The days are long, but the years really are short when it comes down to raising kids. They grow like weeds. Each PCS seems a little bit different as they grow up. Goodbyes just seem to get harder and harder. Maybe it’s a compounding effect or maybe it’s that their relationships with friends grow more and more important. Either way, goodbyes are difficult. Watching your kid say goodbye to their best friends is heart-wrenching. Remember it is the 21st century after all! Here are five creative ways to help your kiddo continue to feel connected with their friends even if they are continents apart.
- Exchange a small gift with their best friend as a reminder of how much they mean to each other. One of my daughter’s best friends gave her a necklace for her birthday. We have just moved to a new state, and this week she is attending a new summer camp. Every day her necklace has been an important item for her to wear. It has brought her a lot of comfort in this new environment. I think the necklace more than anything reminds her that she is not alone. This simple gift has really done more than I ever would have thought for her. She feels a close connection with her bestie every time she puts it on.
- Keep connected through technology. I just think about the deployments we have been on as a family and how technology kept us included in each other’s lives even when we are away. Technology can be a great resource for kids to keep up with each other. Even if they live on the other side of the world! Fortunately, there are several kid-friendly apps and hefty parental controls that ensure we know exactly who our kids are talking with.
- Start a journal. It seems like every health and wellness article I read advocates for how impactful journaling can be. I think as our kids ride the PCS roller coaster of emotions a journal can be beneficial. I also think that writing about their favorite memories with their friends can be a powerful tool. It is something they can always go back to when they need to feel connected. A great goodbye gift would be giving a journal to your best friend with a few first pages already filled out with your favorite memories of them. They would always have the journal to reference and remember.
- Create a photo collage as a daily reminder of their friendships. Before we moved, we made sure to have conversations with the kids to ask them what was important to do before we left. For my daughter, it was to get a picture of all the neighborhood kids so she could print it out and hang it in her new room. She ended up getting several prints and handed them out to all the kids in the picture with a small note on the back. That way they all can have the picture and keep it in their room. It’s a small thing, but just having the knowledge that it is something they all have and share can be really comforting in lonely times.
- Become good ole fashioned pen pals. There is nothing like running to the mailbox and seeing a letter from a friend. In today’s world, a handwritten letter seems so personal in a way technology just can’t be. The thoughtfulness of the other person also feels more touching somehow. It’s something tangible that they can read as many times as they want. Just make sure to continue updating the address book!
In conclusion, as parents, it is hard to see our kids have to say goodbye over and over again. However, having friends all over the world can be cool, especially if you stay connected. I hope these ideas can help a few kids feel less alone after a move. I would love to hear from you about the creative ways you have helped your kids stay in touch with their friends!