Last night my local homeschool group dedicated a portion of our monthly meeting to a “resources swap.” Similar to a curriculum/book swap or clothing swap, the idea was for moms to bring one or more favorite resources to share with the rest of the group — from local contacts and treasured business finds to favorite online helpers and sources for discounts and freebies.
I am pretty sure I’m not the only one who had never attended a resources swap, because only a few moms were prepared to share. However, once we got going and the concept was more clear, the “light blubs” came on and everyone began sharing their favorite homeschooling and family resources, both local and online.
One mom who excels at resale/yard sale shopping handed out a brochure from ShopResaleDenver.com that lists all the resale shops in the area. She highlighted her personal favorites, shared some of her resale and yard sale shopping strategies, and told us about some of her best purchases. She even wore an outfit almost entirely put together from quality and designer bargain finds from different stores — including a $5 beautifully embroidered “dressy casual” coat! I had no idea our area had so many good places to shop resale.
Several moms shared the best sources for used and free books and curriculum they’ve discovered over the years, including which neighborhood yard sales they tend to find the most curriculum available. I am personally excited about this information, because I get easily overwhelmed by the abundance of yard sales and so many neighborhood-specific weekends that you have to plan for. At least now I have a place to start!
One mom shared the contact information for a music teacher she knows that has been doing an excellent job with her once-reluctant children, who are now flourishing in music. Other valuable contacts shared included an informal in-home weekly exercise group, a health & nutrition consultant that teaches hands-on classes for making natural body products, a source for receiving local restaurant deals via email, favorite time-saving cookbooks and educational tools that can be checked out free at our library, and more. The best part was discovering how many great resources are out there that most of us just didn’t know about yet.
It occurred to me that yes, this type of resources swap might be easily coordinated online via a forum on your support group’s Web site, Facebook, or some other free group tool online (such as Google groups). In fact, as my group’s Web administrator, I may set up a resources forum section for exactly that. However, I think there was a lot of value (and time saved browsing online!) to simply getting together to chat for an hour and actually hand out physical resources (such as discount cards, brochures, books, etc.).
For example, having the input of multiple moms who chimed in on a particular resource that several had experience with provided a variety of perspectives. Being able to ask questions, get several opinions, compare prices of programs, and immediately jot down what “clicks” for you in the moment — all of this interaction made the time spent extremely valuable and productive.
I walked away with more than a handful of tips and contacts that I plan to tap into right away. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy some productive and fun social time with other moms? I think the Moms Resources Swap could easily be a quarterly addition to any moms group or homeschooling support group you are in — or host one with your own network of mama friends.
Have you ever been to a resources swap? Or is this concept new to you too? Would you rather do something like this online, or do you think getting together is part of what makes it valuable? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this tip!