Family Connections: Keeping in Touch Across the Miles

Family Connections: Keeping in Touch Across the Miles

[Editor’s note: Saving Memories Forever blogger Stephanie Pitcher Fishman shares her tips on keeping in touch with family and friends in a digital age.]

Because of the digital age in which we live, communicating with family and friends seems easier than ever before. Gone are the days of waiting until the party line has been cleared before you can say Happy Birthday to Aunt Edna. However, because of the busy-ness of our home and business lives, are we actually reaching out as often as we should? As part of our continued series on positive change and inspiration in 2013, Saving Memories Forever encourages you to find ways to keep in touch with loved ones more often.

Choose Low-Tech

Gone are the days of ladies having their own writing desk specifically for the purpose of updating the family on the latest news of the household. Yet, letter writing can still be a fun way to keep in touch with others. Whether you are writing to young or old family members, everyone still enjoys receiving surprises in the mail. Writing letters is a lost art. But it can result in a wonderful piece of ephemera for later generations. Unless, of course, you request that your letters be burned as Abigail Adams did; luckily her husband John Adams ignored her request!

In this time of smartphones and Bluetooth it is easy to slip in a quick phone call to a loved one while you are running errands or otherwise multitasking. Phone calls are still the most common way to keep in touch, and the power of voice is undeniable. The excitement over a recent event can be felt just as palpably as if you were in the same room. Hearing emotion in a family member’s voice makes the miles between you fall away.

Going High-Tech

Do you wish you could see your relative’s face while you chat and catch up? Now you can with on-line communication tools such as Skype! An easy method of video chat, Skype is free to download and once you register you are ready to connect with friends and family. Look to the premium version of Skype if you want access to features including group calling or dialing directly to a land line or cell phone. As a bonus, Saving Memories Forever can be used alongside Skype to capture all of your special family stories! Easy-to-follow instructions on recording your stories via Skype can be found in the Saving Memories Forever User Manual linked in the “How It Works” section of our website.

Tips for Staying in Touch

  • Determine what type of connection speaks to you: high-tech or low-tech. If you tend to gravitate towards digital options, check out smartphone apps that make it easier to keep in touch with loved ones. These include apps related to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and communication tools such as Skype. If you are more of a low-tech person, purchase some new stationary and a pen that just feels nice to hold. If you are surrounded by tools to connect with others, then time available to do so will present itself more often.
  • Determine who you want to connect with in your circle: teens or adults. If you are reaching out to the younger generation in your family focus on contact that is short and frequent. Ask them singular questions to help you identify their interests. Instead of asking what styles of music they like, ask them what band they listen to most often. They will mention their favorite which will open up the conversation to discuss something more specific.If you are reaching out to adult friends and family, make sure you connect with them on topics of current interest as well. College-aged relatives are likely thinking of the next stage of life; Adults are probably juggling multiple projects and schedules. A weekly email may be more welcome than a weekly phone call if they are balancing work, kids, and families of their own.

    For corresponding with an elderly family member, share stories of your life and ask them to share their stories as well. Building bridges between the generations is an easy way to continue the conversation and encourage them to share their wisdom and memories. Don’t forget to record these stories using an app such as Saving Memories Forever!

  • Determine a time that works for your schedule: weekday or weekend? If you make connecting with others a priority, make sure that you are setting yourself up for success rather than failure. If your family has a busy week-day schedule choose a time during the weekend that can dedicated to reaching out to others. If you are a planner, make a list of who you’d like to connect with and put it on the calendar. Make it an appointment you intend to keep!

Whatever the method, enjoy your time with family and friends. Reach out along the branches of your family tree to create and strengthen the relationships that keep you rooted!