Coming Together from a Distance
With all of the recent developments, it’s easy to feel alone. We’re being told to “isolate” and remain “distant,” so of course, feeling alone comes with that. Does that mean that we’re doomed to feel that way for as long as this thing lasts? Of course not. There’s a difference between physical and emotional isolation. Even the idea of “social distancing” doesn’t rule out opportunities to be social. All it means is that we need to be more creative and more intentional about how we connect and socialize, all while prioritizing safety. This is especially important for our kids, whose social lives mean so much to them and can be a great source of comfort and assurance in an otherwise confusing and stressful time.
How to Stay Social While Social Distancing
One unsettling possibility of isolating for safety is that our children will retreat into technology at unhealthy levels. Thoughts of screen time plague you. You’ve probably found it a lot harder to keep your kids off of their phones and computers and video games because they feel like they don’t have anything else to do. Maybe you had rules or parameters for technology and social media use before the virus, and you feel like those are unrealistic now. First, remember to go easy on yourself and on your kids. Tensions are high, and with all the uncertainty, it can feel like the next fight is always right around the corner. However, when circumstances change, expectations are allowed to change as well. Like we said before, sometimes, that just means we need to be a little more creative with how we structure our time, including how we socialize and connect with the people we care about. Here are some ideas to help your kids connect with their friends—all while staying safe from physical interaction and dangerous technology:
1. Pen Pals
Revisit a simpler time by encouraging your kids to write letters to their friends and family. Writing with pen and paper is a great way to practice mindfulness and focus, and it allows your kids to really think about what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. Younger kids can also draw pictures and include stickers or other fun small trinkets. They’ll get to experience the excitement and anticipation of waiting to receive something in the mailbox with their name on it. This is a fun way to help friends and family feel special and close, and it has the added bonus of being a great way to kill time. No one can write as fast as they text!
2. Care Packages
In areas where it’s allowed, dropping off a package at a loved one’s house is an excellent way to show thoughtfulness and creativity. You can include favorite treats and games, or maybe a new book or magazine. Kids can spend time decorating the inside of the box with markers and colored paper, including various elements that they know the recipient would enjoy. If hygiene is a concern, you can assemble your package wearing gloves, or even include some antibacterial wipes in the package itself so they can disinfect the contents to their satisfaction. If your child is preparing a package for one of their friends, a nice gesture would be to include something in it for the friend’s parents and siblings. Everyone’s going through this right now, and everyone could use a little pick-me-up.
3. Drive-Thru Date
You need to get out of the house eventually, and maybe you don’t feel like having ramen for the fifth time this week. One fun option could be to coordinate with some of your kids friends or family to get dinner together all while staying outside of six feet of each other. Take your family through your favorite drive-thru and have their friend’s parents do the same. Then park your cars with an empty space between you, roll down the windows and eat your meals at a safe distance! You can turn on some music, enjoy conversations, and even watch a movie “together” by playing them at the same time in your respective vehicles. Skip preparing a meal, enjoy some fresh air, see your friends and stay safe!
4. Virtual Game Night
While it can be troublesome, technology also offers a number of great ways for us to stay in touch and enjoy each other’s company. For instance, you can help your kids set up a video call with their friends or with another family, then you can play games over that call. One option could be to play a board game one or both of you own and work together to move each other’s pieces. Another option would be to play word games or party games like charades. You can even include multiple devices in the call and you can have teams working together from the comfort of their respective homes. Your child can host a game night where their friends call in from various locations to play together. They can see each other and enjoy the feeling of a group setting, and there’s not the hassle of having to clean up after a crowd!
5. Disconnect to Connect
Despite how creative you get, you might meet some resistance from within your family. You might worry that you’ve got kids addicted to phones or gaming. The Internet already had the potential to be a bad and scary place, and now your children might be on it more than ever. Luckily, with Gabb’s safe phone for kids, the option to call or even text offers a more meaningful and human connection beyond what social media provides and without the negative effects. Gabb Founder Stephen Dalby explains, “We are not anti-social media, and we’re not anti-tech. We love tech. But the way that we’re introducing technology to kids right now, it’s not working.” He continues “Phones are meant to connect us to other humans and build meaningful relationships.” Kids even young ones feel the need to stay in touch with friends, and without school or physical interaction, their day-to-day options have become very limited. Your kids can call friends on the phone to talk, get help with homework, and their grandparents would love a chance to connect over a medium they’re more familiar with. Particularly for younger kids who don’t have a phone yet, now might be the time to consider getting them one. With a Gabb phone, kids can stay connected while staying safe, no parental controls needed, which makes life much better for mom and dad too.
Hopefully, there’s an idea in this post that can help kill some time and quell your quarantine quandary. While it’ll be better when it’s over, right now we’ve got a unique opportunity to connect more with our families and friends and put some intention behind our interactions. Get creative, keep your chin up, and try to interact with a little more patience and understanding. Your kids will follow your example, so show them what a little positivity can do. The best way through this is together, and you can help your kids come out stronger on the other side. Whatever you decide to do, remember to keep your family safe—physically and otherwise.