Staying Connected While Away From Home

Work life…

In previous jobs I traveled quite a bit and although it felt good to make the phone call back home, I always wished I could do more to connect with my family and be with my family even though I was away. Through a healthy number of emails, SMS/IM messages, and webcam sessions, I could float into what they were doing, remind them that I was thinking of them and feel, in some way, that much closer and that much more a part of the numerous small, precious moments which make up the memories of one’s life. At times the content of those touch points could seem trivial (“miss u talk 2 u l8tr”) and other times monumental (“really miss u and the kids”) but they were enough to make me feel that my presence, my silliness, my daddiness/parentness was still close at hand adding to the family activities and discourse.


Another way to connect…

So while I was between jobs, this thought of “connecting” interestingly bubbled up while I was playing around with a web bookmarking service (Delicious) and the result was something which gave me one more way to be at home even though I wasn’t physically home. The idea was simple, create an account on Delicious (pretty easy) and create a “Tag” (which is simply just a word/phrase which you want to categorize things under, like “news” or “family” or “sports”. I chose “Hometone”). Then whenever or wherever I was, if I came across something on the net which I thought was interesting (and appropriate) for the kids, I would Tag it. Back home, on their play room computer (they only have one which they share in the play room and which has a nice sized screen so that they can see it from anywhere in the room), I created a shortcut that when they clicked on it, it would bring up the list of things I Tagged.


Parent / teacher…

Pretty simple and straightforward, but the result has been much more. While traveling to far off (and even not so far off) places, I would come across an interesting online gallery of Lego creations and think “if I were home, I would love to show the kids this and see if we could create one of them” and then tag it. Elsewhere I would come across a great audio clip (Baseball Driveway Moments for instance) on NPR and think “this would be something fun for us to listen to together” and then tag it. On another day and in another place, I would come across a great “learning Japanese” video and tag it knowing that at some point, far away from me, my wife and/or kids would click on the HomeTone link and be presented with a list of things daddy was sending them, a stream of thoughts and impressions daddy was thinking which brought daddy that much closer. This HomeTone is one of the things we’ve tried to set up in our home (our Learning Home) and it’s been a fun and rewarding endeavor for the whole family.

Life work…

Staying connected, deeply connected can still be difficult even in this over-connected world we are in, but it’s worth continually working toward creating and maintaining. All the noise and all the candy that is out there can pose a constant attack on what’s important and can cause you to take your eye off the ball so here is another simple and easy way to keep some of that in check and stay connected with your family in a value adding way.

G. Manto profile picG. Manto snowboards a little, runs a little and writes a little. When he’s not thinking about how to help seniors and kids, he puts his energies into helping communities use technology to do small great things. Some of these can be found at futurespot.net.

Links:

Delicious: http://delicious.com/help/getStarted
Lego creations: http://club.lego.com/en-us/Gallery/default.aspx
Baseball Driveway Moments: http://shop.npr.org/products/Driveway_Moments_Baseball-623-0.html
NPR: http://www.npr.org
Learning Japanese: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1koRXpYlHg0
HomeTone: http://thelearninghome-futurespot.blogspot.com/search/label/HomeTone
The Learning Home: http://thelearninghome-futurespot.blogspot.com/

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No Responses to “Staying Connected While Away From Home”

  1. Chris
    January 24, 2009 at 12:06 pm #

    i have found out that a child in question is my daughter. she is 11 yrs old and said that she wanted to get to know me. so i said that i’d email her all the time untill we got to meet in person. we live on oppsite sides of the country, which makes it very hard for me to go see her in person. i’ve emailed her several times and have not gotten any responce from her. i have no idea why she isn’t talking to me and her mom isn’t willing to help me in getting to know her. i am really bothered by this because i have a neice that is 13 and her dad is a real dead-beat. i see how much it hurts her and i don’t want to be that to my own daughter. my problem is that i am not very knowledgeable as to what to do or how to go about it.i am lost with this and would really be able to use any help or advice in what i am doing

  2. Ben Martin
    January 24, 2009 at 12:41 pm #

    Chris –

    I can imagine a number of reasons why an 11-year-old girl my not respond to your emails… even if she requested them. She might still be afraid to pursue the relationship. She might not know what to say. She may feel pressure from an outside force (her mom, for example) to not respond.

    Bottom line, however, is that you’ve been given the opportunity to reach out to her. She’s requested it. If you are committed to being a dad for this girl (and it sounds like you are), you’ve got to keep reaching out to her. Even if she doesn’t respond, at least she’ll know that her dad is out there, that he cares for her, and that he hasn’t given up on her. Your consistent pursuit of a relationship with your daughter will prove to her that you take this seriously and that you’re not a dead-beat.

    Practically speaking, I don’t know how exactly you want to handle it. Probably emailing on some sort of regular schedule would be good. You might even want to make an appointment with yourself to make sure you don’t forget to keep this up. Birthday cards, Christmas cards, etc., sent to her would also be a good idea. An occasional hand-written letter is not a bad idea, either. And tell her about yourself… help her get to know this guy she’s never known. Share your life with her, as best you can.

    Ben

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