Here’s what you can do to keep your isolated family members happy
I have three grandparents and all of them have been self-isolating in their own homes far before lockdown and they’re getting very tired of it understandably. I’ve also been struggling as a first year who’s had all their exams, assignments and lectures cancelled because I have nothing to do and all my structure has been lost. So, I’ve come up along with my family with a few little nifty things we can do to interact and stay entertained even when we’re stuck inside.
Book club!- This one is probably my favourite because lockdown has given me a chance to read for pleasure for the first time in a while. I’ve been reading a lot of philosophy fiction to keep my subject alive in my thoughts as well as getting my daily dose of literature. My nana and grandad have fairly similar tastes in books to me so I set up a book club between us where we read a book every two weeks (each of us gets to pick the book in rotation) and then I ring them to discuss it. Our current book is Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s ‘The Meek One’ which my grandad got as part of his birthday book and a coffee subscription (https://www.bookishly.co.uk/products/coffee-and-book-club-subscription). It’s fairly short which is good because they tend to read it one at a time and you don’t want the books to become a chore. If you have a kindle (or the app) most of these older books will cost, you little more than £1 which every two weeks is a small price to pay to keep people happy.
A handwritten letter- While a phonecall is also nice it’s very sentimental to receive a letter especially for those who used to rely on them for communication. It doesn’t have to be all mushy it can just be a short postcard with a little message about what you’ve been up to and maybe some Netflix or tv recommendations if they’re into that. We did this for my gran and she really appreciated it (along with the little care package of treats she got!).
A family gathering- this weekend we hosted our first themed family night on zoom. We featured it around the Great Gatsby which we watched in preparation and then dressed according to the roaring 20s on the call. I wrote a quiz which kept me busy for a while and we dropped off some food to my nana and grandad (as well as a cheeky bottle of prosecco absolutely essential when in the prohibition era). It didn’t go on that long, only about an hour and a half but it gave us all a laugh and it helps you remember what day of the week it is when you’ve got something on the horizon to look forward to. It can be as extravagant or as relaxed as you like, and you can take turns to host it and choose a theme. The incentive we’ve made for some of the more stubborn family members (aka my 14 year old brother) to get involved is that if you win the quiz you get something bought for you from amazon for under £10. It’s really good fun and I’d highly recommend doing this with family or your friends.
Taking part in your walks- My grandparents are all avid nature lovers and they often borrow my dog to go for walks in the country, so they miss her company and getting doses of nature outside their garden. So, I send them regular pictures and updates of my rambles and what crazy antics my dog has been up to (which most recently was chasing a weasel). If you want to go the extra mile you can video each walk and send them that. This also gives you the push to continually use your one allotted exercise each day and vary up what you’re doing, for example I’ve been trialing new public right of ways in my area.
Cooking with them or for them- I love to cook and my grandparents often ask how my mum and I cook certain foods so often we drop food round to them. However, what you can also do is facetime or call family members whilst you cook so they can see how you’re doing certain things. Alternatively, if you’re not a confident cook and you love their cooking do it the other way round and get them to show you how it’s done!
I hope this gives people a few ideas because I know I was going mad just scrolling through social media idly all day so I’m sure some of you are as well. It’s important to remember our more cut off family members who might be quite lonely right now and make sure their spirits are kept up. Have fun and stay safe everyone, if you decide to do any of these or you’ve already been doing them comment below how it went.