Having a family and a job that requires travel is difficult. Your kids are growing fast and your spouse is at home, but you can still make them feel special every day with a little effort and creativity.
Here are a few free (or nearly free) ideas to let your family know you’re thinking of them, no matter how far away you are:
Skype is an incredibly popular tool, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a free video chatting software you can use anywhere there’s Wi-Fi. Set up a Skype date with your family: find a time of day that works for everyone, then sign in and chat away for free.
Use Skype after dinner to talk about your day or ask the kids about school. If you have young children, use Skype to sing them a lullaby. Or, if you download words to their favorite book on your computer or e-reader, you can read them a bedtime story right before bed. Skype is a great way for you and your family to see each other while you’re talking, which makes them feel like you’re right in the room.
Picture text messages
Picture texts are like instant postcards. They make your loved ones feel like they’re standing beside you on your trip, seeing the mountain ranges or cool architecture you’re surrounded by. Once a day, take a picture of something you think they would like, and text them what it is or why it reminds you of them. Picture texts don’t take long, but it will be nice when your loved one picks up their phone and sees a message from you they can save in their camera roll.
And don’t forget about video! Short video texts can be fun. Something as simple as a 10-second food critique for your dinner using a silly voice will be fun. If your family can’t see your videos well, try using a video app like Vine or SnapChat.
Next time you’re about to leave on a trip, write simple little notes to your loved ones and hide them around the house. Use anything laying around the house from scrap paper in pretty colors or Post-it notes with a fun design to draw a heart or write “I miss you.”
Another option is to write a long sentence with one word on each card. Every night, text or call and tell your loved one where to find the next word. This fun game will keep in close touch no matter how far away you are.
For older kids who have their own phones, group texts are a great way for everyone to connect. If you don’t want a huge group text in your inbox, there are also free smartphone apps such as GroupMe that help a group of people stay connected. Text the group clues about something funny that happened to you and see if they can guess the rest of the story. Or just send a big group hug.
Though a bit old fashioned, postcards are always appreciated. They’re a small token of where you are, and going to the effort of writing a note out by hand makes them personal. The notes don’t have to be lengthy – a simple “Wish you were here” goes a long way.
Google+ Hangout is a free video chat option similar to Skype, but it’s easier to use for larger groups. With Google hangout, multiple people from all around the world can chat together at the same time. On screen, the person who is talking automatically shows up on a larger screen than the rest.
Whatever means of communication you choose, be sure to show how much you care about your loved ones. Be funny, be sweet. Something as simple as sharing your thoughts can go a long way in any relationship. And with all the options, you’re sure to have fun thinking of new ways to show your love.
Which tools or apps did we forget? Let us know which ones are your favorites in the comments below.