I miss family who live far away—so FaceTime makes a huge difference

It's become a familiar part of their bedtime routine. They FaceTime their grandparents during bathtime or before book negotiations and they get to recount their day or say goodnight with virtual kisses and hugs.

I miss family who live far away—so FaceTime makes a huge difference

My children are never going to know a life without FaceTime. That's wild. I didn't even have Facebook until the end of freshman year in college! I still had a flip phone then! I texted with T9 until I was like 23!

FaceTime, to them, is a normal way to call their grandparents and aunts and uncles to say hi. It's something to do when they're bored at home. It's a way to see family that lives far away, and even to check in on what their cousins are doing in the next town over.

They argue over who is going to hang up when they're done ("I want to press the red button!") and who gets to hold the phone when we're chatting. And I'm sure they've caused some nausea on the other end of our calls based on the way they run around like maniacs when they do get their turn to hold it. (Blair Witch Project, Toddler Edition. Sorry, family!)


My parents and one of my sisters live five hours south of us, and my husband's parents live three hours north of us. Plus, I have a brother and sister-in-law across the country. So we have used FaceTime for some of our biggest, happiest moments—to include the people we love most in the celebrations we wish they could be there for in person.

Singing happy birthday at parties, finding out whether we were having a boy or a girl, right after our siblings have gotten engaged, meeting our newborn babies fresh out of the womb, before the first day of school, on Christmas morning, when we were away on our special trip to Ireland and when they were in Disney, for lots of our kiddo's firsts like rolling over, trying solid food, and walking.

It makes me sad, sometimes, to think about missing out on each other's lives just because we don't live by one another. I can't run over to my New York sister's house to see her daughter in the cute pajamas we got her, but they can FaceTime us to show us.

I can't jump on a plane to zoom over to California the second my nephew is born, but I can FaceTime to see his beautiful little face shortly after he makes his debut. I couldn't make it to my sister's baby shower because I was suuuuper pregnant, but I was FaceTimed in for a bit to join the fun.

FaceTime is there for everyday moments, too. My middle daughter literally played hide and go seek with my father-in-law on FaceTime the other day for like 15 minutes. She would put the phone in the refrigerator of her play kitchen then run away or put him in a box with the top on and giggle uncontrollably. And Grandma FaceTimed with them recently while they were eating their lunch, and she read books to them for about a half hour while I tidied up the house! (That was probably the most useful FaceTiming we've ever done.)

We FaceTime whenever they want to see Uncle Pat's dogs in Cali or Nana and Poppa's birds in New York… when they want to show Aunt Kelly something they just learned… or when they want to see either of their great grandpas to chat (which their bond with them is thanks in part to staying connected over Facetime!).

It's become a familiar part of their bedtime routine. They FaceTime their grandparents during bathtime or before book negotiations and they get to recount their day or say goodnight with virtual kisses and hugs.

I realize that having the ability to FaceTime is a privilege we now have in our lives. It's not something I grew up with, but something my siblings and I definitely could have benefitted from. Especially in terms of our maternal grandparent relationship—they lived all the way in South Carolina and we didn't get to see them as much as we wished we did.

That's why I'm grateful for Facetime. It definitely doesn't replace real face time—nothing could compare to an in-person hug or hanging out together IRL—but it does provide a sweet buffer in the in-betweens.

When they ask to call someone, they usually automatically mean a FaceTime call, not an actual phone call. And I love that they get to see the faces of the people they're looking to connect with. It's a little something that always brings a lot of joy to their days and I know it is helping to strengthen the important relationships in their lives.

They may not get to be with all the people they love every day, but at least they can see them if they want. (Well, if they stop shaking the phone so much and hold it high enough for the other person to see their face and not just their chin…)

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    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

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    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


    Detective set

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    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


    Sand play set

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    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


    Wooden bulldozer toy

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    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


    Pull-along hippo

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    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


    Meadow ring toss game

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    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


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