While we all understand the need to practise social distancing or self-isolation during this pandemic, we also know how important it is to keep in touch with friends and family. With many of us falling within the ‘high-risk’ category, this time can be particularly difficult, especially if you’re usually the one looking after the grandchildren while their parents are working. Being apart from them for a prolonged period of time, with no clear end in sight, can be very difficult.
But not to worry, as our users have found, there are still ways to help out and stay connected to your grandchildren, without putting ourselves - or them - at risk.
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As we get older, our risk of being isolated - along with the mental and physical toll this can take - increases. Many of us are used to living alone, but now, with self-isolation and other restrictions in place which prevent us from going out and meeting up with friends and family, for most people this is a totally new way of living. But being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely - and gransnetters have plenty of tips to stay connected.
“I’ve never been any good at thinking about myself - I always need to be ‘looking after’ someone else. First my children, then my nan, then my mum and dad, then my grandkids. This is why I’m mentally flapping that there’s no contact, no-one to do anything for.”
The good news? This is probably the best time in history to find ourselves isolated. We can arrange for deliveries of food and other essentials through online supermarkets - if relevant, you can register yourself as vulnerable here - and we can keep in touch in myriad ways. Apart from the obvious - calling and texting - there are so many ways social media can be used to bring families together. Many gransnetters have already set up family Whatsapp groups and used video calling through apps like Facebook Messenger and Zoom.
“My son has set up a "Google hangout" (no, me neither) in which we can have a group video meeting with all the family on Sunday. He also says he went to a virtual pub last night - not sure how that works either!”
So far we have come across virtual pub nights (everyone online with their choice of tipple and a bag of crisps), book clubs, music groups and choirs, communal family meals - all conducted online. Have a google or keep an eye on your local Facebook groups to see what's happening in your area.
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The short answer is yes...with a bit of creativity.
The current advice from the government is clear. "People should not meet friends or family members who do not live with them."
Many parents are now working from home and although this means that at least an adult is present, most parents are discovering that juggling a full day's work alongside childcare/home-schooling is quite a challenge. Luckily many grandparents are coming to the rescue by using technology to distract or even teach grandchildren via video calls.
Whether it's reading books, telling stories, sharing jokes, watching TV 'together' at the same time, there are lots of things you can do to help stave off boredom while we are all stuck inside. Some great ideas from our users include:
"I have made a video for my grandson in the US, showing him how to make a paper aeroplane. It'll keep him out of his mum's hair for eight minutes. To my granddaughter, I am sending letters with pictures to colour, and will follow up with songs, poems, jokes, recipes and things to make and do."
“I have sent an individual letter to my grandchildren with a packet of vegetable seeds to plant (the ones they like) with some jokes and will do this as long this goes on. Everyone likes to get a letter.”
“If you are able to get hold of something like play-doh and your granddaughter has some, you could challenge one another to copy what each of you are making over a video call.”
“I'd have a load of props just out of sight… daft hat, weird ornament… make her guess what's in your hand… each new thing will make her laugh.”
Take a look at our forums for some more great ideas.