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.
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 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. For more questions to ask while they are away, use our Q & U app.
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!