If your kids are anything like ours, they think their grandparents walk on water. They adore spending time with them and enjoy their wisdom and long stories as often as they can. Even as grown adults, we likely still think of our grandparents as cooler than our own parents!
That’s one of the reasons why this Coronavirus pandemic is so overwhelming, sad, and scary; for many of us, limited contact with our older family members can be devastating to the daily lives of all involved.
We can still interact with our grandparents even in times where social distancing is necessary. We just have to be cautious and keep those in the elderly age bracket isolated and away from potentially germ-spreading younger people.
So how do we keep our distance and still be social?
How can we keep grandparents connected with their grandkids?
Here are several easy ways that you can encourage safe and secure interactions.
Video chatting is the next best thing to being in a room together. With the need for social distancing, video chat is more important than ever. In fact, video chat turns social distancing into distant socializing.
Here are some great free video chat tools you can use right now to safely interact face-to-face with grandparents.
These video chat platforms are a great way to stay connected to loved ones that must otherwise stay isolated. You can even do group chats so multiple family members can join in, be seen, and interact on a single call.
Just be sure to have a conversation with both the elderly adult and your children, if they are younger, regarding how video chatting works. We also recommend supervising younger children during video sessions to make sure they are using it properly and not sending out any unwanted calls.
Getting used to video chatting and interacting with one another remotely may be a transition for both parties, but meeting in small sessions several times per day at first will help make it more normal. To further keep grandparents involved, include them in a video chat at Sunday night dinner or even have your child read them a story at bedtime.
Overall, video chatting can go a long way in simulating life as normal.
Depending on the age of your child, virtual gaming might be a fun way to keep kids and their grandparents connected and their minds busy!
The following games are engaging and easy to play no matter the distance:
- Words with Friends
- Draw Something
- Hanging with Friends
- Maze King
- Chess with Friends
- Trivia Crack
- Infinite Word Search
The games above are all apps you can download onto a phone or tablet for free.
You can also play games during video chats that you would normally play in-person. Some ideas include:
- Trivial Pursuit
Emailing (or Text Messaging)
Writing a virtual letter is a nice way to correspond with one another. Your kids can help come up with what to say in the email and add their own personal touches.
But don’t limit yourself to just sharing words.
Take a photo or scan drawings and colorings your kids have done and add them as attachments. You can also take photos throughout the day and attach them to the email to share what everyone has been doing.
Non-Digital Ways to Connect with Grandparents
Not every grandparent has the latest iPhone, can easily set up a Zoom account, or even use email. But, as shocking as this may sound, the Internet isn’t the only way to connect these days. There are plenty of other ways to interact while still practicing safe social distancing that won’t require a modem.
Some non-digital ways to interact with grandparents include:
If the grandparents live nearby, you can drive by their house and say hello in-person, with them staying inside and you out. Leaving notes or messages on windows can be a fun way to communicate.
Some grandparents live really close by, or even in the same home, and in those cases walkie talkies are another fun way to interact without having to get too close.
You can arrange a set time to watch the same movie or TV show together, and then call each other on the phone afterwards to talk about it.
Keep it old school with snail mail. Start pen palling with grandparents. Experts state coronavirus can’t travel via mail, though we still recommend taking appropriate precautions (like washing hands) when sending something.
Bake Drop and Swap
So long as proper safety precautions are taken, kids can help cook for grandparents, and grandparents can do the same for their grandkids. Just drop off the baked good outside the front door. As a bonus you can share the same meals together, just from different locations.
Why Social Distancing from Grandparents is so Important
During this epidemic, staying away from grandparents is very important.
Because people older than 65 years old have a significantly higher risk of complications, hospitalizations, and deaths from the COVID-19 virus than any other age group.
The CDC currently notes that eight out of ten deaths reported are individuals over 65. These reports should be taken seriously.
As much as we want to see and spend time with our family members, it is more important that we keep them safe and ensure our interactions with them are 100% risk-free.
If we absolutely must see and care for an older adult, follow these guidelines:
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before any interaction
- Wear a mask if available
- Wear gloves when preparing food or providing personal care
It may be hard at first to have to adjust to seeing your beloved parent or grandparent via video chat instead of face-to-face as normal and preferred. However, the activities above can help form a “new normal” during these difficult times. The most important thing right now is to keep the older loved ones in your life safe and secure.
If you have any other ways to keep connected, stay active, and be safe with family members please share them with the rest of our community on our Goally Parents Facebook Group.
Stay safe and healthy out there!
Editor's note: This information is not meant to diagnose or treat and should not take the place of personal consultation, as needed, with a qualified healthcare provider and/or BCBA.