church and on a few special occasions throughout the year when adults would coordinate get-togethers. My son has always been the more social and extroverted of my two kids, and he actively sought out play opportunities with neighbors and whoever he could find. My daughter hated what we came to call "random kid time" and much preferred to be alone or hang out with the adults than to be expected to play with anyone other than the one or two kids whose company she specifically enjoyed.

 

Both stayed busy with structured activities from about age seven or eight. In addition to formal things like dance and drama classes, both of mine did a lot of children's and community theatre, a pursuit that tends to include a certain amount of hanging-out-and-waiting-for-it-to-be-your-turn-to-do-something time, which meant they had lots of opportunties to sit with other kids and chat or play hangman or tic-tac-toe or whatever.

 

And what we found was that it tended to be the kids that they ran into in more than one place or saw at multiple activities who crossed over into being "friends."

 

For example, my son is part of a close-knit group of four kids who've been tight for several years. The core of that group was formed by my son and one of the guys, whom we got to know when we started running into his family at both the homeschool group in which we were participating and at church. The boys, who were preschool aged at the time, started attending each other's birthday parties and having occasional playdates. They sang in the same choir for several years and have done several shows together, and here we are over 10 years later. In the intervening time, they picked up the other two kids. Nowadays, the four of them and whoever else is around have youth group and Sunday school at church, get together once or twice a month for something purely social and text/call/e-mail all. the. time.

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For those of you who do make friends in groups and maintain those friendships in a group setting, is it because you are extroverted? Most of our family is introverted--we meet people in groups but don't really get to know them there.

 

My dd is an extrovert, but the boys and I aren't. I think that's why the co-teaching gave me friends one at a time, and the kids got to 'test' out one family at a time in the afternoons. My current best friend and I knew each other a long time before we actually really got to know each other; our boys just didn't mesh til their late teens. :/ Most of our co-op families stuck with the group all the way through highschool, so the kids were together all the way.

 

Suggestions:

Maybe freeing up one morning (for the old friends) or perhaps an afternoon once or twice a month to have friends over. Your kids might be motivated to get that day's schoolwork done early to have that time with friends.

 

Set up that time as a Sports Day or Writing or Book Club or ??. My boys played hockey every winter (skates optional), and soccer, football, or whatever some parent set up for years. PE and social time. Sometimes YOU have to plan and set up the reason for the kids to get together. I started the sports days monthly here. Luckily a few other moms ran the hockey later. ;)

 

The greater area here has set up a monthly bowling day, monthly roller skating, chess club and other opportunities for all homeschoolers.

 

We got together with another family weekly for at least a month by having a poetry reading/Shakespeare intro time. We both pulled all our poetry books and let the kids take turn reading whatever poems they liked weekly. We covered the basics of Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet (with a movie + West Side Story video for contrast/compare). What would be something educational but fun to do with another family?

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Ah, this sounds tough- now I see what you mean. It really sounds as though the activities are not enough. I'd skip the park days with mostly toddlers too. Field trip groups may not meet that need either.

 

I'd seek out a homeschool group that meets for weekly park days and if I couldn't find one, I'd set one up and offer it to the homeschoolers in the area (it sounds like you have other hs in your area). I'd be willing to bet that others would like something like that too. Make it at the same time on the same day every week and others will start coming, I'm sure.

 

 

 

Agreed. I did exactly this. It took time...expect there to be no one there the first few times, but eventually word spread. Now my son has some great friends.

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We had a good day!

 

We invited over a young girl from church and her brother. THEY WERE AVAILABLE!! He's a bit older than my boys, but they played together well anyway.

 

They homeschool as well, so we were able to play from 2-5pm. It was so nice. My daughter was thrilled. "If I can't play with my best friend, E, very often anymore [about once a year], maybe I can have a second best friend that can play with me more." It was nice to see dd enjoying the company of someone she sees regularly, but hasn't been able to connect with outside of "context."

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My kids would be considered overbooked but not in multiple activities. The activities they are involved in take up a lot of their time. They have made their best friends in their respective activities because those are the people who share the same interests. We feel friendships are important and make time for them even when it isn't always easy.

 

Through the years we have had different families who meshed well with ours and we planned weekly get-togethers when my kids were young. Now my boys are older and in school and don't need any help finding friends but I still plan get togethers with a couple local girls for dd (one she sees about twice a month on a weekday evening and another we try to see every few weeks during the day on Fridays) and coordinate schedules so she can spend time with her friend who lives a couple states away. She has friends in her orchestra and they Skype during the week.

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