When my husband’s parents returned from a trip to Florida back at the beginning of March, I picked them up from the airport and my son and I elbow-bumped them in greeting in place of our usual hugs. We haven’t been within six feet of them since that night, despite the fact that they live a mere seven-minute drive from our home and we’re used to getting together regularly for special occasions, barbecues, family dinners and my son’s soccer and basketball games.
One of the hardest things about getting through the social distancing this pandemic requires is the loss of regular, in-person connections with the people we love. Our relatives, our friends—even our neighbours—seem so close, yet so far away. We’ve all been Zooming and FaceTiming and Skyping whenever possible, but many of us, including our kids, are craving more connection than that. We’ve got to get creative.
One way we can connect with loved ones who live nearby is by creating what Very Well Family calls a “Family Drop Box”:
Each individual or nuclear family begins by placing a box in front of their home. (For more security, choose a box with a lid and put it in a hidden spot.) Then, everyone commits to dropping off something special—perhaps a note, a photo, or some little gift—in each other’s box weekly, daily, or with whatever frequency suits.
You could plan this out with a schedule (check your mailbox every Wednesday after 2 p.m.!) or as a surprise (leave the note or item propped up against the front door, ring the doorbell and run away). You can take turns exchanging little gifts or simply shower an elderly relative with treats even if—or especially if—they can’t return the favour.
Items you exchange could include handwritten letters, cards, original kid artwork, fresh-baked cookies or a favourite snack you snagged on your bi-monthly trip to the grocery store. Let the kids brainstorm ideas and be involved in the creation and delivery of the treats—and if loved ones are able to reciprocate, all the better, so the kids have something new to look forward to a couple of times a week.
Just keep in mind that while there is a low risk of transmitting the coronavirus this way, there isn’t a zero risk. Treat these little notes and gifts the same way you’d handle your groceries, mail and packages—and wash your hands thoroughly afterward.