Connections are so important. As humans, we are built to connect relationally with the people around us. Some of the most important connections are those made between family members. But these can also be the most difficult connections.
One reason for the difficulty in maintaining familial connections is distance. Sometimes families don’t live close. And any amount of distance can be hard to tackle.
The distance can be tough on everyone, but it can be really tough on kids. With physical distance comes emotional distance. When family members finally reconnect, it can be a slow, awkward process.
The best way to overcome the physical and emotional distance many families feel is to minimize it as much as possible. The good news is there are tons of ways to encourage a lasting connection between kids and family members even when they are far away.
In the age of technology, there are apps and social media platforms that can be used to “see” and talk to distant family members. But there are a few “old-school” options, too. Never count out the tried and true family road trip. Just make sure you’re well prepared and understand the types of car insurance you might need.
The Importance of Staying Connected
Connection is important for people of all ages, but it’s most important for young children and teeangers. As children grow and develop, they need to be reassured that they are loved and cared for. Those relationships can help children beat loneliness.
That need gets even more important as a child approaches and walks through their teenage years. In fact, teenagers who feel secure in their connection have less anxiety and emotional distress and are less likely to use drugs and alcohol.
Those all important connections start at home and in the family. But if the closest family members live far away, it can be difficult to build and sustain those relationships. Fortantley, there are more than a few tips to help keep distant family members close.
Tips to Keep Kids Connected to Distant Relatives
With the hustle and bustle of life, it can be hard to find the time and energy to keep up family connections. Even when family members live a few miles away or the next town over, it can be hard to meet up regularly.
Obviously that connection gets more difficult the more miles there are between family members. So, no matter how far away you are from family, try a few of these tips to help build and maintain those all important family connections.
#1 – Set up Frequent Video Calls
The world is becoming smaller and more connected because of the development of social media platforms and different video call apps. The best way to stay connected with distant family is to set up, and stick to, frequent video calls.
Not only are you and your children able to talk to far away family members, everyone can see each other. And that visual addition only increases the feeling of connection.
#2 – Plan a Distance Movie or Game Night
You can take video calls a step further and make that next video call a movie or game night. Agree on a movie or board game and watch or play it together at the same time. These kinds of calls do take a little more planning, but these virtual interactions can make for some of the best memories.
#3 – Start a Virtual Book Club
If you have older children or bookworms, consider starting a book club. All you need is a book and an agreed-upon meeting time.
You, your children, and your family members decide on a book, read it, and connect over the shared love of reading. It’s a great way to build on shared interests and stay connected.
#4 – Create Shared Family Photo Albums
Sharing photos is a great way to stay connected and to close the physical gap. Even a picture of a “mundane” piece of daily life can brighten anyone’s day and keep family members involved in everyday life.
Photo sharing can be as simple as a shared album on a photo service. A few changes to your settings and all the members of the photo album can see any photos you take.
#5 – Send Connection Gifts
You can invest in some “connection gifts.” These gifts help facilitate interactions over long distances but are also fun. There are dozens of options, but each kind helps show children and family members they are being thought of.
These gifts can be simple, like a pair of lamps. One lamp is with your child and the other is with the family member far away. When the family member turns on their lamp, the lamp with your child lights up. It’s a sweet gesture that can make a big impact.
#6 – Start a Pen Pal Relationship
And of course, there are ways to stay connected without technology. You can always share letters and start a pen pal relationship. Have your child write letters or draw pictures to send to your family members.
Not only will this help everyone stay connected, but it adds an element of surprise to your day. It’s fun to check the mailbox and see if that next letter has arrived.
#7 – Send a Care Package
Like a pen pal, you and your child can send care packages to far away family members. Add in toys, games, treats, or silly jokes and pack it all up.
#8 – Plan a Road Trip
Nothing beats true face-to-face time. So after all the other means of connection and communication, plan a road trip to visit those distant family members. Get creative, too. You can visit the family members at their house or pick a completely different location to experience together.
These trips can be as frequent as you like. Maybe you want to set up a road trip every few months, or maybe these trips are meant to create joyful holiday memories. It’s all up to your family and your schedules.
Tips for Planning a Road Trip
When it is time for that family road trip, it’s important to be as prepared as possible.And the preparation is more than finding a location and a hotel.
When you’re planning a family road trip you’ll always want to make sure the car is as safe as possible. Get the vehicle checked out and fill up the gas tank. Then it’s time to double-check your car insurance and roadside assistance.
It may seem simple, but ensuring your vehicle is fully covered will give you that extra peace of mind. You’ll have more time to connect with family members and enjoy your time away, too.
So get connected. Plan that next road trip and look forward to hours of uninterrupted family time.
Laura Gunn writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, ExpertInsuranceReviews.com. She has family who lives out of state and is passionate about her children staying connected with their relatives.