Grandparents, thank you for FaceTiming and learning how to use Zoom during this quarantine

We miss you a lot, and we're SO glad we can stay connected this way.

grandparents facetiming during pandemic

My daughter is 12, and one thing she knows for sure is she loves her grandparents. Two of them live just three blocks away from us here in Upstate New York. Every Tuesday after school she usually walks to their house, makes dinner with them and feels loved. She knows she's lucky to have them so close, and they delight in this regular ritual.

Her other grandma, affectionately known as Gigi, lives all the way across the country in California. We take turns visiting, and in-between visits, we email and Facetime. The next visit was scheduled for Passover/Easter this year.

Intergenerational rituals are built into my daughter's very being. She has been practicing them her whole life. In fact, many times she has told us that if something happens to us, she'll move in with her grandparents. None of this is a surprise.

But what happens now? How does one sustain these connections in the coronavirus era, especially since Grandma and Gigi are in their 70s with minor (but notable) chronic health issues?

Being a sociologist of aging, I know how important social connections are for all of us. Daily survival and thriving are dependent on social connection. Luckily, these elders are, as I call them, technogenarians. They have smartphones and/or iPads they know how to use and they are comfortable with Facetime. But even if they didn't know about these things, I'm certain we could work things out "old school."

So here's where we are at with grandparent time, as of today, knowing that as things change, we will adapt.

Grandma Gigi in California has a standing date with us for "brunch" on Thursdays. We Facetime while she eats breakfast at 10 am PST time and we eat lunch at 1 pm EST time. This past week we made a pot of soup and slurped our way through it at the kitchen counter while she sat at her dining room table munching on cinnamon toast.

In between bites we covered so many topics and engaged so genuinely, it was almost like we were there with her! (You can always use speakerphone if Facetime isn't an option.)

Additionally, Gigi has worked with my daughter to pick out a puzzle they will each work on in their respective homes in the weeks ahead, over Facetime. (I laughed when I saw their recent puzzle choice featured puppies eating fried chicken on a picnic blanket!) I am thankful for this project for many reasons—most importantly, though, I know their virtual puzzle dates will give my daughter a break from self-quarantine time with mom.

Last weekend, NY Grandma and Papa reluctantly signed on to a family video chat with us on Zoom. (Zoom offers free 40-minute conference sessions, you just need to download the app.) There are livestream images of all five of us, each in our own square, on the top of the screen like the Brady Bunch. We pointed and laughed and then wondered aloud why Grandma's image was so blurry. (Maybe she hasn't cleaned the camera lens in a while?)

These newly adopted rituals are working (at the moment) with the grandparents, but we are also using "old school" methods to engage the other important elders in our life—our close friends and neighbors in these seven ways.

1. Playing pen pal with nursing home friends.

2. Leaving inspirational chalk messages and drawings in their driveways (with their permission), like "Life is beautiful" or "Welcome spring!")

3. Lending books informally through local networks.

4. Dropping off a plant/seedling "friend."

5. Recommending a book and/or a movie to watch together and then texting about it.

6. Deciding on a common recipe to try and then comparing notes

7. Calling each other!

In these uncertain times, who knows what tomorrow will bring? But for now, we have rituals in place everyone can look forward to, and hopefully carry through for a few months if need be.

Regular routines and social connections will not only keep us thriving, but may even deepen our intergenerational relationships.

Looking for another super convenient way to stay in touch? Check out Loop!

Loop digital display

Loop digital display

Forget what you know about digital photo frames. The Loop is all that and then some. Paired with a free app, it sets up in minutes to instantly share photos, videos and even video chat with far flung loved ones anywhere in the world. It's super simple to use and even allows you to set up "channels that keep photos organized. Grandma and grandpa will never have to nudge you for photos again.


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

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Tenth & Pine: Gender-neutral and butter-soft basics for littles + bigs

In 2016, after a stage four endometriosis diagnosis and a 10 year battle with infertility, Tenth & Pine founder Kerynn got her miracle baby, Ezra Jade. As a SAHM with a Masters in Business, she wanted to create a brand that focused on premium quality, function, comfort, and simplicity.

She sought out premium, all natural fabrics and factories that shared her core values, practicing environmentally friendly manufacturing methods with fair and safe working conditions for employees. As a result, her made in the USA, gender-neutral designs check all the boxes. The sustainable, organic basics are perfect for everyday wear, family photos and any adventure in between.

Lucy Lue Organics: Sustainably and ethically-produced modern baby clothes

This family-owned and operated business was started by a mama who wanted out of corporate America after the birth of her son. Thoughtfully designed to mix-and-match, Lucy Lue's sustainably and ethically produced collection of modern organic baby clothes only uses fabrics that are "environmentally friendly from seed to seam." Their gorgeous, earthy tones and comfy, minimalist styles make the perfect addition to first wardrobes from birth through the first years.

Sontakey: Simple bracelets that speak your mind

Sontakey has been such a hit in the Motherly Shop that we knew it was time to expand the line. And since these beautiful mantra bands look so stunning stacked, more options = more fun.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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Recently, I saw a funny meme about the multiple benefits of coconut oil. It said: "Frizzy hair? Coconut oil. No shaving cream? Coconut oil. Dry skin? Coconut oil. Bad credit? Coconut oil. Boyfriend acting up? Coconut oil."

When it comes to parenting, we have our own magical coconut oil. It's called: special time.

Child having multiple meltdowns a day? Special time. Child whining incessantly? Special time. Child repeatedly antagonizing his sibling? Special time. Jeans too tight? Special time. Don't know what to make for dinner? Special time.

Okay fine. Special time won't exactly get you into a smaller pair of jeans, but I'm convinced it's the antidote to most parenting-related issues.

What is special time and why is it important?

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