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  • Dawn

Keeping in touch

When you have much loved family members living overseas, keeping in touch is really important.

If contact is too infrequent, it’s all too easy to feel that we’re being forgotten. And even when we do talk, whether on phone calls or video calls, then we might find that we’re struggling to find something to say. It can seem like we’re living such separate lives that we’re growing apart, and this can be painful.

Do you need some suggestions for how to stay in touch more frequently? Or ideas about things that you can share? Try some of the ideas below:

  • Use a messaging app to send a brief text. Sometimes it’s easier for people to find time to respond to a text message than it is to make a call. WhatsApp is probably the most popular app, but there are a range of others, including Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Signal, Instagram or WeChat. You’ll just have to agree on which app you’re all going to use and then you can stay in contact by sending the occasional message when something occurs to you, or when you want to ask a quick question.

  • Create a one-to-one conversation/chat between you and one particular family member. This can be quite intimate and personal - especially useful when you want to say something privately.

  • Alternatively, set up a group chat where a particular group of family members both here and abroad can pitch in and add a comment or response. This takes the pressure off any one person to respond and can also help create more of a ‘family feel’ to the whole thing.

  • Send photos of things that you are doing or places you are visiting, the odd ‘selfie’, perhaps, of you or another family member. Ask your loved one/s to do the same.

  • Share a link to a national or local news item that has made you think or that you think that they might be interested in. Look out for anything that might reflect their interests and pass it on.

  • Swap recommendations for a good films, good books, or interesting podcasts if that’s more your thing.

  • Send a joke, cartoon or a funny GIF. These don’t necessarily need a response – you might just get a smiley face in return.

It’s really important not to feel upset if you don’t get a response to a text straightaway. Remember that they might be really busy when you send your text. Keep everything relaxed and staying in touch is more likely to feel light-hearted and fun, rather than a pressure or a chore.

On a separate note, how about playing online games or puzzles together, again one-to-one or as a group, depending on your particular situation and on the nature of the game?

There are plenty of different games out there. I play ‘Wordle’ with both of my sons, one living in Australia and the other here in the UK. We all do the daily puzzle and then share it to a WhatsApp chat that we set up just for this purpose. It gives us light-hearted daily contact.

‘Words with Friends’ is a different option. Try a Google search to get some more ideas.

Playing online games takes the pressure off you and them in having to find something to say. It’s just one more way to make sure that you stay close.

Have you found any other useful ways to stay in touch?

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