It’s not fun being cut off from friends and relatives, and this year has been a painful one for many new parents and mums-to-be, longing to share their joy with others, or just get a bit of advice or a warm hug. But instead of focusing on what we can’t do right now, think of what is achievable. With a bit of imagination, you can enjoy keeping in touch with friends and family in new and fun ways, while looking forward to the time when we can all be together again, just around the corner.
Here’s a few ideas:
1. See a friend or relative outdoors. This may sound simple but there’s some good news. The government guidance on the new lockdown states that we can currently see one person from another household outdoors, ie max two people. But this time round, the rules are much better for parents, as children under 5 do not count in the total number of people. So for example, two mums who each have a baby or toddler would be able to meet in a park without breaking any rules (with social distancing of course). This also means that you could take your little one to see a grandparent outdoors too, something that we all really missed earlier this year. For more details, see the guidance here (link). Being able to have a bit of contact outdoors in a safe way can really make life much more liveable and allows your little one to benefit from the stimulation of meeting new friends, crucial to their development.
2. Watch a movie together online. In the first round of lockdown, a lot of people arranged various online activities with friends, most popular being the Zoom ‘pop quiz’. Unfortunately, that particular format is very likely a bit worn out now, so now it’s time for something new. Before lockdown, watching movies with friends was one of the activities that many people enjoyed most, having a bit of popcorn, sharing a few sarcastic comments, crying uncontrollably together during tragic moments. Watching a movie together online is very doable and you can have great fun. The simplest way is for everyone to watch a movie on their own device or TV, but with Skype or Zoom open on a phone or other device so you can have a bit of banter throughout the movie. Please bear in mind that trying to screen share Netflix on Zoom is a violation of their terms and therefore will not work. However, a free add-on you can get, called ‘Netflix Party’ allows anyone who subscribes to Netflix to live-chat while watching Netflix on the Google Chrome internet browser.
3. Share memories. During lockdown, many families have found it helpful to have regular video calls with relatives, with many parents making a particular effort to make sure their little ones still get to know their grandparents. While video calls are great, we find that grandparents and others especially love to receive postcards, especially when they are personalised in some way. Children often really enjoy a bit of arts and crafts, so you can have a lot of fun creating little postcards to send to family and friends. Postcards can be customised with fun photos of you and your little one, or maybe something that will make the recipient smile. Using a little bit of paint, you could get your baby or toddler to ‘sign’ your letter and postcard with their hands, something that is sure to be well received. For parents, sharing those beautiful memories of your little one growing up is so important. Although we currently are in a rather unusual situation, you can still find ways to share those memories, and keep close to your friends and family.