My dad is 88. My mom is 83. They live 1,000 miles from me. I’m blessed to be able to travel to Florida to see them several times each year, but it’s never enough. I guess we can all say that about time with our parents, right? Mom has some pretty significant health issues now and my Dad is healthy as a horse, but he’s pushing 90! As they get older, I so want to make more memories with them, and it has become absolutely critical to me to capture the memories and stories of their lives while I can.
I have absolutely embraced Flipgrid as the way to make this happen, and I wanted to share not only the meaning behind WHY I’m doing this, but also how you can use Flipgrid to capture the stories – big and small – of your aging parents’ lives. This is by far the most impactful way I have ever used Flipgrid, and it has become a family project and will forever be a profound family treasure. These recordings literally mean the world to us.
Let me begin with how I set it up, and I’ll share some considerations and accommodations I made along the way. First I created a Flipgrid Group and I simply called it Mom and Dad. You can see a picture of it at the top of this post. Next I brainstormed a list of general questions I wanted to ask my parents. I ended up with a list of about 20, and I made each one a Topic within the Mom and Dad Group. I know that I can always add more topics whenever I’m inspired…or they are.
Once it was set up, and on one of my trips to Florida, I tried to teach my parents how to use Flipgrid. I told them why this was so important to me – and they understood. I think that there were times they wished THEY had asked or recorded stories from their own parents long ago. They seemed skeptical of the technology, but I told them I’d make it really easy for them. I put a desktop shortcut on their laptop. I made the Mom and Dad Group “public” so login was simple, but set a really easy password – and I wrote it down for them. They have an iPhone, so I put the Flipgrid app on there, too. Then I did a demo…and another demo…and another demo. I handed the iPhone to them and had them try it while I repeated the steps…and we tried that several times. No real stories were recorded yet – just learning how to use Flipgrid. I kept clicking that red Record button, just talking for a bit, hitting Next, then Next, then Selfie, then Submit. I showed them how to toggle between Topics so they could answer other questions. My hope was that with all this practice, they would do this – use Flipgrid to record stories for me – even after I left Florida. After a bunch of practice and demo…they needed a break, so we put it away for the time being. It didn’t get picked up again that trip, and even though I reminded them how to do it over the phone a few weeks later, it was obvious this wasn’t something they would be doing.
The next time I visited, I knew that I needed to do things differently. They needed more support, they were uncomfortable with the technology, and not even all the practice in the world with their Flipgrid-expert #edtech coach daughter was going to get them using this independently. So I changed the whole approach and it’s been a resounding success. That’s why I’m blogging about this…my wish for you is that you can do this, too.
My octogenarian parents weren’t going to use Flipgrid unless I was there with them. I realized that they weren’t really loving looking at a screen to see questions or Topics. They’re literally old-school. Guess what they DO like to do….sit around a table playing cards. So that’s what I did. I took every one of those Flipgrid topics and printed it out, then placed all the cards on the dining room table. I invited my son to come over and join us (he is a college student nearby in Florida). The four of us sat around that table, I picked up one of the cards, read the Topic, and waited to see if either of them were inspired to tell a tale. I had my laptop there, Flipgrid open, and I was going to “work all the controls and push all the buttons” so they didn’t even have to think about that. They didn’t like that the camera was on them, so I tilted it away. It took a few moments for them to warm up to it, but…
OH MY GOSH….the stories started flowing! I hit record and started capturing some of the BEST stories I’ve ever heard from my parents! I learned about my Mom’s first job as a young girl working the cigarette counter at a pharmacy up the street from where she grew up. Dad worked at a pharmacy, too – he worked the ice cream counter at the “soda shop”! Dad told about that time one of the nuns in school tried to grab him by the nose. As a boy, Dad played stickball in the alley and they used a half of a tennis ball to hit. Mom skipped school only one time – with a friend in elementary school – and they cleverly decided to hide all day in a Chevy dealer parking lot because nobody would ever find them hiding between all those cars. I promised I wouldn’t share all their stories….but you can see how much this means to me – and to my son! The fact that he was there – and I was there – and we were all sitting around the table doing this together made the stories even MORE fabulous because he and I were reacting and laughing and asking follow-up questions that led to even more stories!
This has now become a family tradition. A cherished family tradition. And we’ll do it as long as we can. My husband and I are heading down again for spring break and he can’t wait to be part of this. I am so excited for the five of us to sit around the table with our Topic cards all spread out as inspiration and start recording those stories – those memories – that we will have forever….thanks to Flipgrid.
I thought you all might like to see those Topic cards. Maybe you can use some of these yourself or at least find inspiration. I took screenshots right from Flipgrid. If these are a bit small or hard to see, I’ve also linked them digitally HERE for you.
I hope you enjoyed my story, and even more than that I hope it inspires you to capture some memories of your own. If you enjoyed this blog post, I would absolutely LOVE to hear from you! You can always reach me on Twitter at @kerszi, at my website Kerszi.com, or leave a response right here on the blog.
Oh….and stay tuned! This is only the first post of my #Flipgrid4Family series. Just wait until you meet my Aunt Margaret in the next one!