Family, Personal Productivity, Solopreneurs

Gobble, Gobble, Zoom, Zoom! Navigating Family Video Calls

Thanksgiving will be different this year. Our families and friends are staying away to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. If your family is like mine, we’ll be spending some time together virtually on a video call.

With a large family, group video calls are a great way to see all the smiling faces we usually see in the same room. This picture is from our call last weekend celebrating my mom’s 81st birthday. We had at least 17 people on the screen and about 28 people on the call!

I’m sharing are my lessons learned and top tips to help you make your Thanksgiving call more joyful and less frustrating.

Use a platform that can handle your group size. I use Google Meet because it’s free and we can be on the call for an hour. Users need a free Google account to login, so if you have Gmail, you’re set. The free version of Zoom limits you to 40 minutes if you have more than three participants. If you have a small family, you can do a group call via FaceTime or What’s App.

Communicate the meeting and send the link via email and text. Some people check one or the other, and others may miss both. You might have an old phone number or email address. If you’re not sure, call ahead and make sure everyone knows about the call. You don’t want to miss anyone.

Choose a moderator. The moderator will control the call, manage the agenda, make sure everyone gets a chance to speak, and watch the time so you wrap up before the call cuts off.

If you’re the moderator, join the call 30 minutes early. Work out your own bugs and be available for other people who are trying to get on the call.

Designate a tech helper. Someone familiar with the technology can help people troubleshoot if they can’t get on the call, don’t know how to unmute, etc. It’s helpful if this isn’t the same person as the moderator.

Ask someone to set up the technology for older parents or anyone unfamiliar with it. My brother went to my Dad’s and my nephew set things up for my mom.

Have a group text chat and tell people to use the text for troubleshooting. Texting is a faster way to communicate and several people can help one-on-one if this is your first group video call.

Cast the call to your TV. We used Chromecast and could see everyone on the TV instead of just a few on the laptop. Be sure to take a picture of your family!

Have an agenda. I know it’s not a meeting, but it is. Without an agenda, it’s like chaos of people meeting and greeting as families arrive, exchange hugs, and catch up. That will happen anyway as people join the call. 😊 After a while you want everyone to talk to the group.

Go around the “room” and have everyone share something. Just like we do before our Thanksgiving meal, each person will share one thing they are thankful for. This is always my favorite part of Thanksgiving.

“Popcorn” to choose the next person to speak. The moderator starts, then calls on the next person. That person calls on the next person and so on. Keep track to make sure everyone gets a turn.

Be patient. Be kind. Be loving. Be thankful.

I wish you a joyful Thanksgiving and wonderful holiday season!

How is your family connecting this year?

Daily Routines & Rituals, Organization, Personal Productivity, Physical Organization

Organize like a Kindergarten Teacher

Do you ever wonder how a kindergarten teacher maintains order and control with 20 or so five- and six-year old children? It’s a simple, yet effective method that can work in your home or office, too. These simple steps will help you create and maintain order in any space.

Follow Simple Routines

Kindergarteners enter the classroom, hang up their book bags and jackets, put their snacks in the snack basket, sit in their assigned seats, and work quietly on morning work until the bell rings. After just a few days, every student knows what to do when he/she comes into the classroom.

Simple routines simplify life. Routines allow you to complete repetitive tasks with little thought so you can spend your energy on the things that take more thought, effort, and work. They give your day a simple structure so the things that must be done every day get done first. They become your habits: get dressed, make the bed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, grab your purse or backpack, and head out the door.

Establish Work Centers

Kindergarten classrooms are set up in centers – the art center, reading center, calendar center, etc. All the supplies needed to do an activity in the center is stored in or near the center. It is easy to do the work and clean up afterward. Yes, cleanup is part of the activity.

Label Everything

Labels are everywhere in a kindergarten classroom. They help the students learn how to read and identify things. Labels can be written or verbal, and both help to identify where things belong and where they can be found. Books belong in the reading center. Scissors and paint smocks are found in the art center. Everyone using the classroom knows where things are kept.

Use Appropriate Storage Containers

Make it safe and easy to store and retrieve items. Baskets for snacks, storage cubbies for lunch bags, hooks for coats, trays for puzzles, cans for scissors, and folders for papers keep supplies orderly. Use the right size of the right type of container for the job.