Tips to connect with family far away

9 April 2020

Tips to connect with family far away is needed more than ever. Not only do we have a new appreciation for the power of technology (Hello Zoom!), but now we have to think out of the box when it comes to staying connected in a meaningful way.

Here are our simple and practical ways to connect with loved ones not in our home:

Level up on your tech skills

If you’re intimidated by the thought of new technology and aren’t sure how to navigate a Zoom call or Facetime, now is the time to brush up on your skills. Not only do you not want to be that person who doesn’t mute themselves during a work meeting, but by brushing up on the capabilities of each platform, you’ll equip everyone for much more pain-free family chats. Plus, you’ll be more comfortable and relaxed connecting in this “new normal” way.

There are a host of easy and quick tutorials showing you how to use Zoom, Skype, Facetime and similar. If you can only see the top of gran or grandad’s heads in every call, show them virtually (share your screen) how to position their camera correctly and other tips to empower them to feel comfortable with the technology.

Turn your routines into a digital one

Once the whole family is clued up on the difference between Zoom and WhatsApp video calling, incorporate technology into daily life. You don’t always have to set aside 40 minutes to sit down at the kitchen table for a virtual catch up.

Think of how you’d usually connect and tailor the technology around that. For example, if walks around your neighbourhood was ‘your thing’ to do together, haul out the exercise mat and keep up the fitness doing a virtual exercise class together. If you loved grabbing a cuppa together, catch up over your morning coffee. You can even enjoy meals together and do hobbies together. Enjoy virtual gaming sessions and quiz nights. Think of turning on Zoom or Facetime when the kids are baking, reading a bedtime story or watch the same movie at the same time.

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Best of all, you can even use these platforms as a virtual babysitter (pop on your friend or gran to ‘babysit’) when you need a moment of silence with a cup of tea.

Here are some ways you can use technology to connect:

• Send a voice or video note on a messaging app.
• Schedule a virtual chat on Skype, Zoom or Facetime.
• Send pics of what you’re doing throughout the day.
• Challenge each other to make fun photos or videos (just Google photo challenges!)

Take it old school

While we have to use technology to communicate (smoke signals aren’t going to work for anyone), we can embrace the digital-less too. Take the time to write (yes, handwrite) letters to family and friends. For now, take a pic of the letter when written and chat it to them virtually. Not only will it brighten their day, but when things are back to ‘normal,’ they can look forward to receiving the letter in the post.

Take the time to print and organise your holiday photos into albums, virtually or physically. You can share the finished result via Zoom and show family and friends the results of your labour while taking a journey down memory lane.

Use this extra time to brainstorm your next holiday or the first thing you’re going to eat or do when you see each other next in person. This project is an excellent way to boost morale, keep those spirits up and ensure you have something to look forward to. In short, it’s finding that silver lining on every cloud.

Gamify everything

From doing the chores to settling “I’m bored, Mom” and reconnecting with your bestie across the road, think of the lockdown period as a challenge. An opportunity to challenge how you usually connect and up the creativity stakes.

Having something to look forward to really helps as well. Use the time to dream and plan your next holiday or catch up session. It will keep you going and ensure that you emerge from lockdown not only organised but ready to take on the world. 

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