Gathering together in a video chat is about as close as we can get to celebrating in person on this very distant, very quarantined Mother’s Day. But if talking endlessly as a bulbous head on a cramped screen or spending an hour teaching your mom to use Zoom sounds, well, less than celebratory, there are a few simple tips and tricks you can use to at least spruce things up a bit. And who better to provide these tips than an entire team of IT experts, all of whom love their mothers very, very much and were happy to share their digital (and fun!) Mother’s Day plans.
If Zoom Is Too Complicated, Use Google Meet
First of all, if downloading the popular Zoom app is giving your mom trouble, use Google Meet, which was just integrated into the Gmail sidebar, where even the most technically incompetent persons can easily access it. “Google released Meet to everybody as another video calling option, which could be a time saver instead of needing to install the Zoom application,” says IT expert Robert Roche. In fact, you can simply forward your mom a link to the chat, which will direct her there with one click. (As an added bonus, Google Meet is much more secure than Zoom, and using it may help prevent your mom from having her email address hacked, which would make for a not-so-great Mother’s Day.)
For Extra Cheesiness, Download the Snap Camera App
IT guru William Sipes suggests installing the Snap Camera app onto your computer, which allows you to use those goofy Snapchat lenses while video chatting. “You can be a pickle or a potato, so that’s nice,” he says. And your mom might get a kick out of it, which is even more nice.
Play Some Games, Online or Otherwise
If your mom has even the slightest bit of technical understanding, you could play any of the increasingly popular Jackbox games. “Something I’ve done in the past with the family is host a Jackbox game from my computer and share my screen, so everyone can see the game,” explains IT master Zack Gaudet. “I was planning on doing that for Mother’s Day with the rest of my family. Also, codenames.plus is fun to play remotely.”
Both of these games are pretty easy to set up, and you can take the reins, so your mom only needs to punch in a code on her phone in order to play. For even more simple game ideas, check out this handy website, where you can play an assortment of classic games together online by simply punching in a code.
If all of that sounds too technical, there are a bunch of board games and card games you can play over video chat, especially if you each have the games or a deck of cards on hand. “I think we’ll end up doing FaceTime Yahtzee,” Sipes says. “You each have to have a scoresheet and the five dice. It’s a totally manual process, but you each record scores, so you’re not relying on the other side.” Or you can use an online dice roller and an online scoresheet.
If you have no equipment at all and want to keep things as simple as humanly possible, there are other options: IT specialist Raffi Bederian says he and his mom are planning to “play a game of charades,” for example (which, adorable).
Have a Digital Dinner, or Do Some Other Activities
“My mindset was to do a virtual dinner, and have her watch me cook,” Bederian says, which is a tactic that came up in another one of my Mother’s Day articles, too: Send your mom some wine, or some food — or both — and set up a video call so you can eat and drink together, but apart.
In fact, most of what we do together, in person, is just hanging out, anyway, so feel free to take your mom on a digital tour of your garden, show her that project you just finished or play her a diddley on guitar — whatever you normally like to do together.
Even better, make sure to turn on the pickle lens first.