Attempting to keep in regular contact with the relatives can be challenging during the normal busy way of life but Covid-19 restrictions have made it even trickier.

Kids, grandparents, aunties, uncles…everyone could benefit from knowing a family member thought of them that day. How can we stay in touch and put a smile on the face of someone we love?

Video calls…often not a favourite BUT there are a number of ways to improve them, honestly!

Previously I required ample preparation time to gather all my strength to finally make that video call. I have primary school aged kids, one with additional needs and neither able to sit still for more than 3 minutes. Put into the mix a huge image of themselves and an electronic gadget responsive to the slightest touch, within seconds I can guarantee total mayhem and zero interaction (except for me using every persuasive incentive to stay on the call for just 1 more minute) - and I’m a qualified primary school teacher!

Fortunately I have now found, mainly through desperation, various strategies that have helped save my sanity when it comes to making video calls with the kids:

  • Get the kids active (preferably outside) but leave enough time to follow up with a few minutes of calm, then make the call.
  • Try only 1 child at a time and let the other sibling play in a different room. Let them know they will be speaking to the relatives straight after.
  • Show a time that they will be on the call for (sand timer/clock/stopwatch) and tell them that once that time is up they will swap places with their sibling.
  • Give them something small and silent to fidget with (reduces how much they fidget with the rest of their body or the device).
  • Prep your child with a focus/purpose for calling eg. ‘You could talk about the Lego structures you’ve made today and put the models here ready to show Granddad’.
  • Talk about your expectation eg. “You need to talk as clearly as you can and listen well, they will love listening to you. Once you have finished the call, what would you like to do?" This reiterates that the call has an ending and helps them to prepare for that - really handy if they feel sad not being able to visit the grandparents. The preparation helps them to refocus on something that will hopefully support them to deal with their emotions more easily.

Our kids and relatives LOVEā€¦ www.GamesWithGran.com

It’s a website combining video calls with online simple games like 4 in a row and Tic-Tac-Toe. It offers structure, focus and interaction through the challenge of the games plus the unique feature of being able to blur/block the potentially distracting image of yourself without interrupting the other caller’s view.

We occasionally go on Facebook Messenger because the kids love using all the filters and playing the crazy games but they then forget to actually talk. They become so distracted with all the options and visual jazz that they may as well be on the video call by themselves.

Remote bonding could be your happy alternative to patiently waiting till the next time you get to enjoy each other’s company in person. Enjoy putting a smile on the face of someone you love!