With more and more people relocating each year, the importance of keeping in contact with friends and family is greater than ever. Somehow through the chaos of getting settled in we should give tribute to our love hate relationships with social media. Keeping in contact with those at a distance is probably the one thing that social media is good for. As if these social sites could feel our loneliness they continue to drown us in new features that keep us, that have relocated in the loop.
If you have been following me, you will know that my family and I picked up and moved from Detroit to Houston in 2011. We filled up our car to the brim with our necessities and drove thousands of miles to create a new beginning and we haven’t looked back since. The hardest part of the journey was leaving our family and friends behind. The even harder part was forcing our children to adjust to a new comfort zone without the comfort of family, which is everything to us. However, through trial and error we found a system after all these years that works for us.
Although, we may have family come visit here and there or we may travel back home periodically, it’s still difficult to be present for important memories, like birthdays and major holidays. Realistically, some people may never travel to come visit you. Don’t take it personal! It’s also important to remember that fostering relationships at a distance is a two way street so don’t always feel pressured to take the first step because you are the one who left. It’s easy to get consumed with day to day life that days and weeks may past without some contact but this is where some of my favorite tools blends the gaps.
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We never miss an opportunity to try the latest apps, create a consistent schedule, or get creative in the way we continue to bond and foster relationships at a distance. The challenge is getting people on board to do the same. The realization is that older family members aren’t as technically savvy as the younger generations and the younger generation doesn’t sit still long enough to be consistent. The middle ground is finding a way to keep in contact with friends and family by meeting them where they are.
Since I’ve been faced with this dilemna for about six years now I decided to share with you my favorite tools to keep in contact with my family and friends at a distance.
Create a list of all your
friends and families
phone numbers, addresses and emails
before you relocate
My Favorite Ways To Keep In Contact With Friends & Family After Relocation
Marco Polo App – This is really a great app! It has allowed me to keep in contact with both family and friends in a close second to FaceTime. I have a lot of people in my life who don’t have an iPhone so this let’s me get a visual chat with those who don’t. It’s so easy to go back and forth for an extended period of time that before you know it you can possibly have had dinner together, went to Happy Hour together, taken a shopping trip or even been at an important event that you missed all from a click of a button.
You can watch the video in real time while they are leaving it but unlike FaceTime you can’t talk back in real time. You have to wait for them to complete their video first. They offer fun filters and the ability to type on the screen if you want to be seen but not heard. The chats can be deleted manually or you can allow them to pile up for future reference and memories at your peak of loneliness.
Text – I am a habitual Texter! I would much rather text than talk on the phone. I know, I know…this is the biggest complaint with today’s society. Everyone has gotten away from forming actual conversations on the telephone. I’m guilty, but it works! This is one of my favorite tools to keep in contact.
Sending a quick “Happy Birthday” or an “I love you” and going about my day is so convenient that it’s an easy go to for sending a reminder to family and friends that you haven’t forgotten about them.
FaceTime – This is a great way to chat with friends and family in real time. However, it’s only for Apple users. Although I love it, not everyone I keep in contact with have the capabilities. It’s totally convenient with the latest iPhone models because you can FaceTime where ever you are. For older models you have to use Wifi which isn’t so appealing if you don’t always have access.
My Dad does not have and iPhone. In fact he has an ancient model of a phone. But, I recall when he got hold of his friends iPhone and randomly called me. It was the greatest FaceTime experience ever! Then, he started FaceTiming me more frequently at times where my hair was a mess or I was in the nude and suddenly the convenience became a hassle. He’s so adorable trying to keep up with the latest technology though and his efforts were definitely appreciated.
Lesson: Don’t just go randomly FaceTiming people at any hour of the day without getting permission first…..either they won’t answer or you might see something you don’t want to see!
Groupme App – Love, love, love! It’s an easy and convenient way to text message inside a group chat with a huge number of people. Create one for your entire family to keep in contact. Create one for your friendship circles. Create one to keep in contact with your group of in-laws. Maybe you want to create one to keep in contact with a group of old co-workers. Don’t feel forced to do the group thing! It is still a free and easy way to text message with individuals as well.
I have several different groups on groupme. My “Fav Five” group comprised of my friends from back home is by far my favorite! We message daily about anything, including the kids, upcoming plans, entertainment news, prayers of encouragement, announcements, to show pictures and much more.
I’ve also found this useful for planning events. I planned a picnic and a Family Reunion using this tool at a distance. There were to separate groups and both events were flawless. Just add all of the committee members and give it a go!
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, SnapChat – These are the most popular social media channels and they are all so helpful in keeping in contact across the miles in their own right. It’s something unique about them all!
Facebook is my favorite of them all to keep in contact with my family and friends. It’s easy to use and a majority of family use it. It’s definitely user friendly for older adults and this is where I keep in contact with my older aunts, uncles and cousins. It’s easy to see what people are up to by their check-in’s. It even easier to comment under their posts to express how you feel. It let’s them know that you are alive and well even if you don’t make any direct contact and features like the ability to create family groups, pages and inbox messages add an extra flair as well.
Instagram is up next because it gives them a visual glimpse of your life. Without making any contact at all you can tell your story through photos and see their story just the same. With the added Insta-stories it get’s more personal and with just a click of the heart it’s confirmation that they see you. I love that my mom can just scroll my feed and see all the pictures of her grand kids and what they have been up to.
Snapchat is so fun to use! I think its also a great way to document what’s going on in your world. However, I kicked mines to the curb the minute Instagram rolled out the same features. I will admit that not many of my friends and family had it so it wasn’t the most beneficial for my purpose but that can be different for you.
Twitter is a great way to entertain the family and friends who love to talk. When I relocated to Houston, I used Twitter as a way to have my followers come along with me. From the moment we left I talked and chatted and kept them informed of our progress on our cross country road trip. It was so much fun!
Pinterest is a creative way to keep in contact with friends and family at a distance as well. For example, if you can’t come home to attend your cousins baby shower but you still want to help with it, you can create a group board with those who are planning it and add all of your ideas by helping to plan it that way.
Telephone – This is the most traditional way to keep in contact with family and friends. However, it’s not always easy to achieve if you are short on time. It’s nothing like hearing someone’s voice in the flesh! While this is my least favorite way to keep in contact I always make it a point to call certain people on the phone, such as, my parents and siblings.
Creating a call plan is a great way to make this daunting tasks achievable. For example, until I discovered the Marco Polo App mentioned above I used to talk to my Bestie every Monday evening. By creating a consistent talk schedule it gives you something to look forward to and it keeps you focused instead of putting the call off. You can make Saturdays the day you call your friends and Sundays the day you call all of your family members or whatever works for your schedule.
Mail – I am such a paper junkie! It’s nothing like receiving a letter in the mail from someone you love. It’s a keepsake that’s truly worth the stamp and the miles. It’s not often that people still send actual letters these days, just because. However, I’ve been thinking about getting some cute stationary and sending out letters on special occasions. I hope to receive some too!
The mail is also a great way to send family an d friends holiday cards or family portraits. I’m very good at taking family photos and not giving them away because i’m to lazy to go buy stamps and address them. I promise in 2018 I plan to do better! I used to get a big envelope and mail them to my mom only and let her past them out to the entire family back home. If you are much like me it’s a great alternative and you won’t need to purchase a great deal of postage.
Gaming Apps – Gaming Apps are a great way to have Game Night with family and friends at a distance! When Words with Friends were popular I had the greatest time playing against my loved ones for bragging rights. However, there are so many gaming apps that let you achieve this objective, such as, Four in a Row, Chess With Friends, Monopoly, Checkers, Tic Tac Toe Free, Fruit Ninja, Uno, Poker, Family Feud and many more! Some cost a small fee and some are free.
This is a great way to bond and have game night at a distance!
FitBit – This is such a fun way to stay active with friends and family across the miles! I find great joy in competing against them in challenges and holding the bragging rights for later. A family that gets fit together stays together! So grab your Fitbit, create a group challenge and invite all your active friends and family along for the fun!
How have you survived keeping in contact with people at a distance?
What are you waiting for!?! GO OWN YOUR FANCY!