We're on a grand new adventure, but everyone we left behind is still living their normal lives, they just have gaps sometimes where we we used to be. Family and friends want to keep in touch to make sure we are safe but also just to feel they are still connected. With several aging family members, we also need to be able to check in periodically and make sure everything is really “still ok”.
At times, it is easy for us to get so caught up in all of the new things we are seeing/doing and the new people we can easily forget to keep the folks back in Iowa up to date. One of our first commitments to ourselves when we decided to move to the RV full time, was that we would make a conscious effort to stay engaged with our parents and immediate family to head off any problems.
With technology so widely available and so powerful, there are many choices for how to communicate. What we have found is that the best way to keep in touch is best determined by the recipients' needs, not necessarily what is convenient for us. We've found some creative solutions and some tried and true solutions that work well for everyone. Here's a list of the methods we use to stay in touch with our loved ones.
We write regularly about our adventures on this blog, but it is much less personal than other types of communication. Blogging is the easiest for us since we write it once and then it is there for everyone to see when it is convenient for them. Everyone gets the same message and reads the same stories, too, so no one feels left out if we forget to tell them something. What we have found is that, especially with older folks, blogs just aren't their thing.
Sometimes a quick email just to check in and say hi is good – I try to include pictures of things we've seen or even just a funny meme that made me think of them. If you are like me, out of sight can also be out of mind, so for these folks, I set a calendar reminder for myself to send these types of emails.
Sometimes you just need to hear a friendly voice. I have a headset, so I try to get my calls in while I am walking the dog if my surroundings aren't too loud. Calls don't have to be long, just a quick touch base to check in. Pick regular times that work for both you and the callee so you have time to share.
For Apple users, Facetime is an amazing and easy way to let your people see and hear you. Its much easier to get a more holistic view of a situation when you can see and hear the person you are talking to. Again, these interactions don't have to be long, just enough to reassure both parties that all is well and catch up on what's new. We use Facetime a ton with our parents. They even get to see and talk to Bailey when we do this
We use text as a communication tool daily. I try to take a couple of pictures on our morning walk and share those with the folks back in Iowa to let them know we are thinking about them but still having a good time and seeing neat new things. This has been very effective for us and our families.
There are times when you just need to be there in person. Make sure you make the most of your trips to visit your loved ones by joining airline, hotel or rental car frequent user programs. There are some awesome perks and they add up more quickly than you might think. We often use our Harrah's Casino Rewards membership for free or greatly reduced lodging when traveling. Don't worry – you don't have to gamble much to start receiving significant discounts.
Whatever you do, don't make it a chore for yourself or you will come to dread it and you won't do it or you won't do it well. Find some way to share your adventures that is fun for you and also helps them feel included. I have made it part of my morning walk to find cool pictures to share via text. I enjoy it and its hardly a second thought now.
Always, when in doubt, just reach out!