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MANHATTAN, Kan. – When families are separated during normal times, it can be hard emotionally for members to adjust to periods of not having close contact with the others.

It can be even more difficult during such times as the current outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, when travel is often restricted.

A publication from Kansas State University can help to bridge the distance between family members who are apart. The publication, Loving Long-Distance: Families Separated by Distance, is available online for free through the K-State Research and Extension bookstore.

Technology makes it easier for family members to stay connected, but maintaining meaningful contact takes some planning. Here are five tips outlined in the publication for staying in touch:

  • Establish regular routines. Plan how you will most likely communicate and set aside a specific day or time to make contact. This may include phone calls, internet chats, email, text messages or old-fashioned letters.
  • Take the initiative. Be the first to make contact. Take pictures of special events that the distant family member may have missed.
  • Brainstorm creative activities together. Read the same book or watch the same movie and spend time discussing it.
  • Work on maintaining relationship satisfaction. When you talk, be an active listener. Pay attention to what each family member is saying. Make the routine calls a priority.
  • Take advantage of technology. Make a video of daily life to share with family members.

The publication helps to establish the concept that challenging times can be opportunities for a more meaningful future. Spending time being creative in maintaining family connections can help all family members feel included and valued.

K-State Research and Extension has compiled numerous publications and other information to help people take care of themselves and others during times of crisis. See the complete list of resources online.

Local K-State Research and Extension educators are still on the job during this time of closures and confinement. They, too, are practicing social distancing. Email is the best way to reach them, but call forwarding and voicemail allow for closed local offices to be reached by phone as well (some responses could be delayed). To find out how to reach your local agents, visit the K-State Research and Extension county and district directory.