How Grandparents Can Stay in Touch

Linda GildenBy Linda Gilden8 Minutes

As we continue to navigate difficult times of sheltering and social distancing, many grandparents and grandchildren long for an opportunity to see each other. Some live close together and others live miles apart, but they are joined by the same desire to spend time with each other. One of the best ways to do that is to have Internet meetings. Grandchildren who are kindergarteners and grandparents in their nineties have all learned to participate in group chats with family members all over the country and right next door.

One idea for solving that problem is to schedule weekly chats. You may be wondering just what a family can chat about for an entire hour. If you are in that group, here are a few suggestions to have your multigenerational family chat go smoothly and with lots of fun and laughter.

  1. Have a Lesson Online. Use the first chat time to have the younger ones “teach” the older generation the logistics of using the platform they are chatting on. It is amazing what you can learn about the computer from a four-year-old. Give people time to ask questions and practice a new skill. This will make things go easier in future chats.
  2. Online Dinner Party. Host a family online dinner party! Let each family know the meeting time. Ask them to plan to have pizza picked up or delivered to be ready at the appointed time. Gather the family around the dinner table, set exactly as you would for a family gathering. Once everyone is online together, begin with prayer and then start the meal. If you feel the need for discussion, ask each individual why they picked that particular thing to have for dinner. Follow up with dessert and warm exchange of good-byes.
  3. Across the Nation Bingo. Play a game of family bingo. Grandpa or Grandma will be the caller. Find a site that has printable bingo cards online and mail the link to family members so they can print their own cards. Make sure everyone uses the same site. We discovered that there were variations in the number of bingo numbers on cards. It doesn’t really matter how cards many you use as long as the whole family uses the same number.
  4. Grandparent Puppet Show. Grandparents can entertain their grandchildren by resurrecting their puppetry skills. Take simple puppets you find in the attic or socks with a face drawn on them to create characters. A brown paper bag or a cutout character on a stick also works nicely. Use a favorite Bible story or search online for a short puppet show.
  5. Ongoing Story. Start a story and let the first person set the scene for the story. One or two sentences works well. Then move to the next person who adds another few sentences. Continue until everyone has had a turn. Keep it moving quickly, especially if you have a large group.
  6. Family puppet show. Take turns having each family do a puppet show. Probably one or two per week is sufficient. You will find that the preparation and planning for the show becomes a fun family activity.
  7. What isn’t to love about a good game of charades? The “actor” acts out the words on their cards while the other team guesses. No spoken words allowed. The families on the guessing team turn their backs to the computer while you show the card to the one who will be acting. Put families together to have two teams and everyone will love the hilarity of all the guesses. If children are young, you may want to designate a category to help them narrow their guesses a bit.
  8. Online Fashion Show. There are many ways to conduct a family fashion show.
  9. You may want to designate a certain material for the fashion show. Outfits could be made out of the same materials like a brown paper bag, a pillowcase, or a newspaper. Toilet paper is always fun to work with fashion shows but because of the shortage, it wouldn’t be wise to waste that material.
  10. Have each participant dress as a character. You could specify a Bible character, a Disney character, a storybook character, or an animal. Or you could not specify at all and let each person dress up while the others guessed what character you are portraying. If the character is not immediately identified, a good game of “20 Questions” could help move the session along.
  11. History Night. Have each person share a piece of family history. Obviously, the stories of the grandparents will be treasures. But the little ones are constantly adding to the family history. Let them tell what things are important to them that will build on the current history of the family. You may have to guide the children by asking a question such as “What is the most fun thing we have done with our family?” or “What do we do as a family that you want to do with your children?”
  12. Heads Up! If you haven’t discovered this game, you are missing something. The game is downloadable on your phone. Divide into family teams. The person who is guessing holds the phone in front of his forehead and the timer is set. Others give clues to the person who is holding the phone hoping to get the person with the phone to say the name or object on the phone. This game is customizable so you can play with any skill level and everyone can see the words on their computers or devices.

It doesn’t take much to create a fun evening with the family, even if you are separated by many miles. Just because we are all staying at home, doesn’t mean we can’t create fun memories for our children and grandchildren. Activities you can do together will draw the family closer and create experiences that will bond the family together for a lifetime.

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