I remember when I was a little girl, my great uncle would host a New Years Eve party for our entire family. I remember running around with my cousins and making as much noise as we possibly could when midnight struck. Somewhere along the way the parties stopped happening, we all got older, and some people even started having kids. This past weekend we laid my great aunt to rest and while I’m still trying to figure out how the world will keep spinning without her, it was amazing to see and spend time with majority of my family. As the weekend concluded and I browsed all the pictures people had posted on Facebook, it made me realize I’ve missed my family quite bit and I want to make more of an effort to stay connected to them.
5 Tips on How to Stay Connected to Your (Extended) Family
The Boy’s family gathers on a fairly regular basis, all of the major holidays and many birthdays. Participating in these events has not only made me feel like a member of his family, but has made me realize how seldom I see my own family. With the hustle and bustle of life, it’s very easy to let days turn to weeks and weeks into months. It is very easy to say “oh well I’ll call them next time,” but at some point we have to stop putting it off and make it happen today. As I reflected on the weekend, I started to brainstorm ways I could stay connected to my family and realized I’m probably not alone in wishing I had some tips, tricks, and strategies to stay connected to my family.
Create a family GroupMe
The Boy’s family has a GroupMe. We share accomplishments, plan holidays, make family announcements, share jokes, and more. It’s a simple way for all of us to be able to communicate with one another quickly. Generally speaking, GroupMe is pretty easy to navigate once it’s downloaded to your phone. What I really like is that even when someone changes their number, they’re still in the GroupMe because it is associated with an email address, not just their phone number. GroupMe also allows you to “at” members of the group which basically lets you grab their attention.
Make sure you’re friends on Facebook
Facebook is the easiest way to keep up with your extended family. Regardless of age, everyone is basically on Facebook these days. I’ve totally caught myself stalking my cousin’s pictures, commenting, and even mentioning the pictures the next time I see them. Because of our natural tendency to share major life events on facebook, you can probably stay pretty up to date on what’s going on in their lives by regularly checking your facebook feed.
Nothing is better than taking time out of your day to pick up the phone and call your loved ones. It is especially nice to call those family members who are a tad older and/or may not use Facebook. My older cousin called me last week just to talk about life and I so very much cherished our conversation…and I don’t even like talking on the phone. As he asked me my opinion on stuff, it made me instantly feel closer to him and created a desire to maintain our newly refurbished relationships.
Holiday Gift Exchange
Exchanging gifts during the holidays can quickly become expensive, even when you’re only shopping for those that live under the same roof as you. Depending on the size of your family, it may not be feasible to buy each person a gift. Instead, I recommend more of “Secret Santa” style gift exchange. Sites like DrawNames.com allow you to enter everyone’s name and email address and it will automatically assign everyone a person to buy a gift for. Not even the person who inputs the names and email address will know who has been assigned to who. As an added feature, recipients can create gift lists for their gift giver to shop from. If you’re family decides to do a holiday gift exchange, I highly recommend a budget being set and agreed to before information is collected and distributed.
Plan family get togethers
Planning family get togethers is the real bread and butter for how to stay connected to your family, but it is also the hardest one to do. Family reunions can sometimes be burdensome, time consuming, and expensive to plan, but family get together don’t have to be a full scale family reunion. Some ideas that I’m hoping to try with my own family include bowling, game night, potluck style dinners, trips to the movie, and cookouts in the summer. If it isn’t feasible to involve everyone every time, maybe you can “restrict it” to cousins or if there is a local event geared toward small children maybe everyone with an age appropriate child can attend the event together.
Staying connected to your family requires effort from all parties, which may not always be equal. Someone has to decide to remain steadfast and be persistent. I’m hoping if I become this person for my family, we can get in the habit of seeing each other more often and stay connected.
Do you keep in touch with your extended family?
What’s your favorite way to stay connected to your extended family?