5 Ways to Keep Families Connected While Apart

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With most parts of Victoria now back in lockdown thanks to COVID-19, many of us are struggling with the return to isolation and are missing quality time with loved ones. The situation can be particularly difficult for children who don’t understand why they can no longer visit grandparents and friends.

Research from past pandemics has highlighted the importance of human connections — with studies about the SARS pandemic in Hong Kong in 2008 finding that residents who experienced increased social connectedness were able to offset the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic. For this reason, finding ways to stay connected to those we love is more important than ever.

Create a digital timeline:

The only thing better than witnessing your child’s special moments is being able to share them with loved ones – but thanks to social distancing, sharing milestones and important moments has never been more of a challenge. That’s where Momatu comes in. Momatu is a free digital timeline app designed to keep families and friends connected by providing them with their own private space to capture, sort and share life’s keeper moments with one another.

Just like a scrapbook, only digital, Momatu allows parents to build beautiful timelines with photos, video recordings, journal entries and other memories that can then be shared with those nearest and dearest – think grandparents, cousins or close friends. Momatu enables loved ones to stay in the loop and up-to-date on every milestone and activity, allowing comments, likes and even contributions of their own. Available on iOS and Android.

Watch a movie together:

Weekend sleepovers with cousins might be a thing of the past, but at least movie night can still go ahead. Online streaming sites like Netflix Party, Scener, Metastream or TwoSeven allow users to watch movies together while apart by seamlessly matching streams to enable in-sync viewing. The sites use popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube, so kids can choose from their favourite movies to watch alongside friends. The sites also include an instant messaging feature for users to communicate while streaming, with sites like TwoSeven and Scener featuring a video function, so users can see each other face-to-face. Add pyjamas and popcorn, and kids will barely feel the difference.

Write handwritten letters:

With many of us tasked with occupying children for long periods of time now, it’s no wonder good old-fashioned activities like scrapbooking, painting and letter writing are becoming increasingly popular. When it comes to staying connected, drawings and handwritten letters can be a thoughtful, heart-warming gift for grandparents or close friends. Have children write about what they did during the day or get creative and paint a family portrait, then mail or hand-deliver their gift. For elderly loved ones who may struggle with technology, this is a great way to keep in touch and let them know they’re thought of. Plus, who doesn’t love receiving handwritten mail?

Drop off meals & baked goods:

While big family get-togethers are on hold for the time being, there are still ways to share a meal with those nearest and dearest. Get the kids together for an afternoon of cooking – classic, well-loved dishes like lasagne are great for dinner on a cold night, while you can almost never go wrong with a batch of choc-chip cookies. Kids will enjoy getting creative (and probably a little messy) in the kitchen, but they’ll love being able to share their creations even more. Arrange to drop off a meal for loved ones, or perhaps organise a food swap so kids can still enjoy grandma’s cooking.

Arrange a virtual play date:

Video communication has proved itself a lifesaver during COVID-19, with people around the world discovering there’s virtually nothing you can’t do over FaceTime. For co-parents, grandparents, or simply kids missing their friends, video calls are an excellent and easy way to stay connected. Arrange a virtual play date with friends or family members, where kids can paint, build or draw alongside their loved ones. Or great creative and have kids construct a masterpiece out of backyard objects. Even games like Pictionary and Guess Who can be played via video call. With a little imagination, kids can enjoy the company of friends, cousins or grandparents while staying safe at home.

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