I get asked pretty frequently, “How do your kids socialize when you are on the road all the time?”
I understand the heart of this question, but honestly… it’s the wrong one to ask me. My kids are 6, 4, and 2 years old. They are friends with each other and are not quite old enough yet to really care much for lasting friendships outside our family. I know this will change with time, as they form separate interests and develop more independence, but right now, the question you should be asking is, “Mama, how are YOU socializing while on the road?”
Life on the road is hard on an extrovert like me. I crave connection and I LOVE to talk… like LOVE it to the point that my husband has resigned himself to the fact that he may not go to sleep until I have emptied my brain verbally of all my thoughts. It can be a bit much for him, since he is more introverted. I’m around my children all day and, while they are getting older and becoming more fun to talk to, they are not exactly what I am looking for in a friend.
Top friend requirements being: 1) Does not ask me to wipe her bum. 2) Does not interrupt my heart-felt story with something like, “Where do birds keep their penises?”
So what’s a girl to do?
Well, here’s what I’ve been doing lately… Warning: This advice is for fellow extroverts. If you are an introvert reading this, you may start having heart-palpitations. Fear not, you do not have to implement all my strategies to have a full life. Pick and choose what resonates with you and ditch the rest.
My top 3 strategies for making friends on the road:
I look for opportunities to talk with other women. At the playground, after church, or in line at the grocery store… I LOOK for opportunities to chat. Ladies, if you are lonely, stop looking at your phone all the BLEEPING time. I don’t mean to be harsh, but dang it… We can not simultaneously wish for more friends while pushing everyone away with our body language. Now, this is not an indictment on anyone on their phone in public. Goodness knows we mamas need time to relax, listen to a podcast or whatever. I’m just saying, if you are hungry for friendships, take a look around you. There are women everywhere and a smile or a compliment can open up the doors to a friendship.
I try to keep up with the friends I have back “home.” Spoiler alert: I am a huge fan of talking on the phone (introverts groan)… But seriously, I love keeping up with my friends as close to in-person as possible. And for me, nothing feels better than sitting down with a cup of tea and chatting with one of my bestie while the kids nap, I mean tear the RV to pieces. However, this is a luxury that is fading as my kids get older. So, I’ve been using an app called Marco Polo to keep up with friends. The beauty of this app is that it’s like a video walkie-talkie. You leave your friend a video message (it can be as long as you want… which can be a good or bad thing, depending on how much your friend rambles), and she can respond with her own message whenever it’s convenient for her. I love it because I can chat up my friends in the middle of their work day or while I’m cooking dinner and they can watch at their convenience.
I make friends on Facebook. I know, I know… this sounds like a t-shirt you would make for a total loser, but it’s true and I’m not ashamed. As a stay-at-home mom, there is only so far my social reach can go. Add to that the fact that we move around constantly, and you can see why I do rely on social media for mom-friends. Now some of you are thinking, “Yeah, but Facebook friends aren’t REAL friends.” I will beg to differ. I have met several women through Facebook that I have actually hung out with in person. We chat about our problems and even pray for each other. I have had many women share their deep hurts and desires with me, even though we have never met in person. You might be wondering how I find these friends. Well, it’s pretty simple. I have a few groups that I am a part of, like Full-Time RV Families. I socialize in those groups and become friends with the women that are funny, outgoing or just really interesting. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how fulfilling these relationships can be.
If you are a lonely mama, on the road or not, know that I have been there. I have been the one sitting alone in the RV, wishing a fun neighbor would move in next door. If you are a member of the lonely mamas club, know there is room in my heart for you too. Reach out to me on Facebook. Let’s be friends!