There are times when your family may be apart for the holidays. It could be due to work, botched travel plans, or another plot device for a holiday movie. No matter the reason, family members being apart for the holidays can be hard. Here are seven ways you can stay connected even when you’re apart.
1. Use Smart Tech
One of the worst things about your family being apart is not being able to see their faces. You miss the smiles, the laughter, the reminiscing ó everything. It can be painful to miss important events and family milestones. But itís no longer all or nothing when it comes to staying connected. Thankfully, one of the beauties of the modern world is that itís easier than ever to stay in touch.
Video call technology has revolutionized the way that families stay connected, and there are numerous apps and devices available. To encourage your children to stay connected with family, a safe phone for kids could be a great option. It doesnít offer video calls or connect to the internet to keep them safe. However, it allows them to keep in touch with unlimited calls and texts. Setting up a family group chat can be a great way to stay connected and include everyone.
2. Schedule Time to Talk
Although this new technology is incredible, itís not without its issues. One of the most frequent problems youíll encounter is actually trying to get everyone together on a call. It can be easy to call one person at a time and have a nice chat, but rounding up everyone can be a challenge. So itís important to make sure you schedule a time to actually meet together.
Keep in mind that everyoneís schedules are busy these days, even your kids. Find a time that works for everyone to meet, and hold everyone accountable for making it a priority. If itís not prioritized, itís easy for digital meetings to slip by the wayside. And once youíre on the same call, thereís so much you can do together.
3. Cook and Eat a Virtual Dinner
Sharing dinner is a staple of healthy family life. Families who eat together more often experience a stronger sense of social bonding. So sharing dinner, even virtually, is one of the best ways to keep your family ties strong while you’re apart.
You donít have to limit the dinner to just eating either ó have everyone join a call while preparing dinner. Place your screens in a good location where everyone can see each other and what theyíre preparing. It can be fun to compare meal prep and cooking methods, talking and joking all the while. This emulates being together and can generate feelings of closeness. You can also plan to prepare and eat the same meal ahead of time to reinforce that feeling of togetherness.
4. Start a Book Club
Another activity for video calling is discussing an ongoing shared experience like reading a book. Starting a book club with your family is great because it will give you something to talk about when you meet. And while youíre apart, family members can wonder what everyone else will think about the reading, curious for the next conversation.
Book clubs are also sneaky ways to keep your family learning. Books naturally stimulate the mind and increase the brainís capacity for complex, critical thought. Some books are also just plain fun, hilarious, and valuable in their own right. Itís also a great way for your family to learn more about each other. Take turns crowdsourcing book suggestions from your family so everyone gets to read something theyíre interested in.
5. Play Online Games
Video calls can be a fun and great way to connect with your family. But sometimes thereís only so much to talk about, and you need something to actually do. People have been playing games forever, but online video games allow you to play together regardless of location. Just like books, there are so many different kinds of games to play ó there really is something for everyone.
Want some fast-paced action? Play a shooter. More of a thinking family? Work together on a real-time city-builder or other real-time strategy game. It might be too soon, but Pandemic is a great strategy game that can be played in-person or online. There are also tons of party games that are easy to pick up and play for family members of any age.
6. Send Photos
Connecting live can be wonderful, but itís just not possible to video call all the time. This is especially true of families with members in different time zones. Thatís why itís also important to also send messages asynchronously.
Text messages are great, but sharing photos can be even better. Like a video call, photo sharing allows your family to feel closer by seeing what everyoneís up to during their day. It gives a sense of closeness without requiring everyone to be together at the same time. This is especially true for families whose members are always on the go.
7. Send Snail Mail
It may not be your first thought, but snail mail using the postal service is an incredible way to stay connected. No, it doesnít allow you the convenience or luxury of being able to talk with someone immediately. But thereís a small, yet incredible, nugget of joy that comes with receiving something in the mail.
With snail mail, you never really know what youíre going to get. So thereís a sense of anticipation and excitement when something arrives. Written letters are also a great way to express true feelings, and they can serve as a time-capsule for memories. Your family can also mail holiday gifts to each other and open them together on a video call. Snail mail is a tried and true, underrated method for families to stay in touch.
Make Family a Priority
No matter how you go about connecting with your family during the holidays, make it a priority. Not just for yourself, but for everyone. Ask your family how theyíd like to keep in touch and suggest some ideas to see what people think. With everyone on board, your family may feel a bit closer even if youíre far apart for the holidays.
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