The holidays are a wonderful time of year, usually full of friends and family. However, if you live far away from close friends and family, this time of year can be bittersweet. I know this first hand because a large portion of our extended family lives on the other side of the country and getting together on Thanksgiving doesn't happen often. Making sure that your children are able to connect and stay in touch with out of town friends and family now is important. Read on to learn my five favorite way to keep in touch and start planning for the upcoming holidays.
1. Video Chat
In this day and age, the quick and easiest way for children to connect with family and friends that live far away is by using video chat. With Skype, iChat, Facetime, and more there are plenty of ways to video chat, and it’s a great way for little ones to put a face to a voice. Grandma, Grandpa and other relatives will also be excited to see your child in action. Video chat is the next best thing to being together for the holidays.
2. Start a Traveling Journal
Journaling is an excellent way to keep children connected with members of their family that they don’t see often. This is a fantastic project for your child to do with a grandparent. To start, have your child write a letter to Grandma in a journal including hand drawn pictures and information about your child’s life right now such as a favorite food, toy, best friend etc. Wrap the package and send it off to Grandma. When she receives it, she will write back including anything fun that she wishes and mail the journal back to your child. Think of it as having a pen pal, except this pen pal is a super special family member. Relatives will enjoy this activity as much as your child.
3. Start a Family Website
A family website is a fun, inexpensive way to keep in touch with family – no matter where they live. You set up the website, give everyone in the family the username and password and upload photographs and share stories. This is an excellent project for older children who are interested in writing or web design. Your child can upload photographs of their most recent Thanksgiving art projects or them participating in their favorite activity. In turn, your child will see what other family members have been up to. This project is great because you can keep it going all year long and since the website can be private, you can share information and photographs that you wouldn’t share on other social networks.
4. A Photo is Worth a Thousand Words
Since we live very far away from most of our family, photographs are an essential part of staying in touch. I like to keep photographs of my son with his grandparents and cousins in places that he will see them. Some great places are on the lower shelves of your media center, next to the sink in your bathrooms or in your child’s bedroom. Another great option is to make a small photograph album that your child can tote around with them. My son likes to open the album and look at the photographs of his cousins and their pets, it makes him smile and reminds him of the fun times they have together when they are able to see each other.
5. Share a Hobby
My son is very interested in two things right now – motorcycles and art. His grandfather rides a Harley, makes quirky artwork and paints cars in his spare time. Even though my son and his grandfather only see each other a couple of times a year, their hobbies keep them connected. When my son sees a motorcycle on the road, he will say, “Grandpa can paint flames like the ones on that motorcycle!” or, “Do you think that Grandpa would like that motorcycle, because I do!” When my son is designing a new art project, he will save a piece for Grandpa to design when he visits. It’s a special bond when a child and grandparent enjoy the same activities and it makes their limited time together just a little more fun.
How do your children stay in touch with out of town family?
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