Picture this: Two children, best friends for years, now separated by an ocean. They were so eager to chat online that they could barely eat breakfast, and now they sit in front of the computer. Finally!
Eagerly they exchange greetings, and for the first 3 minutes, conversation flows excitedly across continents. Then… silence. The awkward moment where they want desperately to keep talking, but they have no idea what to say.
What’s a Momma to do? This is the moment where a mother’s heart begins to question. How can I help them through this transition? Why on earth did I bring them here in the first place?
We recently moved overseas, and this moment has played out in our home several times over the past weeks. Inspired to work hard at keeping in touch, I brainstormed a list of ideas to help encourage better Skype chats that feel like real playtimes for my kids. Today, I’d like to share a few of our tested favorites.
1. Ask Questions. Remind your kids that their friends have things going on in their lives too, and those thing are still part of their friendship equation. I often have to prompt my kids with questions to ask. Sometimes I know things about their friend’s lives that help with this. If I know from Facebook that their friend was sick, or visited their Grandma, this is a piece of information I can feed to my kids to help keep conversation going.
2. Play Games. Connect 4, Hangman, and many other games can be played via Skype. Kids talk more while they are playing together.
3. Draw and Color. My daughter loves to color and draw, and so do most of her friends. They like to do a 10-minute draw, where for 1 minute they both draw with red, then another minute with red, and so on. After 10 minutes, they show each other their photos. They talk while drawing, free of self-conscious silence.
4. Plan listening dates. We often listen to an online radio station here, and it’s available anywhere. So the kids will set a time with their friends, and they both listen. Then they Skype and talk about the programs or songs they heard.
5. Let the kids give tours. This can be a little dicey with an expensive laptop and a small child, so often my husband and I will carry the laptop around the apartment or playroom, and let the kids show the person on the other end anything they want to share. Then we encourage their friends to do the same.
What other ideas have you implemented for helping your kids stay in touch with their friends while your family is deployed or serving overseas? Leave me a comment, I’d love to give them a try.