If you’re anything like the average college student, you’re likely balancing school with extracurriculars, jobs and a personal life. This means you might forget to call mom and dad back sometimes.
It’s okay — we’ve all been there before, and probably have felt just as guilty.
It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized I wasn’t the best at reaching out to my loved ones, and it was then that I also realized just how important it was. Being away from home, it’s easy to take a few days too long to respond to your grandma’s text or return your hometown bestie’s FaceTime call, but there are ways to make reaching out a habit — even if it doesn’t come naturally to you.
Here are some tips that have kept me more in touch with my friends and family as of late.
1. Send them something that reminds you of them.
Believe it or not, even the smallest virtual gesture can make a world of a difference to someone who misses you.
We all spend hours scrolling through social media once in a while — TikTok is my personal time-waster of choice — and there’s plenty of content. So, if you see a post or video online that makes you think of a loved one, send it to them.
I know it can be easy to hesitate, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve spoken with this person, but a simple gesture like this would make anyone feel special. This is a great minimal effort option to let someone know you’re thinking about them.
2. Pick a specific time to connect.
If you’re running on a strict schedule, why not pencil in some specific time dedicated to reaching out?
Some say this feels artificial, but personally, this is one of the only ways I’m able to completely disconnect from my to-do list and have a genuine interaction with my loved ones.
If you’re able to agree on a day and time every week when you will pick up the phone, you’ll be much less likely to be interrupted by an unexpected call, or even worse, miss the call completely.
Avoid the guilt! Make it easier on yourself and pick a time to make contact.
3. Choose carefully and be consistent.
Feel free to prioritize a smaller group of people who are very important to you — don’t feel obligated to reach out to every person you’ve known since middle school.
Once you’ve identified your go-tos, be consistent in staying in contact with them. A one-and-done text is not going to make your friend or family member feel appreciated any longer than the five minutes it took you to send that text.
Whatever you do, don’t go radio silent. The act of reaching out is important, but it only leaves a lasting impact if you keep it up over time.
Be genuine! You should be reaching out because you care, not just to be able to say you did it.
The most important tip to take away is to remember not to beat yourself up the next time you inevitably forget to call or text back. We’re all human, and mistakes like those don’t make us bad people — they just mean we’re busy college kids.
But if all else fails, call your mom and dad — they miss you.