Maybe Matilda: 5 Ways to Use a Tablet + T Mobile Free Data to Build Long-Distance Family Relationships

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

5 Ways to Use a Tablet + T Mobile Free Data to Build Long-Distance Family Relationships

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TabletTrio #CollectiveBias Use a tablet, like the T Mobile 4G Trio, to help kids stay close to relatives living far away.

When Jeff finished chiropractic school in Iowa, we had a tough decision to make. Should we head back to the East coast, where we both grew up and where Jeff’s family still lives, or move out to Utah to be close to my family (who had slowly trickled out west over the years until almost no one remained back in my home of New York)? (I suppose there was also a third, rather unappealing option of plunking ourselves somewhere in the middle of the country and being equally distant from both families, but that didn’t sound very promising.) We ended up deciding that since I would be the one to stay home and focus on raising our kids, we should live closer to my family so I could have their help and support. This means I get to see my family frequently—and I’m so glad for that—but sadly, it’s just too expensive for us to make it out to Pennsylvania to visit Jeff’s family very often (but we have a trip coming up next month, and we’re so excited!). There might be an awful lot of distance in between them, but I don’t want that to get in the way of our kids feeling close to and having strong relationships with Jeff’s parents.

Technology to the rescue. Isn’t it amazing that it’s possible for my kids to be growing up 1800 miles from their grandparents, but to be able to talk to them anytime they want and even see their faces while they chat? It’s incredible. Forrest has a hardcore tablet obsession—so intense that I had to come up with a screen time payment system for him to earn and ‘purchase’ tablet time, actually—so we love using tablets and his love affair with them as relationship-building tools. (And as a side note, I have always preferred the smaller-sized tablets—easier to toss in my bag and take on the go, and easier for Forrest to carry and hold on his own without worrying about dropping.) So today, I wanted to share 5 little ideas I jotted down of ways to use tablets as a tool to build relationships with family members living far away.

5 Ways to use a tablet to build strong relationships between family members living far away

1. Lunch dates

Whenever a friend of mine visits from out of town, or when I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve chatted with someone, my instinct is always to set a lunch date with them. I feel like better conversation and bonding happens over food than any other way. There’s got to be science to back this up. Or maybe I’m food-obsessed. Both options seem likely. Either way, how about setting up a long-distance lunch date? Forrest loves video chatting with his grandparents (in fact, I often find him on the couch video chatting with his grandpa, without having asked me if he could give him a ‘call’), and having them eat lunch ‘together’ is a great way for them to chat and talk about their days and have fun together over a meal, even if they can’t be physically together for it.

2. Songs and activities

Forrest loves singing and dancing, and without fail, Grandpa Brown always requests a song and dance when they video chat. And Forrest loves having an attentive audience for his little performances (and I’m sorry to admit it, but I can only fake enthusiasm and applause for so many performances in a day), so setting up a time that he can put on a show for his grandparents and show off any new songs he’s learned is a fun way for them to connect.

5 Ways to use a tablet to build strong relationships between family members living far away

3. Long-distance bedtime stories

There really is something special and sweet about reading a story together before bed. And sadly, this is an opportunity that the PA grandparents miss out on roughly 360 days a year. A smaller tablet is the perfect size for Forrest to hold on his own without needing help, so he can climb into bed with it and listen/watch while Grandma reads him a story before he goes to bed. Such a sweet way for them to connect, and to make the bedtime routine go a little more smoothly since he has something fun to look forward to.

5 Ways to use a tablet to build strong relationships between family members living far away

4. Be present at events

The grandparents love being able to watch videos of events in the kids’ lives, like when Forrest gave his first prayer in Primary at church. But I think it’ll be even cooler for them to be able to be present at these events and watch them as they’re happening. The T-Mobile Trio AXS tablet comes with free data for life (up to 200MB of free data each month, with affordable plans if you need more), so they’ll be able to actually watch via a video chat/hangout—in real time—as Forrest leaves for his first day of preschool, see him wave goodbye and head in. For older kids, maybe the grandparents can be there (via tablet of course) to watch their kids climb on the school bus for their first day back at school, or hear all about their first day as they get home. I think that’s pretty dang awesome, myself, and I think it will mean a lot for them to really be present at special moments in the kids’ lives, like recitals and concerts and other big days/events—even when they take place away from home and when we don’t have internet access.

5. Playing together

So obvious that I had to leave it for last as a no-brainer. Talking and chatting are all well and good, but what Forrest loves best, of course, is playing together. And his Grandpa is particularly skilled at inventing silly games for them to play together across distances, whether it’s a silly face contest or hide and seek via video hangout. 1800 miles of distance doesn’t mean they can’t laugh and play together.

5 Ways to use a tablet to build strong relationships between family members living far away

Maybe you’ve been holding out on purchasing a tablet, and if that’s the case, perhaps this will be the one that convinces you. The T-Mobile Trio AXS 7.85” 4G Tablet is affordable at $179, especially considering that it comes with free data for life, so you can always be connected, even if you aren’t near WiFi. You’ll be able to connect with family and friends, keep your schedule organized, stream video for the kids while you’re on the road, or get work done while you’re away from home, all without needing an internet connection. We picked up our tablet at Walmart, and as you can see, my little tech addict wasted no time making himself cozy with the merchandise.

T-Mobile Trio AXS 7.85” 4G Tablet

Do you live far from family members or close friends? If you do, I’d love to hear your ideas on building relationships from a distance. I don’t want my kids to miss out on relationships with their family due to distance.


  1. I was so surprised when I went to visit Mom and Dad, and dad got a call from Forrest, who sang him song after song. *Heart melts*

  2. I live in SE PA and my sister and niece live in Atlanta. I never feel like we get to see each other enough and talking on the phone with a younger child is difficult. These are awesome ideas! Thank you for inspiring me to be able to be a better sister and aunt.

  3. So precious! He asks to call Grandpa ALL the time. And he sometimes goes ahead and face-times him on his own, without asking me first :-P

  4. Thanks Megan! That's exactly why we love video chats so much--Forrest just doesn't have the attention span for a phone conversation, but he still wants to chat with relatives.

  5. This is awesome! I was just talking to my Dad yesterday about how we need to get him some kind of web-cam thingy so he can walk me through home repair type stuff. Lunch dates sound like much more fun though! I'm actually planning to get one of these gizmos after the Halloween rush this year so I can finally be on instagram. Woo-hoo check me out moving into the 21th century!

  6. SugarTart on instagram?! This is a happy day!!!

  7. I live in Dubai with my hubby and 2 1/2 year old son, our family are all back in England, so we use the internet a lot for keeping in touch with them. We use Skype a lot, and obviously Facebook for photos etc. I write a blog and some family read that and hear what we are up to.
    When skyping his grandparents, my son William plays hide and seek, and we follow each other around with iPads searching for them, he also enjoys bed time stories. One of his grandmas uses her phone to record short messages and nursery rhymes to send to me via what's app to play for him too.
    It's hard being away from family and I think it's important to keep reminding my son of all his family members, so all these things are great, along with lots of pictures around the house!
    Have a wonderful time when you visit your family!

  8. Since my mom lives far away we try to stay connected as best as possible. These are great tips! #client


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