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Love from a Distance: 5 tips we recommend for grandparenting under quarantine

As part of an ongoing series about our changing lives under quarantine, we’re sharing some of the products, services and activities that have helped us stay connected with our friends, family, and colleagues.

Being away from our loved ones is never easy. While older demographics are disproportionately vulnerable to covid-19, children are more likely to be asymptomatic. Staying at home is said to be the most effective way of minimizing the transmission for the coronavirus, and for grandparents, the need to stay apart is more apparent. Intergenerational bonds can largely define who we are, but grandparents worldwide are coming to the realization that it may be months before they see their families again. According to Save the Children, the sudden change in their normal routine and a lack of in-person contact can cause anxiety, stress and confusion for kids. Although some of us may be used to long-distance relationships with our family members, others have been living in multigenerational households up until recently. Whatever the case, absence makes the heart grow fonder. In the face of a growing pandemic, how do we continue to nurture our relationships with our loved ones in a time when social distancing is the new normal?

To help grandparents through this particularly lonely time, we’ve hand-picked five tips and ideas to inspire grandparents to find ways to stay in touch with their loved ones.

Make their lives easier with a smart speaker

Instead of a touchscreen, enabling voice command with Google Home may benefit the elderly. Google Home is the in-house help that is perfect for anyone with mobility issues, impaired vision, or reduced dexterity. To set it up, family members can make an account for them online and help them remotely through video call. As a simple, hands-free control device, seniors can avoid the challenges from navigating a phone screen and ask for help the old-fashioned way. For entertainment, Google Home has games you can play with your voice and has audiobooks to read to you. When looking for answers or listening to the latest updates, seniors can ask Google Home. When we’re not there in person to remind them of important birthdays or medication times, Google Home can save  us the trouble. But no matter what, relatives are never too far as Google Home can dial a number too.

  • Google Home – starting at €99/£89/$99 and is available on the Google store. Google Nest Hub comes with a built-in screen for video calls and starts at €129/£119/$129.

Tell your own story with a Toniebox

Toniebox Starter Set red with Creative-Tonie in play room by Tonies

Grandparents have had exciting lives worth telling. Whether it’s a story to put the kids to bed or a tale in between meals, grandparents can illuminate a child’s imagination by recording their voices for kids to listen to. Skip over the classics and keep it personal by having grandparents recount their favorite memories, like how they met. As an interactive listening box, Tonieboxes come with a unique key that downloads the right audio adventure from the Toniecloud for kids to listen to at any time of the day. With the purpose of helping you tell your own story, Tonieboxes bring families together by giving grandparents the opportunity to reach out to their loved ones with a fun design that’s easy to use for grandparents and grandchildren alike.

  • Tonie Box – Starter Kit is available starting at €88.70/£69.95 on Amazon. You can get pre-recorded stories on a Tonie, or record your own story with Creative-Tonie.

Watch your grandparents’ childhood classics

Some movies never get old. While kids today grow up watching Frozen and Zootopia, grandparents can share a part of their childhood by revisiting their favorite childhood films. To make it even more family-friendly, parents can join in too by watching the films that they grew up seeing with their parents. This way, our favorite characters stay close to our heart and continue to live on from generation to generation. Disney’s online streaming service, Disney+ recently launched in Europe and includes our favorite titles dating back to the 1940s from the Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars universes as well as National Geographic. With up to four screens at a time, family members can watch the same movies simultaneously and stay connected despite the distance.

Didn’t grow up with Disney? Netflix offers a wide selection of family-friendly films with a dedicated children’s section and a deal for the family.

  • Disney+ is available on laptops, smart TVs, tablets, and iPhones starting at £5.99/$6.99/€6.99 per month. The price includes up to four simultaneous streams, 4K content and unlimited downloads on up to ten devices. O2 users get the first six months free.
  • Netflix is available at €11,99/£8.99/$12.22 per month for two screens and €15,99/£11.99/$15.56 a month, viewers can watch in Ultra HD on up to four devices at a time.

Start your own quarantine book club

Books are a tried and tested method to pass time and transport our minds elsewhere when we’re in the confines of our homes. For children, books also help develop literacy skills and serves as a refreshing offline activity compared to the screen time they are otherwise surrounded by. Grandparents can buy grandkids a subscription to a magazine or book delivery service and get the same one for themselves. When a new issue arrives in the mail, grandparents and grandkids can select a book to read together and talk about it over video call, phone, or email. For younger children, Amazon Prime Book Box curates and delivers books to your door tailored to their age and preferences. Six books can be delivered every one, two, or three months. Recommendations are based on Amazon’s Books Editors, customer ratings and reviews, and member profiles to select age-appropriate books for your child.

  • Prime Book Box saves Prime members up to 40% off for each book, and starts at $19.99/box.
  • An equivalent to the Prime Book Box in the United Kingdom is Bookabees. Children who want to learn Spanish or French may opt to subscribe to One Third Stories.
  • In Germany, you can get a book subscription for children with Librileo starting at €10/month.

Do things together with Zoom

Staying in touch and checking up on our loved ones is vital in times like these. One of our recommended ways to stay connected is to share an interest, and fortunately for us, video calls are here to stay. While Zoom may be the most popular tool nowadays, we’re also happy with Skype or Facebook Messenger for their ease of use and reputation: two things our grandparents often look for in a product. While museums and theaters have closed, we can still visit cultural sites from the safety of our homes (for free!) and talk about the tours on call. Multiplayer games are a big hit, and Matthew McConaughey sets an example for us by hosting a virtual game of bingo with his family for senior citizens. Some of us may already have shared hobbies, and with Zoom, family members can continue these rituals; whether that includes parallel painting to Bob Ross, joining a Zoom Yoga or meditation class, or asking grandma to guide you through her recipes.

  • Zoom is available for free on the App Store, Google Play Store, and Microsoft.

This pandemic has created conditions for a rise in domestic violence that young victims, spouses, and senior citizens may find difficult to protect themselves from. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers a tip sheet for parents dealing with stress over Covid-19. Advocates at the National Domestic Violence Hotline are available 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) in more than 200 languages. Survivors can also chat with advocates here.

Content made possible thanks to the support of Boxine GmbH.

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