The pandemic has proven to be a hard time for families—extra cooking, double the cleaning, and virtual schooling while we work from home. While many of us are quarantining together, we can’t forget about our friends and family who are solo-social distancing.
Being home all alone can feel incredibly isolating. It can take an emotional and mental toll when the most exciting part of our loved one’s day is their weekly trip to the grocery store. Whether it’s your grandparent, a Godmother, your single mom friend, or a parent living alone, it’s hard to see them feeling lonely.
Thankfully, there are many ways to brighten the spirits of those feeling disconnected. Check out this list of five ways to support the solo-social distancing, for all creativity levels and budgets, too!
1. Send a Care Package
We all remember these from our college days! Time to turn the tables on our families and pack one of our very own.
Before choosing a care package, keep in mind this time in our lives might call for something different than we may normally send. Think about what this person will enjoy receiving while they are alone? What might they need or want? Also, what kind of care package might burden them? For example – an Edible Arrangement could really excite them or it may remind them they have to eat it alone.
Try to target care packages with many small different items rather than one large specific thing.
Some great websites offering this service include:
- Mancrates (for your favorite uncle or grandpa!)
- The Confetti Post
- Me to You Box
- Rock Paper Scissors in Ann Arbor
- Call their nearest florist and ask about delivery to their home or work.
Make it yourself: hit up your dollar or local drug store and buy some snacks, candy, chapstick, a sudoku or crossword puzzle book—whatever they enjoy or would bring a smile to their face! Pack it up with some bright colored tissue paper and some sweet words of encouragement.
2. Set Them Up With a Subscription or Hobby
For many people, a distraction from the pandemic is exactly what they need. To them, that may be drowning in books, binging TV shows, or learning a new skill. Some great ideas to surprise the solo-social distancing are:
- A Netflix subscription
- Rosetta Stone
- Send them a mystery photo puzzle or puzzle subscription box
- An Audible subscription or Kindle Unlimited
- Book of the Month Club
- A crafter or “makers” subscription box
- Many local places are offering online dance, cooking, yoga, and even bartending classes via Zoom or other platforms. A great way to support loved ones and local businesses at the same time.
Make Yourself the Subscription: Snail mail one or two little things a week, keep them different. Sometimes all our solo-socially distanced loved ones need is a little change in their daily routine, something unexpected!
- Tiny gifts you can buy locally that might be useful or fun
- Recipe cards
- Drawings or letters from kids
- Favorite candy with funny card
- Small funny packages like Tipisocks
- Etsy is a great resource for cult classics, favorite shows or sports themed items
- Printed photos
3. Send a Gift Card
A gift card may not seem like a big deal, but it reminds others you are thinking of them. Even $10 to their favorite coffee shop can brighten their day and even give them somewhere to go that isn’t on their normal route!
Some Detroit Mom favorite gift cards are:
- Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts
- Local store or lunch spot doing curbside or takeout
- Have their favorite dinner delivered to their front porch via GrubHub or UberEats
4. Digital Picture Frames
These virtual frames allow friends and family to send photos directly to their loved ones instantaneously! They are pricier but, speaking from experience, an incredibly useful investment and the gift that keeps on giving (both of our parents have one!).
When selecting a frame, be sure to purchase one with Wi-Fi capabilities so you can send photos regularly without needing to be near the device. Also, keep in mind ease of setup based on how tech-savvy (or not) your solo-social distancing recipient may be.
Here’s a great guide to start you on the search for the right frame for you: Best Digital Photo Frames of 2020.
5. Make Keeping in Touch a Regular Thing
Supporting those solo-social distancing doesn’t need to cost you a lot of money. With a little creativity and scheduling you can make them feel special and a little less lonely.
Some ideas about how to keep in touch regularly might be:
- Set a daily or weekly time to call or video chat
- Have a meal together. You can cook together, too, or make your own things and then chat about them.
- Let them help with the kids. For many, having a purpose makes them feel fulfilled and happy. Let them take on helping with schoolwork; a subject they enjoy. Making crafts or painting together. Singing and Dancing. Reading a book. Bonus: this can help you get a few moments of non-parenting time!
- Have a daily morning video call. Start off their day in a good mood by giving them a call from you and your little one each day. It can be just to say good morning, or tell a joke—short but sweet!
- Give calls a theme. A favorite movie? Decade? Holiday? Pick a theme and dress up! Prepare snacks or adult beverages and get the kids involved, too!
- Send questions to each other to talk about during your call. A few days before your chat, send them a topic question: “How did you and Mom meet?”, “What is your favorite vacation and why?”, “What was high school like for you?” and have them send you a question, too. It can be anything and it’ll be fun to learn more about each other without feeling the need to talk about the pandemic, politics, or the weather!
Gifts That Keep on Giving
While the last year may have challenged us all in areas we never expected, it has also brought us together in new ways! Whether you’re planning on isolating for a while longer or already scheduling your next get together, these little “I’m thinking of you” reminders can be something you keep in your back pocket when anyone in your life needs a pick-me-up!