Even without in-person visits, you can still create a special and lasting relationship with the grandkids -- with some planning.
Published: August 26, 2020
By: Kerrie McLoughlin
Most long-distance grandparents will agree that you don’t have to live in the same town to play a huge role in the lives of your grandchildren. Yes, you might be sad that your grandkids don’t live close by — or you may need to maintain social distance right now for safety’s sake — but you certainly can still create a special and lasting relationship with some planning.
Here are some ways you can mark National Grandparents Day on Sept. 13 and share your love all year long.
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, school and the things they have done that week.” Another example might be checking out the latest children’s movie that’s streaming so you can talk about the best parts together.
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,” shared Candrian. Buy a blank puzzle at a craft store. Then, if you are artistic, draw a picture on it. If not, write a message and color in some of the pieces. Your grandchild will have a blast putting it together over and over. Online games are also a fun and educational way to connect.
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, sports, spelling bees 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 on 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.”
Raise Video Chatting and Social Media to a New Level. Skype, FaceTime and Zoom make it so much easier to see their faces and keep yours fresh in their memories. Kids 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, let them watch you bake something or 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.
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 as well, 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.
Plan Regular Visits and Special Trips. Carissa Jones, a mom of eight, shares, “Both sets of grandparents take small groups of one to two kids home with them. My parents take the kids to their home for their 10th birthday, and they have a special long weekend together that each kiddo has anticipated in the months leading up to their birthday.”
Ready for a Fun Visit. When it’s time for the grandkids to come to your home, make sure you have a stash of games, books and toys so they feel at home. Scout out local venues, nature centers, kid-friendly restaurants and other activities that you can all do together during the visit.
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: “I think much like parenting, relationships are built on the foundation of time together and on traditions.”
Kerrie McLoughlin, a writer and mom of five kids, reminds families of one of the most important R’s – Relationships.
- 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
- The Long-Distance Grandmother: How to Stay Close to Distant Grandchildren by Selma Wassermann