This post brought to you by HomeTeam. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Surf and Sunshine.
When my husband joined the military our biggest concern was keeping our family connected. Between training, school and the inevitable deployments we worried about how the distance and separation would affect our five year old daughter. Before my husband left for his first round of training and schooling we recorded video after video of him reading her bedtime stories or saying special messages. It helped ease the transition during periods when there was little communication. Finally, our family was reunited again 6 long months later, only to move across the country away from all of our family and friends. My daughter had spent her entire life living just a few miles away from her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Now our family was looking for ways to keep her connected to them.
As much as Maddilyn loves to pretend to talk on the phone or send photo messages, she has little interest in video chatting or holding long conversations on the phone. While adults tend to think video chatting is an awesome way to stay connected, I realize how unnatural video chatting can be for kids. It’s simply too much pressure. By putting a camera in Maddilyn’s face and asking her to be virtually passed around from family member to family member and hold conversations was simply too much. Kids need to be able to fidget, to move, to follow the natural cadences of conversation with lulls and breaks for thought.
Which makes HomeTeam the perfect app for connecting with her dad on deployment or her family back home. Unlike other video chat software, HomeTeam allows users to read books and play games with loved while they video chat anytime, anywhere. Some of her favorite games include Animal Match, Drawing, Checkers, Tic Tac Toe and Go Fish (although there are games for adults too). The games give her an “out” that takes all of the pressure of video chatting away and allows Maddilyn to connect with her family in a way that is more natural to her. And instead of being virtually passed around the room, Maddilyn can chat with up to 5 family members at once which makes group conversations easier.
The large storybook collection is another great feature of HomeTeam. Their library even contains some of our favorite Disney titles like Frozen and 101 Dalmations in addition to classics like Curious George. Reading has always been apart of our bedtime routine and it’s something both Maddilyn and my husband missed while he was away. I know that when my husband inevitably deploys he will enjoy being able to continue their nightly story time.
When we think of apps, our mind tends to think of entertainment, productivity or social media. But the best apps are those that give me the ability to keep my family close despite the distances and challenges of military life.