One of the most difficult aspects of moving to a new country is leaving those you love behind. If you have children, keeping in touch with extended family back in the UK is even more important. Unfortunately, it’s often easier said than done.
With their short attention spans, it can be an uphill battle trying to get kids to have a phone conversation with their grandparents. Likewise, sitting still for a video call can quickly become a chore. And let’s not even get started on the cost of overseas postage – save those care packages for special occasions!
If you want to create a positive environment for kids to connect with family around the world, here are a few tried and tested options:
A fantastic app that is still a well-kept secret, Caribu is an interactive video calling app. Imagine Zoom, but fun. Only one account needs a subscription in order to call the other, and both parties can explore a range of activities. There are games, colouring pages and a library full of books that a grandparent can read while the child turns the pages. I can’t recommend this one enough.
Board Game Arena
If you have older children (8+), what better way to connect with loved ones than a family board game night? Board Game Arena is, well, exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a website that allows people from around the world to play games together. The site is free to use, but for around $8.50NZD a month (or $52NZD a year) you can become a premium member, which allows you to create private games and invite your friends and family. Games include classics like Hearts and Yahtzee, as well as modern favourites Ticket To Ride, Catan and King Of Tokyo.
Don’t be afraid of its slightly clunky landing page, once you’ve signed up, the site itself is fantastic.
BackThen (previously LifeCake) is a fantastic app for keeping your extended family in the loop. Share pictures of your kids to your heart’s content, without clogging up your social media feed. Add videos, notes and stories, and see comments and reactions from your loved ones. Your BackThen account can only be accessed by invitation and acts as a great digital photo album.
This one takes a little prep but is such a great way to keep the kids engaged. Set up the video app of your choice and have Granny, Aunt Susan or Uncle Andrew lead an activity with the kids. A favourite in our house is baking biscuits with Granny – she sends the list of ingredients over in advance and then talks the kids through the process step-by-step as they mix, measure and stir together. And at the end, we all get biscuits, result!
If your family members aren’t keen bakers, substitute a hobby they enjoy – puzzles and art are other winning ideas.