One of the interesting things that I have discovered since moving to Portland is that so many of the other parents I meet while we are out and about have also relocated to this wonderful city. It has been fun to get to know people originally from different parts of the country and world, and to share our favorite spots in our new hometown. But, it also has gotten me thinking about the different ways that we are all keeping in touch with our family and friends who live elsewhere. My family has been lucky enough to take a few extended trips back to Maine since moving here two years ago. In between visits, we’ve developed a few fun family routines and activities to help us keep in touch with our family and friends!
We have a drawer in our kitchen island that has a variety of mailing materials that are available to use anytime the snail mail mood strikes! Some of my favorites to keep in stock include blank cards from the Dollar Spot at Target, blank watercolor postcards and different sheets of stickers to decorate or mail to friends. Once they finish the card and tell me who they created it for, we address the envelope together, put a stamp on it and drop it in the mailbox.
We’ve started collecting postcards from the different places around Oregon and the rest of the Pacific Northwest that we visit. It’s gotten hard to mail some of them away, so now we pick up two! One to keep for our own memories and one to share with a family member or friend in a different part of the country. Looking for postcards to purchase has turned into sort of a scavenger hunt for us while traveling … the built-in kid entertainment is always a bonus!
Last Spring, a family friend mailed us a Flat Stanley as part of a school project. It was so fun to take pictures of Flat Stanley in different places around Portland and Oregon and send information back to his class about all of the interesting places we have access to. It was so much fun in fact, that we’ve started gifting friends that are moving away with a copy of the Flat Stanley book and a paper Flat Stanley of their own. Now we can keep in touch by trading pictures back and forth of the different places we go, even though we are so many time zones apart!
We’ve started keeping a calendar on our fridge specifically to celebrate the birthdays of all of the special people in our life, near and far. Sometimes, I have our life organized enough to get a card in the mail ahead of time, but often, we reach out with a text or phone call or a social media message. Checking the calendar has become a fun weekly routine that we look forward to as a family. It often leads to conversations about memories that we have or a request to look at pictures or videos with that person.
I have such a love/hate relationship with social media, as I’m sure so many of us do. I love how it can keep us in touch with family and friends, how it can connect us to our new community, and how it can serve as a virtual scrapbook … who doesn’t love those “on this day” reminders!? At the same time, I try to be aware of how often my kids see me looking at a screen throughout the day. In an effort to integrate the two, I use social media to share funny moments from our day or pictures of places we go, but also to show my kids the pictures and videos that our family and friends from a distance share.
What are ways that you keep in touch with your family and friends who don’t live close by?