The Coronavirus pandemic has changed my life and my family’s life since February 2020. The last time I was in a social gathering was at my baby shower in late February. The way we used to live and connect has been long gone, and I find myself now with two little “homeschooled” boys and a life that has to make its way and keep connected to the rest of the human race. My little ones have minimal interaction with anyone other than my husband and me, and the gap between the young and old generations feels almost impossible.
Over the past ten months we’ve been creative in finding new ways to communicate. Besides the already established ones with the use of technology, there are many other ways to make our loved ones across the country to feel loved and cherished and, of course, remembered even when we can’t be together for now.
Create A Family Time Schedule
Like so many people today, my husband and I work from home. Working around job schedules, virtual school and spending time with those whom we love is a test to our focus and our senses. Our best recommendation is including yourself in indoor activities during work breaks that require minimal effort or time. Even though we are always together, it doesn’t always feel like quality time. So, we’ve set the goal to make an impression when we can by taking photos, singing songs, and trying small and quick crafts that can be shared with those we don’t see as often. It goes a long way.
Check on Extended Family Frequently
We never forget about extended family, particularly the elderly ones who might not be able to go out at all or reside in isolated facilities. To make sure that our little ones don’t forget about them, we placed family photos all over our living room walls, call them frequently, and exchange cards and letters with them. We want to make sure that our sons have a close connection to the rest of the family by keeping them a part of our daily routine and conversations. It is truly beneficial as it bridges the generation gap among family members.
Use Communication Technology
One of the tricks we have learned during this pandemic is creating an extended family WhatsApp group to check on our extended family continually. We use this platform, to encourage our close and extended family members by posting photos, congratulations, anniversary reminders, group prayers, prayer intentions, and motivational quotes during rough moments. Even though I haven’t seen many of my extended family members in months, our WhatsApp group allows us to feel better connected.
Practice Your Family Traditions
Even though holidays and holy days look different during a pandemic, we have continued practicing our family traditions. Lent will offer another great time to reinforce beliefs and other practices. Including our extended family members from afar will hopefully enhance a sense of identity by ensuring our sons know how we inherited these traditions. And I always appreciate when another family member is able to offer the faith formation lesson!
Minimize And Solve Conflicts Promptly and Amicably
Finally, families are not perfect, and as such, conflicts can result from misunderstandings. It has taken us a lot of practice learning how maintain communication with extended family members with whom we disagree. Issues arise and must be addressed or they can create avenues for division and disconnection. And that makes everyone’s day a bit more of a hurdle in this crisis.
We didn’t want disagreements to break family ties, so we try to resolve misunderstandings immediately. We promote family closeness and teach our little ones that we are each other’s support system and resentments are not worth it.
Keeping our extended family close during the pandemic can be challenging, but it’s worth our efforts. Without the right strategies, family unity can be lost, and as such, you will live like strangers with your family.
How have you kept extended family close over the past year?