Keeping in Touch During the Pandemic
By Tanni Haas, Ph.D.
The pandemic is taking a toll on all of us, especially grandparents who, due to their age, are particularly vulnerable. Many grandparents haven’t visited their grandkids for months.
But grandkids are important to grandparents, and vice versa!
Here are 6 Ways Your Kids Can Connect with the Grandparents:
1. Video Calls
Whether your family prefers FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or some other video-based technology, use that technology to make the grandparents an integral part of their grandkids’ lives. Most grandparents wake up early anyway, so consider having them be the grandkids’ alarm clocks in the morning. It’s comforting to kids to be woken up by familiar, smiley faces.
The kids can’t and shouldn’t focus on their school work all day; they need frequent breaks to relax and recharge. Why not invite the grandparents to join the kids for some virtual, mid-afternoon stretching? Both may need some physical exercise. If the grandparents play an instrument or enjoy arts and crafts, they could give the kids some virtual lessons.
In the evening, before the kids go to sleep, invite the grandparents to read them a bed time story, chat a bit about their day or, if the kids are older, play an online game like Words With Friends.
2. Email or Text
Grandparents and grandkids can also keep in contact via email or text. Have the kids write about their activities; grandparents love hearing about all the exciting things their grandkids are doing. If the grandparents don’t have an email account or don’t know how to text, use it as an opportunity for some extra bonding. Encourage the kids to create an email account for grandma and grandpa or teach them how to text – kids love to show how smart they are, and grandparents love to learn new things.
3. Social Media
Encourage the kids to invite their grandparents to “follow” them on social media like Instagram and Snapchat, today’s digital version of the photo album. Another option is to have the kids email, text, or mail their grandparents a weekly batch of photos, which will make them feel really close to each other.
When was the last time you received a postcard or a letter from a loved one? I thought so! Few people write letters anymore, and most people only send postcards from vacation locations. It doesn’t have to be this way. Have the kids write a postcard or a letter, maybe with some beautiful drawings. I have yet to meet a grandparent who didn’t enjoy receiving mail from the grandkids!
5. Drive By / Meet Up
If the grandparents don’t live too far away, consider a “car visit” drive-by where you can wave to each other from the car or, even better, sit down in a driveway at a safe distance and talk. You could meet up at the local park or playground, as long as you keep a safe distance. This ways you’ll keep the grandparents safe, but let them enjoy the kids – and you – up close.
5. Running Errands
You and the kids could also run errands for them, and then leave the groceries outside their door. You get to see each other AND do something helpful for the people who’ve done, and continue to do, so much for you and the kids.