Of all the parenting books I read before having our children, not one had a chapter on navigating a global pandemic. There was no how-to guide for becoming a part-time math teacher. I certainly didn’t see any tips and tricks for limiting screen time when screens are all we have to connect. Still, my own family has been finding our way through zooms and tantrums the best that we are able.

However, the thing that I’ve definitely missed is time with the family members who aren’t navigating quarantine within our household. Coming from a very close family where full-family dinners at grandma and grandpa’s house are a regular occurrence, I can’t help but feel so depressed by spending time apart from our greater family.

And I’m not alone in this regard. According to a new study, roughly 25% of people are most excited to see their families post-quarantine. However, knowing that other people miss their families just as much as my kids and I miss ours doesn’t do much to help me feel better about the situation.

As a result, I thought it would be wise to look up some more creative ways that people are staying connected with their extended families during quarantine. I wanted to look beyond the confines of Zoom to get inspired on how to keep our family together even when we are apart.

The first idea that I found…and immediately fell in love with came from a writer at the New York Times, who wrote a piece about connecting with her grandma by trying out her recipes during quarantine. I’ve been reading a lot about how cooking with kids is a great way to stretch their home knowledge and creativity when they aren’t in school, so I thought that spending a little time working through family recipes even when we can’t see our family would be great for all us. My family spent our time working through a passed-down pierogi recipe. They were delicious and I was able to tell my kids a little bit more about what their grandmother’s generation went through immigrating from Poland.

Another idea that inspired me was this one from All Star Activities to turn cousins into pen pals. Although my brother’s kids are a little older than my own, I was able to convince him to have his children pick up pen and paper to become pen pals with my own kids. It’s such a great idea because kids really do get excited when a letter comes in the mail for them. Not to mention, allowing them to connect with someone that isn’t a parent must be a great release for them.

Finally, I saw an idea online to do a game night over FaceTime. We haven’t tried it yet, but I’m just dying to see how it goes. Our family is definitely the type to go hard during family Wiffle ball, so bringing a little competition sounds like the perfect way to change up the regular video check-ins and feel a little normalcy despite being apart.

I hope these ideas inspire you and your family to connect during quarantine. Hopefully, we will all be back together soon!