(Note that this post was subsequently turned into a Father’s Day blog post on the official Skype blog here.)
Several friends with newborns and toddlers have commented on how they’ve tried and mostly failed at using Skype (or similar internet video services) to keep connected with family and friends. When we’ve discussed what they’ve tried, we’ve shared our methods, which for the most part have been really successful.
At an early age and even now, we always Skype with relatives at a time when Penelope is in a fixed spot. Primarily, that’s dinner time. So when she was in a high chair we’d put the laptop in front of her and she could engage with her grandparents while she had dinner. Sometimes time zones would allow us to Skype at lunch too.
Skyping at other times always seems tougher, as she’ll be wanting to move around and we’ll be chasing her with the laptop, trying desperately to keep her in the frame.
Dinnertime is great as she can engage with whomever is on the call. When Penelope was very little, she would just look at the screen and we’d let grandma know how she was developing as she watched her eat. Once Penelope could talk, my mother would ask her questions about what she’s eating and even take part in the meal. For example, Penelope would hold a spoonful of peas in front of the screen and grandma would pretend to blow on them to cool them down, really exaggerating her inhale and exhale (which Penelope got a kick out of).
Less so nowadays, but certainly for the first few years my mother would always have props such as toys that she would bring out from under her desk. It got to the point that Penelope would ask to see the different toys and grandma would furiously dig around to get the requested animal.
My mother also has quite an artistic streak, so she’s illustrated nursery rhymes and sings them while she shows the relevant picture she’s drawn for whatever line she’s singing. They’ve really bonded as a result of all these regular calls, so when she comes to visit there’s never a “who is this person?” experience. The same goes for some of her aunts and other relatives who Skype regularly.
Another great spot for Skyping is when Penelope (and now Harrison) is having a bath. That’s primarily when I Skype with my mother when I’ve got Harrison right now. Harrison probably has no idea she’s there, but grandma loves watching him get a bath. Once he can sit upright and moves to solids, no doubt we’ll start Skyping with her during his meals too.
Try Skyping in these and other spots where your babies and toddlers can’t move around and let me know how you and your family get on.