Most long-distance grandparents will agree that you don’t have to live in the same city to play a huge role in the life of your grandchildren. Yes, you might be sad that your grandkids don’t live close by or can’t see them right now, but you can still create a special and lasting relationship with some planning. Here’s how.
1. Do your research. Joy Candrian of the blog XOXO Grandma suggests: “Research the places where your grandchildren live and when FaceTiming or talking on the phone, ask them intelligent questions about their home, schooling, and the things they have done that week.”
2. Read to them and play games. “Record yourself reading a book and then upload that recording to YouTube so your grandchild can hear your voice and see you reading them a story. After you’ve got your recorded story online, mail the book to your grandchild so they can follow along while they watch your video,” shares Candrian. Playing online games together, like Words with Friends, is also a fun and educational way to connect.
3. Recognize holidays and special dates. Keep track of important dates so you can be there for the big events. Set reminders on your phone or put them on your wall calendar so you can send cards or plan a video chat for birthdays, graduations, last day of homeschool during quarantine, and more. Candrian offers, “I think giving gifts is such a natural way to show we care and giving a handmade gift [such as a quilt] shows we care enough to spend our time for those we love. Your grandchild may not understand that now but as they grow older and wiser, your gifts should help them feel the love you have for them.”
4. Raise video chatting and social media to a new level. FaceTime, Zoom, etc., make it much easier to see their faces and keep yours fresh in theirs. They grow and change so quickly, so make weekly dates to do things like call up the grandkids and take them on a walk with you around your neighborhood during quarantine, enjoy a refreshing drink together in the backyard on a warm day or enjoy milk and cookies before bedtime together virtually, let them watch you bake something, read to them. One way my 90-year-old grandmother loves to keep up with her grandkids and great-grandkids is to hop on Facebook daily to check out status updates and photos.
5. Remembrances. Make sure you have plenty of photos of your grandchildren around your home and send photos of yourself to them, as well. You want them to get to know you, and it’s so easy these days to create photo books and books of stories from your childhood for them on a site like Mixbook. Check out the Marco Polo app for a FaceTime meets voicemail experience, where you get to leave and receive video messages, and they don’t disappear… you can save them on Marco Polo indefinitely and also save them to your phone or forward them to other family members.
Despite distance, you can form close bonds with your grandchildren and ensure you play a key role in their lives. Carissa Jones sums it up nicely: “I think much like parenting, relationships are built on the foundation of time together and on traditions.”
Connect with Your Grandkids: Fun Ways to Bridge the Miles by Cheri Fuller
Long-Distance Grandparenting: Connecting with Your Grandchildren from Afar by Willma Willis Gore
Virtual Grandma: A How-To Guide on “Virtually Connecting” With Little Ones up to Age Five Using FaceTime, Skype, and Other Apps by Alison Hillhouse
Long Distance Grandma: Staying Connected Across the Miles by Janet Teitsort
Kerrie is a writer mom of five kids ranging from 10 to 18 and blogs at thekerrieshow.com.
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