12 Ways to Stay in Touch with Older Children

stay in touch

As my kids have gotten older, I’ve had to get used to less face-to-face time with them. College and career opportunities in different states mean that we don’t see each other around the family dinner table every night anymore. As a mom who craves meaningful communication with all of my children, the adjustment has been pretty hard for me at times. But over the last several years, I’ve learned 12 great ways to stay connected with your kids, no matter their age!

Know their schedule.

Know their schedule of important events and text them before big tests, interviews, dates, etc. with encouraging words or to let them know you are praying for them. My son’s freshman year he got really sick during exams.  I called to check up on how it was going and discovered he was so tired and pressed studying that he didn’t have anything for his cold.  I found a grocery delivery service online.  Turns out the deliverer was an entrepreneurial young mom who shopped and delivered, toddler in tow to make money.  She showed up on his doorstep with Gatorade, snacks, and cold medicine and said this is from your mom—she loves you! He was so thankful and so was I that I had taken the time to call and see how exams were going.

Post to their social media sites.

A helpful article posted on Facebook or a funny cartoon shared on Instagram are great ways to laugh together, learn together, and stay together. Try joining in daily trends on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram like Throwback Thursday (aka #TBT; post a “throwback” photo of you and your child on Thursday), or Flashback Friday (aka #FBF; same idea as #TBT but on Friday). Just make sure you don’t post too frequently…and definitely don’t post anything that could be embarrassing!


Text them and tell them that you love them every night, whether they are in the next room or miles away at college. Consider coming up with fun acronyms that will both express your love and present a fun puzzle for your teen to figure out! Instead of the usual “ILY” (I Love You), try “ILYMTACCC” (I Love You More Than A Chocolate Chip Cookie)! Come up with something new every time, and let your child figure out just how much you love them!

Keep up with the same entertainment.

Be it a mutual favorite TV show, book, or sports team. One fun idea I recently heard about from a friend is to create an online family sports challenge, like a bracket challenge during college basketball’s March Madness. Even though the kids in my friend’s family were living on three different continents, they all kept up with each other through a fun family competition.

Crazy Snapchats.

The fun of Snapchat is that you can let your kids see the fun, imperfect side of you. It is a great way to help them feel connected to home. We do video’s of the dogs and their silly antics all the time. A crazy bad hair day, a picture of your dog asleep on dad’s head on the couch, or any other aspect of your everyday life will remind your child of home and make them feel loved. 

Treat them.

Treat them to something unexpected. Everyone loves surprises! When your daughter comes home from school on break, take her out to get a mani/pedi. When your son gets back from a hard day at high school, take him out to his favorite restaurant. While your teen is away, send a personalized care package with favorite candies, homemade cookies, a gift card to their favorite store, a popular new video game or book, and a little love note signed by the whole family.

Invite their friends over for family dinner and game time.

If your child is still at home or lives nearby, have them invite a few friends over for a meal and some fun! If they’re a couple of hours away at school, have them bring their friends for the weekend. This is a great way to stay a part of your child’s life while also keeping tabs on the kinds of people your child is surrounding themselves with.

Play distance games.

Play games with them via smartphone or tablet. Games like Words with Friends or other multi-player games allow both of you to de-stress while also keeping in touch with each other.

Brag about them.

Brag openly on social media or to friends. Ask them for  pictures (or take some of your own) of their accomplishments–a photo of your son brandishing his A grade on that awful chemistry final or your daughter dressed up for her first day of work at a great new job–and let your friends know how proud you are to be the parent of such a wonderful child. 

Let them know what’s going on in your life.

Frequently, older kids are more interested in their parents’ doings than one might think, especially when they’re away from home. Letting them know what you’re up to will help them continue to feel like they’re a part of your life. 

Count down the days. 

Count down until you’re reunited with your child, especially if you haven’t seen each other for awhile. Let them know how excited you are to see them again! This will make them feel loved and missed, and excited to be happily received upon their return.

No matter how old your children are or how far away they live, let them know that you are still a part of their lives. Just make sure you’re being sensitive to them so you’re not overwhelming them or becoming too overbearing!

What do you do to stay in touch with your older kids, be it from a long distance or in the next room? Leave us suggestions in the comments below!

Posted On: November 20, 2015     cat-folder College 1 Comment


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Celebrating the Holidays When it Hurts

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Guest Post By: Lisa Appelo

I usually love Christmastime. I love the smell of a Douglas fir in the living room and holiday music on the radio. I love all the baking and cooking of Christmas and shopping for that one present that I know will bring a wide grin to my child.

But four years ago, we were facing a very painful Christmas. Six months earlier, my husband, Dan, and the amazing father to our seven children, had suffered a sudden heart attack and died. Life had been in a tailspin and we entered the Christmas season with eight broken hearts. I knew that getting through every first without him would be hard and I needed to be very intentional about that first Christmas. 

What do you do when the holidays hurt? When someone you love is missing at the table or life has taken a sudden painful turn? While every family will deal with difficulty a bit differently, here are five things we did to help us through that hard Christmas.

Mix it up. 

Don’t ignore the pain.

It’s unhealthy to push through the holidays with a façade of happiness. There were certainly parts of that first Christmas that we enjoyed. I remember one night in particular when some good friends knocked on our front door and treated us to caroling and homemade goodies in my front yard. But we also cried at points and talked about how much we missed Dan. The healthiest way to address pain is to process it head on.

Remember the good.

One evening, we sat together as a family and spent time talking about some of our favorite Christmas memories. We laughed as I told them stories about their dad when we were dating and as they recalled funny stories I’d forgotten. Laughter is good medicine. Despite our pain, we had plenty of good to celebrate and remembering the stories kept us knit together as we worked through our grief.

Focus on others.

We started a tradition called Days of Joy because we needed it so badly. Every day in December, we looked for someone to bless. One day, we put a cooler of sodas and homemade cookies out for our trash collectors and watched with delight when they stopped for them. We took doughnuts to our local firehouse, packed Operation Christmas child boxes, wrote letters to our Compassion child and started a coin jar to give away. We still do this every December, a special tradition that came from our hardest Christmas.

Holidays are an especially difficult time when you’re hurting but there are things you can do to help. Taking these intentional steps not only helped us get through that Christmas but brought a measure of healing.  

If you’re facing a hard Christmas, what steps could you take to help? How might you help if it’s someone else who will have a painful holiday?


Lisa Appelo writes at TrueandFaithful.net

Posted On: November 17, 2015     cat-folder Be Encouraged 1 Comment


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How to Keep Your Marriage on Track When Life Derails You

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I don’t know about you, but when I got married, I had a few expectations of the way things were going to be. Mark and I had plans and goals, and we were blissfully on board our marriage train to chase our dreams. But like every other couple, we learned pretty quickly that life can derail you in an instant! An unexpected pregnancy, a job change, financial struggles, sickness, any number of things can swiftly change the plans you thought you had. 

Then we had to ask ourselves, “now what?” What do we do now, when our carefully made plans are falling apart? When I’m in the hospital for the umpteenth time, when the house floods, when we don’t feel like we’re on the same page anymore? How do you keep your marriage on track? In this podcast, Mark and I share with you three ways to respond when life derails you:

  1. Know That You Will Get Knocked off the Track.
  2. How to Respond to Getting Knocked off the Track.
  3. How to Lay New Track Together.

Anyone who’s been married for awhile knows that getting knocked off the track happens. Responding is a little trickier. In June of 2011, our house flooded. We were temporarily uprooted and then had to rent a place while extensive repairs were done. It derailed our lives in a big way! Everything was turned completely upside down. I really struggled with it all. In the days after the repairs were made, when we started the process of unpacking all of our boxes from storage and moving back in while the workers finished their jobs, I was exhausted. There came a point when I couldn’t take it anymore, but my husband didn’t realize it and made a bad morning for me worse. He wasn’t supporting me like I needed, and I was too tired to even tell him what was on my heart. As often happens, events that derail our lives can damage our relationships. Thankfully, my mother-in-law helped him figure out that I needed quiet love and support, and he responded amazingly by sending me “I’m sorry” flowers and taking the time to understand how everything was affecting me. The flood showed that our house wasn’t solid, but working through everything that happened just made our marriage stronger.

Posted On: November 12, 2015     cat-folder Marriage Leave a comment


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