One of the things long distance parents often struggle with is how to make long distance visitation fun. When the camera is on and you have your child’s attention for a half hour or an hour, what do you do other than talk? We come up with a great idea for virtual visitation! And then we are all out of ideas. Or maybe “we” is “I”. I would come up with a great idea and then be stuck. But I suspect you can relate.
Although we are familiar with video calls with others (intimately, at this point… thanks, covid!), having a video chat with other adults is very different than with a child. A kid has a shorter attention span and is play oriented. Further, a conversation about EBITDA is different than visitation chats, in which you are focused on strengthening your relationship.
So, what do you do when you know you need something to spice it up and are all out of ideas? Pick up Distance Contact Bible: The Ultimate Guide to great quality distance contact with your kids by Ted Rose. Ted wrote at length about his story and how he came to write the book here on the site, in 2018. The book is a culmination of his journey of turning lemons into lemonade.
Distance Contact Bible is now in it’s second edition! It’s updated with new tech and has some new ideas! Ted gives you ideas for virtual visitation from his own experience as a long distance parent. This book is perfect for new long distance parents and seasoned alike.
The product links to amazon products I recommend in this post are amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you purchase the advertised products on this page, you won’t pay any more for the product and I will earn a small commission, which helps support the site. Win win!
Now-a-days, people tend to ask about apps and games available on phones to play together. It’s a valid question. There are tons of games and apps available now that a long distance parent can play with their kids. But when I had a propensity to focus on things I could do with my son on the device we were using, I ran into inspiration brick walls. Looking at a screen together didn’t always translate into play, even when it was a game.
The Distance Contact Bible (affiliate link) does very briefly cover some of the technology and features in an app that can be helpful in certain contexts. When a feature like screen sharing or AR is mentioned, he tells you what apps can do it. But the beauty of this book is that it expands the scope of ‘fun’ to beyond the device. Many of his ideas for long distance visitation use real world objects and settings in concert with conversation and visitation time. They bring real life and personality into your time together and have the ability to create playful moments.
There are some very basic small things that will make you say “Oh, why didn’t I think of that?!”. Ideas that are quick and easy to try like playing hangman or entertaining callbacks after the goodbye. But there are lots of more inventive ideas that will take some prep time or props. The book also gracefully integrates technology with ideas for virtual visitation like virtual tours of museums and geocaching.
Beyond the specific ideas, there are ideas for long distance visitation that I immediately thought of variations on or other uses for. Ways to do something with an older kid or a younger kid. A way to use an activity in another context. Or a way to use a technology piece to do something different. Reading this was like a jumping off place for imagining fun things to do on a call.
Virtual visitation is a varied activity. Fun ideas for video chat aren’t the end all. Sometimes you might use a gaming console to play together. Other times, you might have a phone call. Still other times, you have a video chat about a thing that is happening. And sometimes you’ll want to go back to a favorite activity you both love doing together. But when I was doing virtual visitation with my son, this is the book I wish I’d had in my toolkit. It covers young kids to older kids, indoors and outdoors, high tech and low tech. It’s a go-to resource when you need to mix it up or throw something fun into the mix. A perfect compliment to round out your virtual visitation tool set.
‘Contact’ with kids is the moment of excitement and surprise when you find someone playing hide and seek. It is the tension and laughter when someone moves playing musical statues. It’s the moment you turn up on the doorstep to pick them up, dressed as a medieval knight. It is the moments that you and they will always remember.And it doesn’t have to be physical. It happens more and more frequently in our electronically connected world by video call. As a distance parent or grandparent, remember that contact with your children is not just about turning up, it’s about the fun of getting involved in activities that can make those special moments happen.And that is where I hope this book will help.The D.C.B. is your ultimate guide, containing over 70 sections of advice and activities to help you get started and keep going with great quality distance contact.book description on amazon