spending quality time together while apart

By Madeleine Kates

With cold weather, COVID, and flu season underway, it may be difficult to get together with friends and family. However, this does not need to mean missing out on quality time. Here are some ideas on how to make the most of socializing while still physically distancing:

Recipes: Food brings everyone together, and cooking reminds us of special events and people we love. Instead of physically preparing and sharing a meal, pull out one of your family’s favorite recipes, and recreate it at the same time over a video call. Each household can choose one of Great Aunt Bettie’s recipes to see which are keepers to be put together into a modern version of the family recipe book, or a special collection of recipes for future generations. Decipher handwritten notes left by a remembered loved one, or find the fun in trying something new. If you make it through all of your family’s recipes, swap favorites with neighbors or friends. 

Find memories: Before digital media, there were shoe boxes that held photos and dog-eared letters. Take time as a family to go through the untouched mementos in everyone’s household, and make a collective album. Use the opportunity to reminisce and learn about past family members, preserving the cherished collection that can now be saved and duplicated so pieces of family history stay together throughout the years to come. This makes a great gift for a special holiday or anniversary, and the creation is a collaborative effort that can take place either in-person or through online communications and video calls. 

Activity night: Choose activities that do not take a lot of concentration, and do the same activity over the phone or on screen. You can even work on the same puzzle, knitting, or DIY projects, and share tips or ideas while doing a relaxing and creative activity with companionship. Or, start a book or documentary club to discuss ideas that wake up your brain. 

Enjoy a show or movie: Who says you need to be in the same room to enjoy a show? If a favorite program is scheduled to be on TV, or rented for viewing at the same time, this is a great way to create a chat to share commentary during your favorite reality show or sporting event. The reactions to a great show from friends or family only add to the fun of watching it. 

Get active: Walk your dog and use the outdoor exercise time to make phone calls, and catch up with those you may not have heard from in a while. Not only can it be safer to talk to someone when walking alone, but also it’s a great way to multi-task if you already have the time set aside. 

Purposeful activities provide the opportunity to enjoy and participate in active conversations. The last few seasons have left many of us missing social events, but there are still ways to connect while staying apart. 

Madeleine Kates is a Senior at Niagara University studying Life Sciences, Psychology, and Environmental Science.