Long Distant Grandparents

So you have found yourself, like many other families today, trying to build a relationship with grandchildren who are distant and seldom seen. This can seem difficult and terribly unfair, but there are some ideas to help you and your grandchildren develop a close and loving relationship, despite the miles that separate you. You can do simple, fun and inexpensive things to show your love and make the most of this separation.

Growing up only an hour from Grandma’s house, I enjoyed Sunday dinners at her home once a month, and spent a week with her and Grandpa every summer. Those were times when I learned about my heritage and myself. Times that I treasure and remember with fondness. Time to talk with them and learn from them and feel their warmth and love.

Life today does not offer those same ideal circumstances for my children and their grandparents. As career opportunities have taken us many, many hours from both sets of grandparents, we’ve had to get creative in how we help our children and parents foster this valuable relationship.

Some ideas are simple and obvious, like using the telephone and email, or sending letters and photographs to stay in touch. These are great ways to get started, and demonstrate your love to your wonderful grandchildren. As I have lived far from my parents and witnessed their creative ways of staying in touch and in the lives of my children, I will share with you a few resourceful ideas.

Make a DVD/Video – you can use your camera to make a video for you grandchild of all the things you’ve been doing and ask them to make one for you. It is best to take small clips over a few weeks or months to put together an interesting video of your activities over the past while. My parents loved showing grandpa with his huge fish he caught and showing some footage of the newly remodeled kitchen and the new deck out back.

Use a webcam to stay in touch – When my children were young and we found out we were moving away for the first time, my parents were heart broken to lose their grandchildren. We bought both us and them a webcam and used the webcam to talk and visit over the internet once a week. Pick a day and time each week and have that be your Grandpa/Grandma time, to talk to your grandchildren over the internet and see how they are growing and learning. Nowadays this technology is even better and you can use a free gmail account at google.com and (after hooking up your webcam) you can add video and voice to chat live with your loved ones.

Make a tape or CD for your grandchild – My mother did this for my son’s birthday present when he turned 3. She recorded herself reading some of his favorite books on a tape and sent it to him. He loved it and so did I because she even had a little bell that she rang when it was time to turn the page, so he could follow along in his book and know when to turn the page and I had a good half hour of free time when he sat down with this tape. My mom even scanned in a picture of the book cover, minimized it and put a picture of each book in the order she was to read them on the front of the tape so he would know what book was next. This is a gift that we still use in our home. My youngest daughter still asks for the tape of Grandma reading.

Holiday Packages/Care Packages – My mother-in-law sends the children a package several times a year. She sends them in conjunction of certain seasons/holidays. There is always a Halloween package and a Christmas package. She sends a Fourth of July Package and a Valentines Day package. In each package are a few seasonal treats, but mostly small trinkets and stickers and stuff she buys from Oriental Trading. My kids get so excited and anxious as they await the “Grandma Box” every June, October, December, and February. She always sends it just a few weeks before the holiday.

Write an add-on story. Make up the beginning of a story and write only the first paragraph. Send that paragraph to your grandchild with instructions for them to write the next paragraph and then they can send it back to you. It is a great way for you to help them with their reading, writing and creativity and you can watch and witenss them developing these skills. You can do this via email or snail mail. I prefer snail mail because kids just love to get a letter in the mail.

Make a book of special memories – You can do this book online at shutterfly.com and download pictures, or you can make a book yourself and just draw pictures and recount the memories that accompany the picture. You can draw or include real pictures of the experiences. Before we moved overseas for a few years, my mom took my children camping at Redfish Lake for a week. Then at the airport, she presented them with a book she made, “Camping at Redfish Lake”. She drew pictures reminding the kids of things they did together and it was so cute. She is not an artist, but she did siple drawings and she rhymed the words. It was such a beautiful story for her grandchildren. She had it laminated and did a spiral binding and it is treasured by my children to this day.

As you can see, there are many ideas for grandparenting from a distance and letting those precious children know how much you think of them and care for them. Keeping in touch through these and other methods will bridge the gap and allow you to keep a close and personal relationship with the children you love and cherish. Then when you are together again, you can pick right up where you left off.