How To Make FaceTime More Enjoyable for Everyone

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FaceTime might be one of the coolest things ever invented. It’s a great way to stay in touch with family and friends, and for anyone whose family lives far away, it gives them a glimpse into your kids’ day to day lives.

It can also be a huge source of stress for parents who are trying to appease eager grandparents or encouraging their kids to “see” family more often while knowing full well there’s a 99% chance it will lead to an epic meltdown. There’s nothing more stressful than trying to show off the grandkids while they are crying or behaving defiantly (how many times have you said, “I swear they don’t usually do this!”)

The thing we often forget is young kids don’t really understand FaceTime. They’d much rather chew on the phone or cry wondering why you’re not paying them full attention. My youngest is four and she is just starting to really understand FaceTime, realizing the family is somewhere else, how to hold the camera appropriately, etc.

So for the sake of family togetherness and parent sanity, here are some tips for how and when to FaceTime to reduce the likelihood of meltdowns.

Timing is everything. Never accept a FaceTime request right before bedtime. Ever. The kids are tired and grumpy, and they are more likely to meltdown. Or, if they are excited to see the person on the other end, it could make them more riled up and then they will be up for hours. Be proactive by offering your family select times you know are best for your kids – first thing in the morning, right after naps, whatever works best for you. We actually try to chat DURING mealtimes because our kids are more likely to sit still and engage while at the table. And it feels like the family member is joining you for the meal

Keep your expectations Low. ‘Nuff said.

Keep it short and sweet. If your kids are anything like mine, nothing good happens after about 8 minutes of FaceTime. They get bored, cranky, and want to move on. So set the expectation of a quick check-in, and consider doing more frequent, shorter calls so family doesn’t feel slighted.

Encourage your FaceTiming family not to talk too much. Sometimes well-intended grandparents will talk a lot to the kids, which can create disinterest and the conversation feels disjointed. Especially at younger ages, kids just don’t appreciate the nuance of dialogue, and just want to talk “at you” on the phone rather than listen. Encourage your family to let them do that.

Ask simple questions. Keep the topics simple, and remind your family to give the kids lots of space and time to respond or ask questions.

Turn it into a Show and Tell. My kids love to show grandparents their stuff, like the craft they are working on, a new toy, or favorite stuffed animal. This encourages them to be more engaged and also gives family a sense of what your child is into right now.

Guide the conversation. If your child is still quite young and not talking yet, then you can talk to your parent or family member while showing them the child at play. This accomplishes two things- you get to catch up and the family member gets to watch your child in action.

What tips work for you? How do you manage to have a successful FaceTime session?

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Meredith
Meredith is a transplant to the Bay Area and has fallen in love with the weather, gorgeous scenery, and plethora of local wineries. A wife and mother of two, she works part-time as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. She hails from Texas, where she attended the University of Texas and will always bleed orange. She then moved to Washington DC to attend Georgetown's School of Medicine, where she fell in love with her future husband, a fellow student, and has been happily married for almost a decade. She and her husband lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for several years for their medical training and found it the perfect place to start a family. She relocated to the Bay Area a few years ago and has quickly adapted to West Coast living. Meredith enjoys the balance of part-time working and full-time parenting and loves to write about this ongoing struggle. In her persistent drive to find more "me time", she actively pursues her interests in reading, running, soccer, baking, and wine tasting.

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