Activities for your next FaceTime call with your child

Thanks to the ever-developing capabilities of technology, the world is getting smaller, and now your long-distance family members never have to feel that far away.

Technology gives us the opportunity to speak face-to-face with people all over the world and, one of the many fantastic perks that comes with this, is the fact that long-distance parenting is more personal than ever before.

If you and your partner have gone through a separation, you may well find yourself living a considerable distance from your child. Even though it can never make up for seeing them in person as often as you’d like, now you can still see your child (yes, albeit through a screen) and chat to them on a regular basis. With a bit of creativity, these online chats can be a whole lot of fun for the both of you.

If nothing else, lockdown has certainly taught us how to adapt and be innovative, particularly when it comes to thinking of clever ways to keep in touch with loved ones, even when we can’t see them in person. So, now more than ever before, we’re making time for regular Zoom, Skype and FaceTime calls with our family members.

Some of you may have mastered the art of a family FaceTime by now. But, for those of you who still aren’t quite sure how to fill the awkward pauses, or plan a virtual activity for you and your child to do together, this blog post is dedicated to providing you with some handy tips and fun ideas for your next video call with your child.

This way, when you and your child do get to see each other in person again, you’ll be able to start up again just where you left off, like no time has passed at all.

Tips to ensure a seamless video call

There’s a real knack to getting video calls right. But, navigating this new terrain is well worth the effort, as video calls are a fantastic way to ensure that you are co-parenting effectively even on a long-distance basis. There are lots of clever little nuances that you can use to keep these video calls seamless, plus, adhering to these tips will help you to conduct them in a way that means you still hold an indisputable role in your child’s life.

Call at a time that suits you both

While they are a fantastic way to replicate a face-to-face chat, the downside of this feature is that they are less easy to squeeze into a schedule. So getting the timing of these calls right is key. Don’t call just before your child is due to go to bed (unless it’s a pre-planned call that is adapted to be specifically geared around their bedtime routine, which we will go into more detail later). Otherwise, you’ll only get a crabby, tired and emotional face at the other end of the phone. Or – and your co-parent won’t thank you for this – your call will get your child all excited, which means that there’s no chance of them getting to sleep on time.

Work with your co-parent to establish set call times that work well for all of you. That way, your calls will always come at a time that is convenient to everyone. Plus, the added bonus of the set routined calls is that you will demonstrate to your child how reliable and dependable you are, regardless of how far away you may be living.

Don’t put pressure on the call

It’s all too easy to plan out an idyllic video call in your mind, where everyone gets on, you have a lovely conversation, and your child is angelic the entire time. The odds are that this picture-perfect video call is pretty unlikely, and that’s ok.

Try not to go into the call with these big expectations, and put pressure on yourself to meet them. Keep the calls short and take cues from your child – don’t take it personally if they’re in a bit of a grumpy mood, suggest that you could call back tomorrow if they’d prefer. Video calls that take place little and often are likely to keep everyone happy, while having the added bonus that you and your child both feel like you’re keeping regular contact with each other.

Be intuitive with the conversation

This point encompasses a few different tips. First and foremost, don’t fill the call with your chatter (even if you tend to babble when you’re nervous!). Ask your child simple questions, so that your child feels that they have plenty of opportunities and room to speak.

As part of this, also try to help your child out a bit by guiding the conversation. They might not feel quite sure what to speak about, or even how to begin. Lead the way, and open up the chat with plenty of broad questions about topics that they are interested in.

If they’re younger, video calls can involve a lot of your child showing you things – whether it’s a new toy, or something seemingly completely random. No matter how bizarre their choice of thing to show you, keep encouraging them, as this will go a long way towards helping them feel like they are participating in the conversation.

Fun ideas for games via video call

When it comes to video calling children, the main thing to always bear in mind is that, while you may be able to call for a two-hour-long catch up with a friend, kids do not possess a great attention span. They’re bound to quickly get bored of chatting about their day. So, at this point in the call, it’s time to suggest that you play a game.

We’ve come up with a list of fun video call games that are easy to play and understand, and can be played spontaneously, without the need for any tools or equipment. With these ideas, you’ll always have a suggestion on hand to keep your video calls lively.

  • 20 Questions: Taking it in turns, one of you will come up with a person (this could be a celebrity, or even another member of your family!) and then the other can ask a maximum of 20 yes or no questions to try and figure out who it is.
  • Charades: After all, it’s a timeless family favourite for a reason.
  • Karaoke: Pick out a few fun duet songs that you and your child can sing along to together. Or (if you like a competition), you could take it in turns to sing a verse, and then rate each other out of 10. You could also turn it into a game of ‘Clap that song’. This simple game involves you both taking it in turns to clap the rhythm of a song, and the other player has to guess what song it is that they’re clapping.
  • Two truths, one lie: This is a shorter game, that is perfect for a quick call. You each take it in turns to make three statements, two of which are true and one which you have made up on the spot. The other person then has to guess which one is the lie.
  • The props game: This one is made for video calls. You each take it in turns to name an object, and then the other person has just 20 seconds to try to run and find the object in their house. You could play this with any objects – for example, you could ask them to go and find a hair brush, an apple, a toy dog, or even a glass of water.
  • Quick draw: This game involves you and your child racing against each other to quickly draw an item of your choice. The fastest player to draw the item wins!

As a long-distance parent, what you’re probably missing the most is being a part of your child’s day-to-day life. With these lively video call ideas, you and your child can both look forward to your regular conversations together, that fit around both of your schedules, and are full of fun for both of you! Long-distance parenting is no small challenge, but perfecting the art of video calls will go a long way towards helping you feel closer to your child, even despite the distance.

Article Created By Josephine Walbank

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