Social distancing has been a major adjustment for my little family. Six months ago, I couldn’t imagine a day when my daughters didn’t have their friends over or I wasn’t hanging out on the back patio with fellow parents. Now, we’re lucky if we see another person in any capacity other than passing. It’s been rough on our girls, but they understand why it needs to happen.

We’ve been really fortunate to have some creative brains in our school group. Even though they’re not going to school right now, other parents and teachers have stepped up to provide distancing learning opportunities. More importantly, they’ve devised some really clever ways to get the kids together for play dates… without undermining the nature of social distancing.

I know there are tons of other parents with kids like mine, who thrive on social interaction and time spent with friends. To that end, here’s what some of the creative thinkers in my parent circle have come up with for getting the kids together—social distancing style!

  • Video chats are the go-to for virtual play dates right now. My girls have two or three each week. All it takes is a quick text to another parent and in minutes there’s a smiling kid on one end of the iPad and my daughter on the other. I’m amazed at how much gossip pre-teens need to catch up on!
  • Virtual play dates are another great option. My girls have been hopping on everything from Minecraft to Roblox to meet up with their friends and play the same games they love online. I ordered headsets with mics for my girls so they can chat live with their friends. We’re fortunate enough to have a tech dad in the group, so the girls and their friends can play on a private game server, with no fear of unknown players.
  • Movie night was a great idea by one of the moms in our group. Every Sunday night at 6pm, the kids log on to Netflix and use an app called Netflix Party to sync up the same movie. The kids can chat in real time and enjoy the movie together. Again, it’s invite only—no creepers allowed!
  • Book club started as a teacher initiative and became a popular pastime. Each week the teacher sends out a new book to the group, along with a daily page count. Every person in the club reads the specified number of pages each day, so they finish the book by the end of the week. Then, Fridays, the teacher hosts a small Zoom chat to talk about the book. The neat thing is, there’s a different bunch of kids every week because the groups switch, so my daughters get to see familiar faces every week.

I’m continually amazed at the ingenuity of the parents and teachers in my daughters’ lives and their ability to keep kids connected despite social distancing. They may not be able to run around and chat with their friends in-person, but ideas like these are the next best thing. Now if only I could get my buddies together for 15 minutes to have a beer via Zoom call!