My grandchildren 3,000 miles away are closer than ever, thanks to COVID-19. Their laughter and playful antics highlight my stay-at-home reality.

Remarkable things can happen when your attention shifts from the mundane to what really matters.  Is it that forced hibernation gifts us more time to reflect on the simple things that bring joy to our daily lives?  As someone who is always running out of time and never bored, my list of personal and business to-dos doubled since I could only venture out of the house to walk the dog. 

But among the unexpected, wonderful things that happened is that I am more connected to my daughter and two grandchildren clear across the country, thanks to video conference technology and clever apps available when they are needed most.

The weekly family Zoom video call is animated by Mo and Vega dressed in funny costumes flash mobbing the webcam.  Then comes the show-and-tell of Lego projects and matchbox car racetracks that stretch clear across the room.

Marco Polo—yes, the annoying children’s game of call and response—is now the name of an app that combines the best of texting, social media and video chats.  It was developed for families to stay connected across the miles and is easy to use.  Its creators recognized that meaningful connections are an essential ingredient in happiness and that video elevates the quality of the conversation with people you love.

A good morning video message recorded when the children are just getting out of bed brings sunshine to my day, albeit three hours later.  

Then the day gets even better. 

The Caribu app makes a video call interactive so I can have a virtual playdate with the kids.  We can draw and read a book together in real time.

Before the coronavirus crisis, my long-distance connection with family consisted of a weekly FaceTime and an occasional phone call with my daughter.  Busy lives, work schedules, school and family outings got in the way. 

While society deals with this horrible pandemic, I will enjoy every second of their bright faces on the screen sharing stories, crafts, music and play.  How will we communicate after the world reboots and resets?  By then we will have made the joy of connecting irreplaceable.