Hanging out virtually isn’t the same experience as being together in person.
But for the foreseeable future, it’s going to have to do. Luckily in the age of smart phones, tablets, and WiFi, we can keep our distance and still stay connected. Use these tips for creating richer, more meaningful video chat experiences with family members and friends.
Tips for Making Your Video Chats Meaningful
- Schedule the call ahead of time so you can all prepare to be engaged.
- Hold your phone or tablet at eye level – no one wants to see up your nose or talk to your forehead.
- Remove all other distractions. Turn down the music, flip off TV. Just as you would if you were in person, give your video chat buddy your full attention.
- If you’re not used to video chatting and the thought makes you a little nervous, do an activity beforehand to loosen up. Perhaps go on a walk as a family. Or adults, have a glass of wine. This is a new normal and we have to adjust to it!
- Give expectations upfront so everyone’s on the same page, e.g. 10 minutes of chat time. Perhaps each kid gets a designated amount of time.
- Most importantly: Be yourself! Don’t worry about the piled up laundry or kids still in pajamas at noon. These are strange times and we’re all doing our best. Try to enjoy the ride!
Here are some creative ideas for doing more than just a catch-up chat:
- Do a joint pre-chat activity! Before your call, both parties can do some kind of activity (a virtual museum tour, craft, watch a video, maybe even homework). Use your face-to-face time to share and talk it.
- Do a joint live activity. Establish what you’ll do ahead of time so you have time to gather the materials. Maybe it’s baking cookies, reading a book out loud, or doing an art activity, it’s fun to do something together (but apart).
- Do a little show and tell. Have the kids show grandma their most recent art projects or newest favorite outfit.
- Host a virtual talent show! Use Google Hangouts or another video conferencing tool, so each child can perform their talent for the group.
- Have a book club with your friends. Commit to reading a certain number of chapters every few days and, once the kids are in bed, pour yourself a glass of wine and have virtual book club to keep in touch with your friends!
Whatever you can do to maintain some sort of normalcy and (distant) socializing during this time will go a long way!