As we become more and more of a global society, families will continue to be scattered across the world. My children’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins live in 6 different states. And beyond that, many of our relatives live in different countries.
This changes the dynamic quite a bit when you are raising a family and still want to keep everyone involved in your children’s lives.
Here is how we’ve been doing it:
- Use a video conferencing application
Currently, we use Facetime because it’s so easy to do straight on your phone and most of our family members have iPhones. For those that don’t, we use Skype, which is also great for connecting via video.
It is so helpful for our kids to be able to see who they are talking with on video, instead of just a phone call with audio. This way they can easily connect the voice with the face. And it’s always fun for them to get to see what is going on at the other person’s house, interact with pets, etc.
- Send out regular updates
Since the kids were born, I have sent out an email update about their progress. Typical things I include are height, weight, firsts (first time doing something), favorites (food, toys, books, shows), new words & sayings, motor skills, communication skills, comprehension skills, play skills, and cute stories.
I do this with email, but there are so many ways to do it now. On Facebook, you could create a family and friends distribution list or even create a completely separate family and friends group.
- Make sharable gift lists
When people aren’t able to interact with your kids every day, it is often hard for them to know what to buy for your kids. We always get asked what do the kids need and want, and it’s hard to parse out ideas and remember who is taking care of what.
We solve this by using Amazon’s wish list feature. This is a great free service where you can specifically list all of the items you want for your kids. There is even a desktop widget you can download that allows non-Amazon items to be added. Two huge pluses for this service are that when items are purchased they are hidden from the list (avoiding duplication of gifts) and the purchaser has the option to send the items directly to the preloaded address (very similar to their baby registry, which I also loved).
- Use video sharing platforms
I use video sharing if I want to convey something more than a picture. Due to the size of videos it can be harder to share via email or text, so I typically upload videos to my private Youtube channel. If you do this with videos of your children, you definitely want to explore the different privacy settings. I have mine set to unlisted so that random people won’t find my videos in search, you can only access with a direct link.
I typically include a video with my updates (see above), but I also like to share videos of my children opening their gifts, or any special events that family member couldn’t attend.
There are lots of different ways to engage with family even if they live far away. It definitely takes extra work to manage these additional communications, but I love seeing my children being able to connect with people that are important to us.
How do you connect with your long-distance family? Do you use any other applications to stay connected?
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