When I first came to the US I depended on expensive international phone cards and MSN messenger to help me stay in touch with my family. Within the almost two decades I’ve been here there have been huge technological changes! Thankfully, because of these changes, there’s no reason to lose contact or fall out of touch with long-distance loved ones, no matter where they are in the world. Long-distance relationships are not as difficult to maintain anymore.
When the pandemic hit, I tried to provide intentional, enriching social interactions for my kids and to be supportive of our loved ones by returning that favor to them. Now, those experiences have evolved into little gems of tradition. Truthfully, we have more contact with some of our long-distance family members now than previously because of our pandemic habits.
So, here are our tips to help you get into the habit of growing strong long-distance relationships whether you’re a few miles apart or an ocean apart.
Schedule time to regularly check in with your loved ones, near or far. Sometimes getting into the habit is the biggest hurdle. Send a text, mail a note, write a card, email, or make a call. Whatever way you choose, make it regular. ie. if you have commute time that could be a few minutes to call your grandma. Put it on your calendar if you need to. And don’t forget your nieces, nephews, or grandkids. You can make an impact in your friends, siblings, and your own children’s lives by recognizing the kids in their lives too.
Tip: use a messaging app like Slack, Whatsapp, or Facebook messenger to keep your group communication in one spot.
If someone crosses your mind, reach out without a second thought.
One of my goals this year is to re-establish contact by scheduling regular hangouts. Admittedly, some months can be harder to nail down a day or time to have a zoom date that suits everyone, especially if your group is big. The effort still counts.
Find an accountability partner. Maybe there’s another family member who is supportive of your goal and happy to join forces and encourage you. Another family member will help remind you of important dates and events, and any family news.
Or, maybe you have a friend who wants to reconnect with their own family and you can support each other?
Tip: Create a calendar, digital or physical, and add all your dates to it. Include birthdays, anniversaries, trips, graduations, etc to help you stay ahead of any purchases or mailing dates.
Make a backup plan
Line up an alternate plan. Say your goal is to meet up virtually once a month with your siblings however, scheduling gets tricky because life is like that. All is not lost, you can still touch base.
Substitute plans could include: switching the time of day – everyone eats lunch. Maybe a quick lunch date or a virtual coffee will work better than scheduling a weekend night?
Alternatively, instead of sitting down for a long-distance virtual meet up schedule a family movie using Group Watch on Disney+ or Teleparty. Chat through the movie on your chat channel and share pictures of your movie snacks with each other. Explore your options.
Simple long-distance gestures
We all appreciate simple gestures but can often be held back from making them. Whether you feel your simple gesture is enough or not, the recipient will appreciate it, guaranteed! Think of it from their point of view. There’s a gesture for every budget too. You can’t go wrong getting back to basics with a handwritten note or card, all it costs is a stamp.
Some out-of-the-box ideas for simple, long-distance gestures could be to send some fresh cookies, a dinner pie, or fresh flowers. If you can find a local or small business to support, that’s a big bonus in my opinion.
Tip: Quickly and easily send a postcard from your phone with the Touch Note app. Use your own photos or their graphics, either way, it will be a fun, thoughtful surprise to get in the mail. Get $10 off a yearly subscription with code: LAURV
Long-distance family fun time
Currently, we have a virtual book club between an Aunt and two nieces, monthly virtual games night usually playing Jackbox.tv games, Sunday night movie watch party with extended family, a monthly craft night where we do a subscription box craft together, daily contact as we share our Wordle results, and text messages along with video calls here and there.
Long distance doesn’t mean what it used to. As a result, loved ones who don’t live nearby don’t have to be out of sight and out of mind. You can grow some pretty fantastic long-distance relationships with a little effort on your part.
I would love to hear your ideas, solutions, and resources for nurturing your own relationships with loved ones near and far! Leave a comment so I can check them out.