One of the hardest things for my family to endure during the last several months has been the lack of in-person interactions between my young children (ages six and eight) and my parents. Before the pandemic, my parents, who live close by were active and consistent participants in my children’s lives. The pandemic changed that.
Beginning in early spring, our families made the mutual decision to practice social distancing until there was a cure or a safe vaccine for COVID-19. It is a personal choice we arrived at together, but it has been difficult for the children to understand why they can no longer see their beloved grandparents in our home on a regular basis. My children have accepted that schools are closed, and that they cannot see their friends, but accepting restrictions regarding close family has been challenging.
I decided I needed to find a way to keep them safe while maintaining a fun level of engagement between these two generations. It was time to depend on technology and a little bit of creativity, and it’s worked out pretty well for us. I thought I’d share some of my ideas and hope they inspire you.
Increasing the Fun Factor on Virtual Calls
We started doing weekly virtual calls with my parents and members of my extended family back in March. However, it became clear we needed to insert a bit more creativity to keep these calls a highlight of the week. Here’s what we came up with:
Getting Out and About
While we are not gathering indoors, we have recently had our first backyard meet-up with my parents last weekend. I also have set up our porch with chairs six feet apart and tables for meetups if there is rain. Taking this step required a mutual comfort in increasing our risk to exposure.
I think another way to increase engagement is to get both generations involved in any type of planning. The grandparent can perhaps offer their time and resources, and work on it from afar. Think creatively and outside of your normal comfort level. For instance, my son had a few friends over for social distanced backyard Pokémon Olympics for his birthday. His grandmother offered to make large signs for each of the crazy activities that I conjured up (e.g. Mewtwo’s Bean Bag Toss, Solgaleo’s Star Pass, Elsa Froze Pikachu). “How does grandma know who these characters and how did she draw him”? It turns out my mom read up on all the characters. She went above and beyond and my son was so surprised and appreciative.
We are truly in unprecedented times and forced to be flexible in such a fluid situation. While we are limited in what we can do in person, I’ve found, if you look for them, the opportunities to engage between generations can be limitless.
Anna Lui is a Senior Marketing Manager at Modera. She is responsible for managing external firm communications and supporting growth initiatives.
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