by Robin Trimingham
It goes without saying that the events of the past year have challenged families to pull together like never before. In your seventies, where you once might have looked forward to weekly or even daily visits with the grandchildren to the point that you almost took this time together for granted, you now savor even the simplest form of human interaction.
As much as it is tempting to long for the things you have lost, the social distancing requirements of the pandemic are also an opportunity to strengthen your internet skills and stretch yourself to become more virtually connected to your younger family members than ever before.
Trying to work, supervise home schooling, get the groceries ordered, and cook three meals a day can be a stressful juggling act for even the most accomplished millennial mom, and internet-savvy elders can provide them with a much-needed break by spending some quality time online with the grandkids.
The many ways to help virtually with schoolwork include helping children to practice their reading skills, quizzing them on their times tables, helping them study for an upcoming spelling test, or assisting with research assignments. And don’t underestimate how much your younger grandchildren might enjoy a virtual teddy bear tea party or a simple bedtime story.
You can also spend quality time online with teens by watching a video together, supervising baking or pizza making, or doing crafts and art projects together, thereby creating the perfect opportunity to chat with them about their goals for the future, or help them investigate online courses, career options or employment possibilities.
If you are able-bodied, you might also be able to lend a “social-distanced” hand walking the family dog, weeding the garden, planting a family vegetable patch, assisting with exterior home repairs, or swinging by your local grocery store for their curbside grocery pickup and then depositing the shopping bags on the front porch of your relative’s home.
You’ve heard the expression that “families that play together stay together” but have you considered all the other little ways that families depend on each other for advice and support, or just a safe place to vent their frustrations?
Yes, it might be a little awkward to ask your younger relatives how they are managing financially during a group video call, but don’t rule out the idea of scheduling someone one-on-one time with your adult child to go over the numbers and strategies for stretching a dollar in new ways.
The key to maintaining strong family bonds in the age of COVID-19 is simple – be open minded and flexible, listen when they just need to talk, and offer virtual support and assistance in any way you can think of.