5 Ways to Stay Connected to Loved Ones Far Away
Updated: May 23
While the idea of Utopia might be all of your friends and family members within walking distance of each other that isn't the reality for most of us. Many of your friends and family could be several hours, states, or even oceans away. How do you stay present in the lives of your friends and family with such distance between you? Here are 5 easy ways you can stay present in the lives of those you love.
1) Marco Polo - Facetime is great but we aren't always in the place to take or make a call. Marco Polo is a free video exchange service that stores videos on the cloud (so it doesn't take up space on the phone's memory). You can record quick videos or longer videos (such as reading a story). Get one with your best friends to send closed-loop messages to each other. It's only by invitation so no one outside the group will see your videos. The interface is fun and easy to use.
This allows you to exchange daily updates with a closed group of chosen friends and family. You will get to see clips from your nephew's baseball game, your nieces dancing in the living room to The Lion King, or your best friend's face as she dishes out the latest tea. The videos are all saved in the cloud and you can even give the video an emoji response. You will love this daily dose of love and connection.
2) Like Items - A physical representation of your friends and family surrounds your day with tangible reminders of your loved ones and vice versa. Matching stuffed animals with your grandchildren or nieces and nephews. Something you can hold up to the camera when you chat with them. It alerts them that this like item is a connection to you. When you call, hold your item up to the screen and watch as they light up and run to retrieve the item that is its mate. For friends or older family members, the matched items can be more fluid. A matching pair of silk scarves that you bought together on your girls' trip to Paris. Jewelry that holds a sparkle of your friendship in the metal. Matching outfits that you can adorn a little bit of their essence in your everyday. Perhaps even make a rule that every time a matching item is worn you send your loved one a picture of you in the outfit or item. A ritual of friendship and love that will always bring a smile of love and recognition.
Example of matching watermelon dresses for Auntie Coco and her niece Alice sown with love from grandma. This is a triple win because it reminds you of the Grandma that put the time and love into sowing these masterpieces and a dual connection for the ones wearing it.
3) Facebook Portal - Have you ever wondered what it is like to star on your own reality tv show? Facebook portal creates that reality with the Facebook portal. This little rectangle looks like a digital picture frame when not in use but is equipped with Amazon Alexa, Spotify, and Zoom. The camera technology is fantastic and follows sound and movement to keep you in the frame when you are moving around the room. It zooms in on those speaking so you can follow the action. The best part is that because it's voice-activated even young children can tell it to "Call Grandma or Call Auntie Coco". This device allows you to have dinner with your family thousands of miles away, cook a holiday dinner with your mother who lives on a different continent, or even host a movie watch party with your best girlfriends.
4) Physical Packages - With all of the digital innovations that have been developed over the years (including the ones listed above) there is still magic to getting traditional snail mail. For 63 cents (as of 2023) you can literally send a smile, a hug, and a representation of love and friendship. Try and find as many reasons to send these as possible. With young children, there is always a reason to celebrate. Go to the dollar store and get cards for Easter, Halloween, St. Patricks's Day, 4th of July, etc. They love receiving anything in the mail. Their world is still being built and these signals from the outside that they are being thought of
and loved makes a huge difference.
Encourage your children who can to write letters back to their friends and family. Some of the best cards I have ever received are scribbles inside a handmade card from my nieces. Encourage this behavior by getting them a children's stationary set complete with mermaid magic and stickers galore.
5) Dedicated Dates - Friendships are hard to maintain over the years. When you aren't running into each other at the water cooler or able to make weekly girl's nights a priority it
can be hard to stay in a regular cadence. Plan dedicated dates to ensure you all get that time. Have a Facetime, phone call, or portal call once a month. Schedule a coffee talk with your bestie at 8 am while you are on your commute or just starting your day. Decide that every 3rd Tuesday of the month you are going to have a cocktail hour with your two besties where you raise a glass and spill the tea. For those tiny beings in your life consider a weekly story time. Something that works with their nap or school schedule. A storytime where you can read a book together over a video call. Children are still developing their sense of time. Having markers in their week like "Storytime with Auntie Coco on Wednesdays at 11 am" gives them a sense of time and a point of connection.
It is difficult to consistently be away from those we love. Use these 5 tips to help establish and cultivate that connection so that your bond grows stronger despite the distance.