Staying Connected with Family Near and Far
August 10, 2022 | Kari Mellone
There are so many ways to utilize technology to ensure we stay close and connected to loved ones who are away. Video Chats and Zoom events have become rituals for families with time zone challenges. These meetings are free on popular platforms and devices, and as such, they are ideal for multi-generational get-togethers. You can stay present with extended and immediate families with a little planning and practice.
Virtual meetings can reinforce relationships beyond the nuclear family for younger children who live far from relatives such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Even from afar, love and care from family can add an exciting dimension to their world.
Stay Connected with Fun Virtual Activities
Connect with favorite activities, games, and puzzle challenges. For instance, Tabletopia is a platform where you can play checkers or chess; challenge each other on Wordle or Words with Friends.
Consider kids’ ages and what they will remember and engage in. Start with reading and singing to young toddlers and babies. There is a real impact of a favorite song or a book coming from Grandma and Grandpa’s voices.
For an extra special reading session, use photo publishing software to customize and self-publish “Our Family and You” or “The Day You Were Born.” Send them their own copy of the book, or videos of your music, stories, and hobbies.
Welcome Family into Your World
Combined with care packages and other shared pastimes or hobbies, toddlers and elementary-aged students can get to know Grandma’s garden, or Grandpa’s fishing secrets through pre-recorded videos.
Give a tour of some of the rooms of your home, yard, or neighborhood park.
A scavenger hunt that you watch in real time, can be arranged with items in a care package hidden in advance of the call by Mom or Dad.
Show pets or hold a family joke-telling session. Consider a freeze dance, karaoke, and music mash-up, for teens.
Staying Virtually Connected at In-Person Gatherings
When your greater family decides to ramp up for an “all hands-on deck” in-person reunion, those with geographically challenged families can step up to help everyone else in the family connect.
Make part of a reunion a happy hour with tablets and phone, where devices can be passed around, allowing the missing relatives to connect with those who are there. For two of the remotes to talk with each other, putting screens together should also work. Mind the timing for everyone’s benefit and keep the happy hour close to another outing or meal, so there’s a natural ending.
When planning large reunions, consider the geographies. It can be helpful for all to meet in the middle, perhaps at a state park or similar accessible location.
Also, consider communication preferences when you begin setting dates and polling your family for best timing and locations. Many Millennials do not appreciate long emails that Boomers and some Gen Xers use to start organizing. Thoughtfully deploy various outreach, including social media, when you are getting started. Recruit members of each age group in your planning team.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Your family will reap relationship rewards with the practice and persistence in virtual communications.
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