It can be hard to stay connected while away from friends and family, especially if you are just starting school and this will be your first time away from home for a long period. Here are some easy ways to stay connected beyond the occasional phone call.
Record Stories For Younger Family Members
If you have younger siblings, cousins, or nieces/nephews, recording yourself is a great way to make sure they can still interact with you! This is particularly important in infants and toddlers, as they are more likely to forget about someone over a period of weeks. Make recordings of yourself telling made-up stories, reading books, or singing nursery rhymes. Have someone play the video while the child is getting ready for bed as a replacement or addition to storytime.
For the most realistic experience, make a video that shows you holding up the picture book as you read it. This will make sure the child stays engaged throughout the whole video and help them remember your face. If you’re camera shy or just looking for an easier option to make the process quicker, just record audio to send over. It can easily be shared with multiple family members and played for small children over and over again.
Try recording in another language if you are bilingual (or even just took some classes in high school)! Finding children’s books in other languages is increasingly easy, but even just talking about your day using basic phrases from another language can go a long way. You are more likely to be able to gain fluency the younger you start learning languages, so you’ll be putting your younger family members at an advantage while keeping in contact. Your older family members may even appreciate the opportunity to learn more about a foreign language.
No matter what you choose to record, this is a fantastic way to stay connected with younger family members.
This is one of the biggest and most important things you can do to stay connected while far away. With social media sites such as Snapchat and Instagram, letting the world see what you’re doing is incredibly easy. Add any friends or family members you want to stay in touch with and post on your story regularly.
If social media isn’t your thing or you have sensitive information on your profile, try making a shared album on Googe Photos instead. This is my preferred way to share pictures, and I utilize it with all the people close to me to share our moments. No matter what you choose to do on the technological front, you should always consider printing off one or two photos to send your family like a postcard. This offers a physical display and is always a pleasant surprise to receive.
Leaving for college or any major life change is incredibly exciting, but remember to make time for those you are leaving behind. Parents, siblings, and other family members you’ve grown up around will miss seeing you every day, so even just a quick snap of you folding laundry or working on homework goes a long way!
Pre-Plan Holiday Cards
Go in advance (before school if you are starting college, once a year or so in general) and purchase cards for all the important holidays, birthdays, and other noteworthy events your family celebrates that you will be missing. Even if you intend on being home for a holiday, but will miss the days surrounding it, it is a good idea to send a card saying that you are very excited to see everyone soon! This can all be done quite economically as there are often many good options for cheap. Many dollar stores sell basic but cute cards at 2 for $1.
Address the envelope in advance and add the necessary stamps. You may choose to fill out the card and sign in advance so that all you need to do at the time of the event is mail the card. This will reduce stress surrounding the event. Waiting to sign the inside of the card is a good choice if you plan to write a personalized note, as you’ll want it to be relevant to both of you instead of something written months ago. or a more customizable option, buy your own stationery to give each card that personalized touch.
Whichever you choose to do, be sure to keep the cards put away somewhere safe until it’s time to send them. For each card you have, put a note or alarm in your phone for a week before the holiday or event to remind you to send them. Having everything prepared in advance means that you only need to worry about the mail by date, saving a lot of stress while also going a long way to help you stay connected.
Eat Dinner Long-Distance
If your family eats dinner together regularly, plan one dinner a month to share over facetime. While it isn’t the same as sitting around the family dining table, being able to see your family and talk while you eat will go a long way. Try finding interesting conversation topics in advance in order to avoid silence and maximize your time. For example, find interesting news stories about the area you are in that did not make national news. You can also enjoy these monthly dinners with your friends. Have everyone order a pizza and share wild stories for a few hours. This will help you stay connected to your friends, even when they are making new ones.
Personalized Online Book Club
If you are looking to stay connected with friends and family members who like to read, try pre-planning a few books to discuss together. Come up with a list of books the group agrees on, (or even just one book if the group is not made up of avid readers,) and each read them on your own time. This allows everyone to read however they choose, through a physical paperback, audiobook, or kindle edition.
Every few chapters, have a discussion via facetime or simply debate in a group chat about the plot. Share your reactions, likes, dislikes, concerns, and expectations for the upcoming chapters. Be sure not to spoil anything until everyone is on the same page!