By Kerrie McLoughlin
The “new normal” can be disorienting and frustrating at times. Your kids have friends who they have only seen physically from the end of their driveway. Your parents have been staying inside since the COVID-19 crisis began, and your kids miss seeing Nana and Poppy in person. Meetings, camps, and schools are taking place in front of a screen – and it could continue through the end of the year or longer.
This is no time to despair! At first, my kids were super sad about not being able to do as many social things in person, but soon they got busy and crafty (oh, the lovely paintings hanging on my walls!) while also finding creative ways to keep in touch with friends and family. Check out some of these ideas!
The Drive-By Birthday Celebration. Make sure your child’s birthday is recognized while you all stay safe and healthy. Secretly organize a group of friends to meet at a close-by location (like a mall parking lot), and then they can caravan by your house honking and waving balloons and streamers. Friends and family can drop a gift or card by, but remind them to make sure it is non-perishable, which can be set aside for up to 72 hours if you hard-core need to avoid germs (elderly family member living in your home, immuno-compromised, etc.).
The Social Distancing Playdate. Unfold those comfy camping chairs on the driveway or in the yard for some six-feet-apart chat sessions. We do short visits when we are out and about to drop something off or pick something up at my girlfriend’s house, and the kids also get to give each other some shout-outs from afar. Consider coming together for a book club for kids or a sewing/knitting circle. Melissa R., mom of three, says they do “meet-ups at local creeks. With neighbors, they play outside, distanced with FaceTime going so they don’t have to yell across the spaces. In the fall, we will continue much the same. We try to get a group together of similar risk tolerance levels for outdoor activities.”
Video Chatting. Cathie Maschler, mom of four, says, “My kids are staying in contact with friends through Zoom meetings, and FaceTime chats mostly.” Don’t forget about Skype, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and any other supervised way kids can connect “face to face.” This is easier for my teens, who have their own phones. The other three kids take turns using my phone for their social visits, and I appreciate the screen break for myself. My daughter does origami tutorials with her friend after another friend has taught her some new things to make. Katie D., mom of four, shares that they “visit with friends electronically while they craft, watch a show, or exercise.”
Snail Mail. Now is the time to send those things made in the sewing circle and during the video socializing tutorial sessions to the grandparents and other friends and relatives! Old-fashioned letters and surprises in the mail are such a treat! One of my daughters went nuts with 12×12 blank canvases and painted pictures for her grandparents, which I will be popping in the mail or dropping on their porches.
Words. Texting, emailing, blogging, oh my! There are so many ways to stay in touch without touching. Bonus: it helps them practice reading, writing, grammar, graphics, editing, and typing skills.
The Marco Polo App! Check out the Marco Polo app for a FaceTime-meets-voicemail experience, where you get to leave and receive video messages, and they don’t disappear. You can save them on Marco Polo indefinitely and save them to your phone, or forward them to other family members.
Online Activities. Melissa R. shares, “We are doing online summer camps, which are going well. Sleepovers, chats, and playdates with friends are all done virtually.” I know families who are continuing activities like ballet, Irish dance, and karate online – and loving it!