To say things are a little bit cooked at the moment would be, uh, a little bit of an understatement. It’s not surprising that people are feeling a bit lonely or more disconnected than usual, as we’ve become more isolated from one another. It’s because of this that it’s more important than ever to check in and connect with those you love– and that includes your parents.
Ya see, reaching out to your parents isn’t just good for their mental wellbeing; it’s good for yours too. Regular positive interactions help create feel good chemicals in your brain, which can improve your self-esteem, empathy and overall mental wellbeing.
Having those strong social networks is also super helpful for the times when you might need a bit of extra support, so it’s worth doing a bit of the groundwork when you can.
It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture. Sometimes something as simple as sending them a funny meme or movie recommendation is all that you need to let them know you’re thinking of them, and help boost their mood, as well as yours.
We also get that every family is different when it comes to relationships or physical distance. Maybe the traditional parent role in your life is occupied by an uncle or auntie, sibling, grandparent or even a great friend. And maybe you can’t always catch them face-to-face, but there are still ways you can connect on the reg.
The important thing is making the time to check in on your fam, because it benefits all of you. Show them some love and you’ll all feel less alone while getting a nice boost to your self-esteem and overall wellbeing.
Give ‘Em A Ring
This might sound like an obvious suggestion, but a phone call goes a long way. It doesn’t hurt to check in once in a while to make sure they’re doing alright. And if you’re not doing alright, checking in and connecting could help guide you towards a more positive direction.
A couple of weeks ago I went for a walk around my neighbourhood and gave my nan a call. We ended up speaking for about an hour, and like, a good half of that was dedicated to how her oven of almost 40 years had finally carked it. It was a nice chat and the time flew by.
It doesn’t have to be a long call about the mechanics of vintage kitchen appliances, either. Sometimes a quick “How are you? How was your day?” is enough to let them know you’re thinking about them.
It’s a small gesture that will go a long way to making them feel connected – especially if you usually only speak through messages. Being able to hear a real voice makes a world of difference. It’s not only good for their wellbeing, but it’s good for yours too as it’ll help to foster a more positive connection with your ‘rents.
Get A Group Chat Going
Chances are you already have some kind of family group chat going, which is good. That’s a relatively easy way to keep in contact with your parents. It’s also a good alternative to making a phone call, because we get that sometimes you’re just not in the mood to chat.
Every message you send doesn’t need to be a long, thought out piece describing every minute detail of your day. Sometimes you just need to post a funny meme and that’ll do. A quick “Hey, this reminds me of you!” or sending them something you saw while going about your day is a good way to share some joy with your parents.
My family’s group chat is mostly dedicated to videos of my parent’s two cats doing ridiculous things because they are absurd, cartoonish creatures. It always makes me feel happy whenever I see a notification from them pop up.
Start A Movie Club
My dad was super interested in watching The Last Dance earlier this year, but he didn’t have a Netflix account. I set up a user profile for him and my mum on my account so they could watch it. And now? They bloody love Netflix. Almost every time I’ve spoken with them since, at some point they mention whatever film or TV show they’re currently watching.
Setting up movie club with your parents is a fun way to bond, while improving your collective mental wellbeing. It becomes a group project where you’re all working towards the same goal, and can help to strengthen your relationship with them too.
It doesn’t have to be limited to Netflix, you just need to all agree to watch the same thing within a certain time-frame. Then you can hit one-another up to talk about it and try to figure out what’s next on the viewing schedule.
It’s a less stressful way to talk with your parents without talking about some of the heavier issues that you might all be experiencing, but you don’t feel comfortable discussing right now. Having a shared interest or enjoyment of specific films is something to acknowledge and be proud of, and helps create a sense of belonging.
Sometimes your mum wants to know how you’re going, sometimes she wants to know if you’ve seen this Stranger Things show. (Yes, mum. I have.)
Make A Shared Spotify Playlist
A slight variant of the previous section, but good if you maybe don’t have the time or focus to watch a movie. It’s a simple, but fun group project.
Just set up a Collaborative Playlist on Spotify and let your parents add in whatever songs they’re currently vibing. The right song can make a huge impact on mood, and there’s a good chance your parents will associate it with you whenever they hear it – and vice versa. The songs act as a reminder of your relationship that will make all of you feel better whenever you give them a spin.
It probably doesn’t hurt to set up a vetting process either, where you and your parents can yay or nay what’s being added in. That way you don’t need to worry about your mum adding multiple versions of the same Queen songs.
Spend Some Time With Them
If you’re able to visit your parents, nothing can really top spending time with them face-to-face. Being able to hear their voice unfiltered, smell them (in a non-weird way) and be near them (while keeping inline with social distancing rules), is so much more intimate than a phone call or message.
Keeping the connection between you and your parents strong will help keep your mental wellbeing in a positive place, keeping feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression in check.
You can strengthen that connection by organising something like a quick catch up over coffee or lunch, sharing a meal at their place (or yours), going for a walk somewhere or watching a movie. The important thing is making the time to see one another as it’ll help strengthen your ties with them. You can check out a few more activity suggestions here.
If my brother and I both happen to be at our parents’ house at the same time, we usually play a bunch of board games. It’s a small thing but it makes me feel good about myself and our relationship. It’s not something I do anywhere else, so there’s a specialness to it.
To make sure that connection stays strong, you should have a set date for your meet-up, like the first Sunday of each month. That way you all have something to look forward to, and it can act as a small oasis of relief from whatever else is going on in your lives.Image: The Simpsons