keeping connected with your family during lockdown
Portrait of author Manjit Curtis
Manjit Curtis

Head of Strategic Content & Communications

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Keeping connected with your family during COVID-19

By Manjit Curtis on April 7, 2020

Like many tech businesses, the Peak team are part of a big global family. We’re made up of multiple nationalities including Brits, Irish, Swedes, Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, Indians – the list goes on!

For some of us, our families are local, but for others they may be a few hundred – or even a few thousand – miles away. This, of course, isn’t easy – especially when we’re in a time when we want our loved ones to be closer than ever. 

With this in mind, we want to share our stories and our advice on keeping connected with your family during COVID-19 through the lens of two Peak team members – myself and my colleague Kirsty.

The definition of family

For us, there’s no in or out when it comes to family. Our definition of family is a combination of two or more people, bound through time, ties of mutual content and/or birth, adoption or placement – and those who take responsibility for various activities of daily living, including love. This blog is about the single parent, the extended family, the best friend – everyone who we see as part of our families.

Kirsty: tech and 10, 000 miles

With family in different continents and timezones, technology plays a huge part in the life of Kirsty, a Peak data scientist who is originally from New Zealand.

Connecting through technology

Whilst 24-hour news and constant notifications leading to experts encouraging us to limit the time we spend on social media, the benefits of social platforms shouldn’t be forgotten. They help us to maintain relationships with people we love and trust, which is vital for our mental wellbeing. It helps us feel closer, and less stressed.

For Kirsty, staying in touch with friends and family via social media and video calls is the only way she has to connect with her family members. Kirsty has family both back home in New Zealand as well as in the United States, and uses social media to remain connected and close to her family and friends.

“All the family is on Facebook Messenger, and if one time zone is asleep, there’ll be one of us on it somewhere to still talk to!” 

Everyday, normal stuff

When staring in the face of events that are scary and largely out of our control, it’s important to remain connected to those close to us through the “everyday normal stuff.” This isn’t about those negative emotions created by that endless stream of perfectly-posed Instagram lives, but about the joy and love of connecting through the reality of our daily lives with our loved ones.

“As a family, even though we’re apart, we still talk about what’s happened that day; work, weekend plans, my sister’s new office set-up…the normal stuff! My dad is great – he’s so chilled and just gives us lots of ideas for things to talk about, so the conversation flows even though we’re spread across continents.”

Manjit: Low-tech and 100 miles

For me, the family situation is different to that experienced by Kirsty. I have two elderly parents, both aged over 80. Of course, one of the most important rules that we all need to follow to prevent the continued spread of coronavirus is to stop all social visits – and that includes me going to see my parents. However, practicing social distancing hasn’t meant social isolation.

Encouraging social contact

I still use the old-school landline daily to talk to my parents about the everyday stuff, and I always ask them questions about how their usual circle of friends are to encourage a sense of togetherness.

In the past, I set my parents up with an iPad and gave them a crash course on basic emailing and photo sharing. It’s become a great tool for them, giving them the freedom to organise things like dinner parties, wine club evenings and make theatre bookings. Now, it’s a way for them to feel even more connected with their friends, and to feel just that little bit less lonely during the current pandemic.

Cards please!

One tip I’d give is to start sending out old-school notes, cards and postcards via mail. Encourage extended family to write, send silly pictures of the children, crack a few jokes – anything you can do to lift spirits!

This also encourages older parents to start reorganising their photos and memorabilia, and enjoy their stories and happy memories with the wider family, too.

Take things back to basics

Make sure you keep abreast of essential, up-to-date information from the NHS and other trusted sources – so that you can keep your friends and family informed, too. Knowledge can help to support allaying any well-founded – or occasionally unfounded – fears of family members.

Most importantly, make sure you keep talking to them about the basics needed for a strong mind and body. Encourage them to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes engaging in moderate exercise, keeping a healthy diet and getting regular sleep.

To summarise, staying connected with your family via the landline, e-mail, social media or video call is now more important than ever. It’ll help us all to feel happier, less stressed and more connected as this crazy situation continues to unfold around us, both now and in the months to come. If you’ve got any recommendations on other ways to stay connected with family and friends near or far, I’d love to hear from you.

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