National Grandparents Day (in September) is a day set aside to remember the wonderful love our parents show our kids. Those who live far from their children’s grandparents know that maintaining a special connection from afar is difficult—but it’s not impossible. Here are ways to keep kids in touch with long-distance grandparents.
Social media makes it easy to share updates, photos and videos. Teach your parents to use social media, if you haven’t already. Be sure to also include interactive, real-time conversations in your communication routine. Erin Endrelunas of Cortez Hill plans weekly video calls to connect her 2-year-old daughter with both sets of grandparents in Naples, FL.
“There are some milestones you can capture in photos or videos, but being able to say ‘I love you’ or have your toddler ‘show’ grandparents her toys and see their real-time reactions is something special,” says Endrelunas.
Not sure how to keep the conversation going in your video chat? Ask grandparents to read a picture book or let the kids give an art show. If younger children get bored and run off to play, point the camera toward them so grandparents can experience day-to-day sights while your conversation continues.
Negotiate Time Zones
It can be extra tricky to connect with loved ones when you live in different time zones. Make grandparents a list of convenient call times, noting naptimes and bedtimes—and convert it to their time zone. Ask them to do the same for you.
Call on Your Community
There will be times when technology just won’t cut it. On days when a grandparent’s absence will be especially difficult, enlist the help of a proxy.
“Grandparents Day at school was hard for my brother and me,” says Laura Hendricks of Pacific Beach, “but my mom always made sure we were not left out. A close family friend stepped in for these events.” Hendricks grew up feeling a wonderful connection to her British grandparents, despite long-distance challenges.
Frequent Favorite Photo Sites
Photo gifts are a creative way to keep memories fresh between visits. Use a site like Shutterfly to make a custom book with photos and stories about grandparents. Pinhole Press offers board books for younger children, which are both sturdy and slobber-proof. Other options include building custom puzzles and memory games—a clever way to reinforce grandparents’ special place in your family.
Visit When Able
There’s nothing like an actual visit. If you live far from family, why not start a travel fund? Visiting won’t feel so financially overwhelming if you plan ahead and set aside a small amount each month. Make the journey to see your child’s grandparents as often as you can, and invite them to reciprocate. Your lucky kids will be well traveled, and very well loved!
Anne Malinoski is a contributing writer and mother of two boys. She is happy to live near family again, after five years on the opposite coast.