Socializing Woes - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 04-23-2013, 08:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Looking for a little wisdom here from those that have BTDT!


We have always been unschooling since we realized it is what works best for our twin girls (now 5.5). We never made a decision to do it, but followed their lead and went with what worked and then found the term, definition, etc. We don't really DO unschooling, but instead just live life and it feels extremely natural, never forced, and we all embrace the lifestyle. In fact, the way I can tell when we're barking up the wrong tree is when it does feel forced.


So, with that all said, I am still human and worry about my children! lol

The girls were saying they wanted to play with more children and generally were showing signs of really enjoying socializing (finally!) lol. So we signed us up for a local homeschooling co-op group where we can attend "classes." There are other unschoolers there too (a few) and some classes are not very structured (like yoga, lego club, spring discovery, etc). The problem is, being "go with the flow" unschoolers, we can't ever seem to actually get to these things on time! Sometimes we just completely miss the window to get out the door and miss it. The children are good at getting ready and going somewhere when it's "natural" - like running errands with no time-line or deadline. But they can't seem to ever get it together for something with a start time. I've even tried getting them started getting ready an hour or so ahead of time and the result is still a mad rush of stress in the last 10 minutes! It drives me nuts.


So, I'm trying to figure out the disconnect here. They have no problem getting ready to go somewhere "on the fly" or when it seems natural to do so, but they can't get somewhere scheduled that they really do want to go to (they say they do and are excited and cry when we miss out), but then get distracted and need CONSTANT reminders to stay on track. ???? SO CONFUSED (and frustrated). I can't think very straight when I'm frustrated...hence why I am posting for thoughts/clarity!


The other thought I've had is that it feels forced to "go play at 3pm" and so that's the problem, but then I freak out b/c we'll be back to where we were before which is not really socializing at all. We go out and all the kids are in school so they only interact with adults and toddlers! They are truly craving kids their own age range to play with. *sigh




Laura :)

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#2 of 10 Old 04-23-2013, 08:38 AM
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If they really are craving it, they will want to go and get ready. Perhaps they really aren't needing to play with their own age, and their current socialization with adults/toddlers is working okay. They already have a same age playmate built in at home. 


As far as if you really do want to get to co-op, what about just letting them know you're going to run errands. Plan your errands ahead of co-op time. You'll already be out. Then let them know it's time for co-op, would they like to go today? You will already be in the if they want to, it's easy to get there on time! 

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#3 of 10 Old 04-23-2013, 07:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Momsteader! Very wise advice :)

I'll talk to them about it and see which they want to do. Personally, I like the idea of running errand and "being out anyway" - I think they'll probably like the idea too, but we'll see! Like you said, if it means that much to them, then we'll make it happen!

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#4 of 10 Old 04-23-2013, 08:37 PM
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Something that has worked for me is to have them be responsible for when we leave.  They are right around the age when kids start to look at the clock and can understand some of it.  I let my kids know that I don't want to show up for something late as you will miss out on the opportunity for the complete experience.  I also explain that it isn't fun for me to be rushed at the last minute and all stressed out.  Going to the classes has to work for everyone.  I am completely willing to take them if they want to go but I can't have all of the responsibility on my plate.  I think this is a big part of unschooling.  We all take responsibility for the things that are important to us.  I explain to them a little about the clock.  Maybe let them know 1 hour ahead of the time you need to leave.  Explain that when the long hand is on the 9 is when you would need to leave in order to get there on time.  Tell them that if they want to go they will need to let you know when the hand is on the 9, and they need to be ready to walk out the door.  Let them know what they need to do before that dressed, whatever is necessary.  Then it is up to them.  They are responsible to keep an eye on the clock and plan accordingly.  Of course there will be times when it doesn't work...they get busy with something else or they say they want to go at the time you need to leave but they aren't dressed...a natural consequence would be that you couldn't go and would have to try again next time.  It is on them and you will know if what they are doing is more important than the class.


I have twins as well...6.5 years.  I find that they often play so well together that I don't seek out events as much as I did with my singleton daughter.  They have a built in friend and rarely ask to have someone over.  They enjoy being around other kids at classes.  When we are at the park they play with their friends and make new friends, but I think they often get their social needs met from each other.  Maybe your daughters are similar? 

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#5 of 10 Old 04-24-2013, 01:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Momsteader View Post

If they really are craving it, they will want to go and get ready. Perhaps they really aren't needing to play with their own age, and their current socialization with adults/toddlers is working okay. They already have a same age playmate built in at home. 


I agree. I've gotten to the point that I've told my son that until he starts getting ready to go I'm not going to start getting ready to go. Why should I do all the work for his outing? When he's started getting dressed, or whatever, then I can start packing snacks, etc.


More importantly, I'm trying not to stress about it. These activities are supposed to be fun. Me being frantic because we're late is not fun.


They're his activities. If he wants to go, he needs to get ready. If he prefers to play at home and be late, I should be okay with that.

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#6 of 10 Old 04-24-2013, 02:29 AM
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Can you work out for yourself why it is you want to go to the group? Is it because (for example) you feel the need for socialisation for yourself, you feel the need for socialisation for your kids, or that your kids are asking for socialisation?


I think I'd start by articulating that, first to myself. Work out exactly why you feel you need to do this. I always try to do this as a way to work out whether I really want to do something, or whether I'm kind of feeling like I ought to because that's the socially expected thing. Do your girls need to socialise? Do they need it yet ? Do you feel they need friendships apart from each other? Etc etc (no right answers of course!)


If you do all this and decide its actually important to you, I'd speak honestly to the girls. I'd say something like "Its really important to me that we get out of the house for this time, for reason xyz. What can we all do to achieve this? What would help you?". (this assumes that they are basically on board with going)


I think, by the way, its fair to say to them "Its important to me that we go to this group and give it a try. I am worried that if we don't, you won't learn to make friends. I don't have any experience of being homeschooled myself and I don't really know how it works with the whole making friends thing, so I'd really appreciate it if you'd humour me. " (say).  


Oh ETA I've been though this many times with regard to groups. I've become a lot more relaxed over the years-I started out believing that weekly group attendance should be the core of homeschooling and now we just go from time to time and mainly socialise outside groups. IME groups actually have a lot of the problems as well as benefits of any large group of kids, school included and bullying is certainly not unknown. When you are starting out though they can certainly be a great way to meet people.

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#7 of 10 Old 04-24-2013, 08:09 AM
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ETA:  My girls are 6.5 and 8.  


I finally put lists by the door for everything they need to get ready and the time we need to leave by.  They get used, too.  Sometimes, that is.  I have also pointed out that I am not going to fight them to get out the door.  I have a handful of exceptions: Girl Scouts, where I am a leader (with the keys, no less), riding lessons where we are the only students in that time slot, and the occasional day where I take them to a job with me.  Gymnastics?  Expensive, lots of kids in class and no one will miss us.  I will drop that in an instant.  And riding lessons can be dropped, just not without warning.  


Still 5.5 is still pretty young to be adept at managing their time.  Most of our activities are in the afternoon, and I start getting us ready first thing after breakfast.  Still, they have to be ready themselves and that can make things pretty frantic at the last minute.


BTW, we have searched for a HSing community we clicked with for several years, and what I have found that clicks best and the girls adore is Girl Scouts.  They are so thrilled to get out the door, I never have trouble getting them ready to go.  Yes, the girls are all in school (in this troop, anyway), but otherwise it is exactly what I was looking for : a doorway to expertise within the greater community, combined with some awesome play time, and the promise of high adventure.  They don't even zoom out the door for gymnastics or riding lessons so quickly!


My last point:  be careful with the errand-running.  I like the idea of "being out anyway", but too many errands can tip the balance.  That is our experience with Tuesday gym.  Unfortunately for us, we live where we live and simply must combine trips into town with other errands.  There is no getting around it, but we can keep them to a minimum.  The question yesterday was "why don't we ever go to a park on gym day?"  Well, because they choose to play at home until the last minute, that's why.  That's their choice.  I can do my bit, but they need to do theirs.

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#8 of 10 Old 04-24-2013, 08:26 AM
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It sounds to me like you may be giving them more responsibility for getting ready than they are ready to handle. Could you sit with them while they do whatever they need to do to get ready to go, so they can practice getting through their tasks in a reasonable amount of time with you there to help keep them on task for a while, and then pull back when they've got it down?


I would agree that if a 12 year old wasn't able to be ready to go on time, that's a sign s/he isn't that interested, but I'm not sure it's developmentally appropriate to put that kind of responsibility on the shoulders of 5.5 year olds. They may want very badly to go, but still have trouble planning how to be ready on time, and staying on task. Little kids do not have the same level of executive function big kids and adults do. 


Also consider what needs to be done for them to be ready to go, and move some of those tasks earlier in the day.  One of my kids is extremely sensitive about having her socks on just-so. We were constantly late until I started having her put her socks on an hour before we had to go anywhere. That way, she could take her time getting them on just the way she wanted without making everyone late.  It made everyone less stressed. Also we get dressed in the morning, instead of waiting until we *need* to be dressed, because if we wait, then it makes getting out the door too darn hard. 

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#9 of 10 Old 04-24-2013, 08:45 AM
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I had the same problem with my son. He truly wanted to be part of the group, and equally wanted to do what he was doing at home when it was time to go. Looking back, I think his problem was a matter of priorities. On a scale of 1-10, attending the group activity was generally a 6, but his current activity might be a 7 to him. That would mean missing the activity, but then he was disappointed later that he hadn't been able to do both! Both priorities were close to each other in importance. Hence the problem. The solution? I didn't find one when he was young. When he was older, he understood prioritizing better, and felt more comfortable with his choices, which meant putting aside the 7 project (then returning to it later) for the 6 activity with the set time. So my suggestion is to let maturity take care of this one.
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#10 of 10 Old 04-26-2013, 06:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all your wonderful responses!


I wanted to give an update. Yesterday was a group activity in the morning that they agreed they really wanted to go to, so we didn't do the "get out beforehand doing errands" type thing being we're late risers. We have an analog clock and I drew out where the hands were going to be when we had to leave to get there on time and then put it at the current time and moved it ahead every 3-5 minutes as I remembered and pointed out to them when I did. I also helped keep them on track. It was cute because when I said, we should start getting ready so we're not late, what could we do while the food cooks in the oven? The answer was, "Play?" hehe

I think those who said they just don't have an understanding of time, prioritizing, and resource/time-management are on the right track. We got there 3 minutes late and ahead of everyone else, so it worked, but it was quite stressful. I imagine it will get easier as they develop those skills though!


I'll read through more responses and try some more things out and report back soon!


Today we have a family yoga opportunity, which 2 weeks ago was a complete fail due to the instructor being a bearded *sigh eyesroll.gif

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