5 Tips for Staying Connected with Friends and Family
I’m quickly approaching my 9th year of living far away from my family and friends; the closest I’ve lived over the 9 years was a 5 hour flight and the farthest was a 24 hour trip. While it is my choice to live so far away (and I do love the experiences it brings) it can be difficult to maintain relationships with parents, siblings, other close family members, and friends. But it is possible to maintain and even grow these relationships as long as you are willing to put in a little bit of work. Here are my five favorite tips for staying connected with friends and family:
If you’ve not heard of it before, Skype is a really awesome video chat service that is free if calling from one Skype account to another. Being able to video chat with friends and family is such a great way to stay in touch and even feel like you are much closer to each other than you actually are. I have a weekly Skype date with my parents while they are eating breakfast and I’m cooking dinner. It really feels special to spend part of my day with them each week and to catch up on what’s new almost in person.
Though flying back to visit my family in the U.S. gets expensive, this is also easily one of the best ways to build relationships. When I visit the U.S., my son gets to spend days with his grandparents, we lounge at the beach, and sometimes we even vacation together. The memories we build certainly out-weigh the cost of the flight.
At this point in my life my friends are scattered all over the world, but I do my absolute best to visit when I can. This means budgeting and planning, often times way in advance, so that we can manage a visit. Visits certainly don’t happen every year, and sometimes not even every other year, but when they do happen, they are truly a special, wonderful time for everyone. These visits re-charge our relationships and bring us even closer.
WhatsApp is relatively new to me, but I love it. This phone app allows you to message friends, send pictures, and make phone calls to other users around the world — also for free! I love that I can message a friend a picture of our home, or send my sister a picture of her nephew. Real time chats are just like sending text messages, but without the high international costs.
4. Celebrate important dates
One of my very close friends who lives very far away just told me she is pregnant with her second child. I’m super excited for her and as soon as she told me, I started making a little list of items I’d like to send her to welcome the little one, and to treat her older son. Celebrating births, birthdays, weddings, and other important events are essential for feeling closer and more connected with friends and family who aren’t close enough to drop by.
Though living so far away means I don’t get to be at every birthday party or graduation, I can still let my loved ones know that I’m thinking of them by sending letters, postcards, small gifts, or simply writing an email.
Emails are a quick, easy, and free way to stay in touch with loved ones from afar. This is also probably the most obvious way to keep in touch and works pretty well even with those who are not so tech savvy.
If you, too, live far away from family or friends, keep in mind that you may lose touch with some people over time. Though it can be sad to see relationships change or disappear, do try to remember that you’re lives are following different paths and you’re both filling it with different experiences and new friends.