The art of the staying connected across the miles can feel challenging. This week as we celebrate Valentine's Day, there will be thousands of boxes of chocolates, cards and red roses purchased and sent all over the world. If your spouse is deployed, this day can be especially tough and lonely. What is important to keep in mind is that we can strive to show our love all year long and not just on this one day. We can find creative ways to show how much we appreciate and miss them, all while creating special memories and keeping our connection strong.
Here are 3 ways to stay connected to your long distance love:
Create a communications plan – Just like any successful CEO would create a business plan, they also need a communications plan. Taking the time to create a mini-communications plan will help you determine ways to include your loved one into your daily routines. Finding ways to make them part of your life back home will help keep your connection strong across the miles. Create the plan together and discuss how often you plan on communicating and possible different methods. Be sure to include what topics are off limits. This step would eliminate any confusion on the frequency of communication, or access, for example: how many times you can expect to connect via video chat or on Facebook. Determine if your spouse has the capability to watch home videos of your kids for example. If sending videos via email isn't possible, services like Dropbox provide a place to upload your videos and other large files. Also, consider if your spouse will move around to different locations and how that might affect their connectivity access.
Get creative with your video chats – Take advantage of the portability of a laptop or iPad if you have one. Set up a video chat while you: get ready for work; wake the kids up for day care or school; cook dinner; provide a tour of your house decorating or organization projects, experience any "first" milestone like the first snowfall or losing a first tooth; read bedtime stories, say prayers and give good-night kisses, etc. Even if you do not have a tablet or notebook, you can still get creative with a traditional desktop computer. Other ideas include: place the computer in a common space and have the kids present a talent show; if you have pets, have them within viewing of the webcam, etc. It's important to note, Internet connections can be slow and disconnect often. It is helpful to have a back up plan just in case.
Budget for the cost of connectivity – The use of computers to use email and video chat to stay connected back home is widely available, however access is not on all platforms or locations. When my husband was underway on a submarine, there was no option of video chat, Facebook or emailing videos. Now for those deployed down range, the options do open slightly. The cost of Internet "in theater" from a personal laptop can inch towards $100 a month depending on location. This extra cost might require some creative budgeting. However, the ability for you to regularly see your loved one will be a game changer in finding ways to make your spouse part of your everyday routines.
I'd love to hear how you use technology to stay connected. What have you shared over the miles?