Most of us , reading this article are away from home, some for job , some for the spouse and some for few other known / unknown reasons. And for most of us ” this new home is “United States”.
The top destination for International migrants since at least 1960 s, with one fifth of the world’s migrants living there as of 2017. In recent decades the population has grown substantially ,with 2.4 million Indian immigrants residents in the United States in 2015.
The IT boom of US’, various visa policies (with their own pros and cons), the promise of higher wages for the same work, excellent growth opportunities, more professional work culture …. have certainly made a big impact in foreign markets . An urge to earn more , save more , a wish to experience a different lifestyle , forces us more and more towards these developed economies.
Now this relocation to experience something different, leads us to a different land, unknown neighborhood, and to a strange street “To a Foreign land”.
I remember the mixed feeling of excitement and agony within us, with our approved US’ visa. My Dad was happy, for having us this new opportunity, unlike Mom. As per her, why to go to an unknown land, and that too with a toddler, who has just started observing our cultural traditions, who just started putting gulal ( colors) on others for our “Indian Festival of colors HOLI” or just started clapping for the sparkles of crackers on festival of lights “Diwali”.
My mom, raised many strong questions which we didn’t have any answers for. Those excuses “ everyone does it, we are not the first one leaving country or “Chill, we are not going to stay there forever, in few years we will be back … felt trembled and week. Really … really it was a tough situation, but we made it!!
“Travelling overseas is one of the most enriching experience, but there is no denying that the longer you’re away, the more difficult it is to stay connected with family and friends”, This , I read somewhere , but , don’t agree to it fully .
Though , I understand that moving away and putting a large body of water or land between you and people you care about is hard. But not impossible…me and my husband, decided to be happy and positive. We were confident of keeping the connection , back home alive and strong.
City of Angels “LOS ANGELES”
Our initial days , here were challenging, but soon , we got accustomed with the systematized way of living. Unlike my country, life revolved around insurance here, from “phone to life” everything “Insured”. We soon found a good apartment, passed the driving test, and explored Indian groceries store ….so , life was on track and running . My toddler started his preschool too. Undoubtedly, settling down from scratch , was sometimes confusing and conflicting . During this time phone calls back home was namesake. And, soon three days turned to three weeks and than three months…..we didn’t had heartfelt conversations. As than we realized that “life is not just the three of us and our challenges”.., there is certainly more to it. We missed home, people and festivals.
So, we started exploring ways to connect more with family and traditions. We didn’t wanted little one to miss the much-needed love of, grandparents/close family for being miles away. I don’t deny to the fact that relationship always remains, but the intensity of how you perceive it, matters.
These few, day-to-day tips which we practice is pure, simple and full of love. It will give you and your family, piles of laughter , priceless bonding time and warm hugs.
And!! trust me , the day you will see your little one connecting with family, talking about them, including them in ” BRUSH YOUR TEETH RHYMES” , the joy will be all yours…You will be a proud parents !!
As said unsaid , WE ALL CARE FOR EACH OTHER ….and those magical words “ I Love you Mom / Dad, Brother/ Sister/ Grand mother/ Grand father still do wonders.
Soo !! before you grab your phone to call them , let me tell you quickly all those practice which is now a part of happy family time. So here we go !!!😊
1 – International calling “Vonage services”
Most important….. Communicate!!
Modern technology has alleviated the logistical part of distance. These days International calling has been convenient and affordable thorough various internet plans . The one which I use from past few years, for my USA to INDIA CALL ( including Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico) is VONAGE SERVICE, which is efficient and affordable. Mine is “Unlimited¹ calling to India”, from 3 phones for 1 low price. They keep on offering discounts for initial few months, like if you take a plan they will offer $14.99 / month or $9.99/month (for 6 months), depending upon the plan you choose.
There on going offer is of a free Vonage adapter box for free, if you order now.
(Includes Vonage home phone service plus calling from two smartphones via our Extensions App.) # home phone services requires high-speed internet (cable or DSL).
2. Get Tech Savvy and stay connected with these Apps
Don’t get worried about missing major milestones while overseas. Friends getting married, niece having just born, every occasion can be managed with the help of few social apps over Wi-Fi,
Download for iPhone /Android
Google Hangouts is a unified communication service that allows members to initiate and participate in text, voice or video chats, either one-on-one or in a group. Hangouts are built into Google+ and Gmail, and mobile Hangouts apps are available for IOS and Android devices. You can simply link your Gmail account and get the connect on. So go on what you are waiting for!!
A popular messaging app with end to end encrypted instant messaging that can be used on various platforms , including Android, iPhone and Windows smartphones, and Mac or Windows PC’s. Created in 2009 and acquired by Facebook having total 1.5 billion Users as of 1/31/2018. So, use it… it is meant for that!!
Skype / Face Time (free calls but need to have good internet speed.)
Frankly speaking when we, siblings do a Face time/ Video conferencing , we don’t talk.
Oh !! yess….
As kids / cousins deal it in their own way, they become so excited or shy that they hardly talk. My toddler gets busy in showing toys to younger siblings, and the elder one starts displaying his Taekwondo and bay blade skills. Earlier we use to interrupt, to make them talk. But, soon realized , it is their natural behavior, they would have behaved the same, when together. So, now the video calls is more of a noisy kids date and we enjoy seeing them connecting. Do try this “kids fun time”, the calls will be noisy, but full of fun.
Face time with Parents
It’s an experience, beyond words.
This powerful virtual presence is a healer. And believe me more than their need, its YOU who need them. We just don’t understand it, with our running clock, kids, meal time, nap time. Even ten minutes of this video call, will delight the hearts for days. The wiggly tail of your pet , the chirping of bird , that new fish in the aquarium will surely add to the flavor of HOME.
I can not , forget my delighted dad , as he took the iPad out in the garden to show us the blooming flower bed , and the new bird feeder. The refection of his joy was showing up in those twinkling pair of eyes beside me too. So, go on friends!! it’s all worth your time, I swear.
Whats App groups
These big family Whats App groups is sometimes overwhelming with their good morning and good night msg. But,the purpose of not letting you miss birthday, anniversary or any special occasions is solved. Also, mass messages does wonders during festival time. The images , audio keeps you , and distant family in a loop. Let the group be on mute, and enjoy the information shared.
3. Stick to a Communication Schedule…..
And a realistic one, too!!
The fact is that, there is no point having so many communication app or services if we can’t manage and use them. So, it’s better , to stick to a communication schedule, you cam combat issues that come with time differences, voice mails and missed calls.
4.The “FAMILY TREE”
Who doesn’t like decorating home….so, let’s make it more innovative and special with the “Family tree” wall decal. It’s available online. You can stick it, may be near your stairway, or living area where kids can see it more often. You can paste the pic of close family members , preferably, with your child ,also with them. You can combine it with pics of festival celebration at home.
Very important# do tell them the stories behind those pics, or some funny incidents, related before or after the click. gIt will help them to remember the pic and the person.
5. Childhood Stories
Sharing your childhood memories
This simple pleasure of childhood has numerous benefits attached to it. Storytelling , is as simple as reading a book. Telling your children stories from your childhood about various activities and celebrations, your summer vacation tales, your no tv/ iPad days, will have a real positive impact on them , they will connect with everything more. You can also include how various festivals are celebrated at home . Like, how holi is celebrated in India, what was the special holi menu, who, in the family used to be scared of diwali crackers or who ate the maximum number of gulabjamun ( an Indian sweets) in Diwali.
Sharing stories about various family members, will help them learn about their lineage better. Make the stories funny and interesting, show them your childhood pics.
6. Favorite Corner of your House
Each and every corner of your childhood house has a memory for sure. Don’t forget to share the secret of that with your kids , the same place where you ate mangoes and sweets during summer vacation time. Those swinging hours with siblings, that tea time while chatting with your neighbors .
Make the next visit to your home soon and a special one…for you and for your child.
Let them get wet in rain, let them have two extra chocolate…let your parents pamper them, let them be nagging with the granny for the same story the third time…. Let them make memories. And meanwhile you enjoy…..A beautiful, happy and memorable childhood in making…As , in no time they grow up…and get busy like us.
…..not so far away from your country, your HOME.
I, know in our busy life ,we all lack time. All of us want that one extra hour, somehow. We still have to attend meetings, pay bills, clean kitchen, do dishes, laundry, fix clogged toilets and also recover from a nasty cold. Staying away from country doesn’t mean it’s a walk on the beach. But…. most importantly wherever we are its our choice so ultimately its our responsibility to fill our child and our parents heart with the same warmth and love, which we have grown up with.
So, squeeze out that extra time, get up early on Sunday, connect a video call, and have a cup of tea with your parents back home. Believe me that “Tea” will be amazingly refreshing.
Please share your idea, your moment, your favorite corner of house with us. Enjoy and be happy!! :- ))