One topic that continues to creep in everyone’s mind is “Connectedness”. What does that mean? How do we connect with others and stay connected? You asked your questions, and Jennifer Stewart, EFMP Manager along with Kelli Irish with the MFMP Team responded.  

 

Q: What are some of the best ways to keep kids connected to family and friends through PCS moves?

A: Here are some easy ways to keep kids connected through all that military life has to offer:

  • Many children already have access to social media platforms to stay connected and there are also platforms designed for younger children to help them stay connected. For a good place to start looking for which platform suits your needs check out Social Media Networks Made for Children.
  • Go low tech!  Writing an actual letter is very old school for our modern kids. Rekindle the old tradition of a pen pal.  
  • Ask your kids for a list of their top 10 things/places/people they will miss when they PCS. With the help of their friends, create a memory book with pictures, funny stories, brochures, etc. Have them put their contact information in it to keep in touch. It’ll be a great keepsake.
  • Another great old school way to stay connected is making ‘real phone calls.’ Just sitting on the porch and chatting does wonders for the PCS blues.

 

Q: Is the traditional play date (for kids) over? Any new recommendations since the playgrounds are still closed?

A: Ah, yes – COVID has affected so many things in our lives as of late, but there are plenty of play dates and activities for kids that we can use.

  • There are outdoor activities that can be modified for social distancing: group bike rides, hikes/nature walks, ice skating or snowshoeing. 
  • Hula Hoop Simon Says is an innovative way to keep young kids socially distanced while feeling connected to their friends. Set up hula hoops the proper distance apart with each child staying inside their hoop. The same Simon Says rules apply. Bonus activity can be a hula hoop picnic afterwards. 
  • Noodle Tag is a great take on a classic. All you need is a large enough space, indoors or out, music, and pool noodles. Pick a person to be ‘It’ and they use the pool noodle to tag the others. The person that was tagged gets a noodle and becomes “It”.
  • Play Freeze Dance. This game is great for the whole family to get silly with. The rules are simple, everyone dances and freezes their position when the music stops. They have to hold that position until the music restarts. If they can’t instead of being ‘out’ they’ll be given a silly task to do. For example: jump on one foot while quacking. Note: You can utilize the hula hoops for this one too!

Q: Even if we aren’t allowed to connect in person due to COVID-regulations and FaceTime/virtual “hang outs” have become almost tiresome; what are some other ways to connect?

A: Whether you’ve PCS’d away from great friends, have a deployed parent, or are far away from family, there are plenty of things to connect with the ones you love that are fun and innovative.

  • Make your virtual hangouts more interactive and fun. Host a version of Chopped using random ingredients and have parents or siblings be the judges. Do a sing along or play name that tune. You can even hold a STEM challenge with household items. 
  • Plan a scavenger hunt. Create a list of places, people, and things, and set a deadline. The first person to post the most items checked off wins!  A scavenger hunt in the current socially-distanced environment can occur practically anywhere and at any time.
  • Try geocaching. Geocaching is a worldwide multiplayer treasure hunt where people search for scavenger items or the ‘cache’ using GPS coordinates. It's a great way to get outside and maintain social distance. You can set up your own caches for your group or look for the locally established caches. Learn more and get started at http://www.geocaching.com
  • Plan a socially-distanced gathering; nature walks, picnics, fishing, or a bonfire and s’mores. Ask the kids what they want to do and involve them in planning how to make it a socially-distanced event based on your local rules.

 

Q: We're about to go through another round of distanced birthdays in my house. Besides "drive by's" are there any other creative ways to celebrate to show our kids some connection?

A: Many of us are looking for something to mark our next birthdays with COVID hanging around. We can’t do the same thing as we did last year! Just because we’re in a world of social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t make the most and really celebrate our family and friends.

  • Plan a virtual birthday game night. Have cupcakes or small cakes and/or ice cream delivered to all the guests you would invite to your party under “normal” circumstances. You can send balloons and decorations too for some added fun. Choose a classic game like Charades or Pictionary or a board game all guests have, log into your favorite virtual hangout and play!
  • Host a virtual pajama party. Kids of all ages love a sleepover and with social distancing they have been yearning to hang out with their friends. Send the necessary supplies/props to all the guests and let the kids handle the rest.
  • Hold a virtual version of “Nailed It” competition. It is fun, interactive and best of all, it can get messy! Instead of trying to copy a specific design go with a theme and use all the fun toppings and decorating ideas you can think of. You can use either cupcakes or cookies. The end result may not be pretty (or maybe it will), but it'll be tasty.
  • Create DIY party boxes so everyone can party at home in spirit. Set up a drive-by party table where everyone can come pick up their box, sign a birthday card and drop off their gift. With the party box everyone can have a party of their own with the goodies you give them.