Whether you're an introvert like me who enjoys being on their own, or a complete extrovert who just can't do without a coffee-shop meet up with friends, loneliness can easily infiltrate your homeschooling environment, so it is important to ensure you take small steps before it becomes a big problem.
More often than not, only one parent will be in charge of homeschooling whilst the other works. There may be couples who are doing it together, but this post applies to them just as much as to those going it alone. If your child has never been to a mainstream school, you will have likely never experienced the school gate gossip. The opportunity for parents to get together before the bell rings, to natter and swap stories. Some even head off for coffee after the school run to continue their trade of anecdotes. Losing this network of like-minded peers can be difficult. Personally, I never really enjoyed the school ground chats but for some, it's a chance to rant, and to feel like they aren't alone.
If you've always enjoyed catching up with other parents at the school gates, there's no reason you can't continue your links with these same people. You just need to make the effort. Be brave, reach out and invite those you once chatted to, round for coffee or perhaps a day trip when their children are out of term. I've tried to keep in touch with at least a couple of the parents of my children's friends so that my boys can have sleepovers and get together with the friends they used to enjoy playing with. It is all too easy to let these connections slip out of our grasp, but if you can, keep them going.
If you've never experienced the school gate catch-up, it is important to make connections in other ways. It's all too easy to tell yourself that you are fine and will never need anyone else, but homeschooling can get hard sometimes and if it does, you can easily fall into an unmotivated headspace where you stop making the effort to teach your children anything at all. Find a local home ed meet-up group and make the effort to attend. If you struggle to speak to people, don't worry, most of the time your children will do the hard-work for you, making friends and asking for you to swap numbers with their parents, giving you an easy way in. Home Ed Info has a list of all the homeschooling groups across the UK. Most of the time you will find a Whatsapp group to become part of. Just being involved with the chat on one of those can help you to feel less lonely.
Follow homeschooling social media channels to see what others are doing and to strike up conversations. You can follow me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/hogwarts.and.all.homeschool/ and by checking out my followers and who I'm following, you can make more connections. Please be careful though, social media posts can be deceiving seeing as though people tend to share the best part of themselves and not the daily struggles they endure.
If you're co-teaching with your partner, I still think it is important to make connections via home-ed meet up groups because let's be honest, sometimes our partners really annoy us, and having someone else to talk to, share your concerns or successes with can be truly refreshing and help us to gain a perspective our partners are not always able to do.
Another way to combat loneliness is to make sure your children attend the extra-curricular activities they enjoy. Whether it's Beavers, swimming, or karate, don't just drop them and go. Make the effort to chat to other parents and don't feel as though because you home school and they don't, you will have nothing in common. In actual fact, it can be an enriching experience to talk to the parent of a traditionally schooled child and for them to hear about what you get up to.
It's all about making an effort and being brave, sometimes, stepping outside of your comfort zone. Once you do it, it will get easier and you will be thankful that you did.