Connecting with Grandchildren Who Live Far away
Grandparents delight in their grandchildren. They love holding, snuggling, kissing, and playing with them. Grandchildren are so precious!
But sometimes grandparents’ arms are empty and they feel sad because their grandchildren live too far away to regularly visit in person. It’s hard to have much of a relationship when grandma lives in San Diego and the grandchildren live in Bangor, Maine.
Even though grandchildren may live miles and miles away, grandparents can still be active in their grandchildren’s lives. Here are two ways that grandparents can use to connect with their sweet grandchildren.
Mail: An Old-fashioned Way to Connect with Grandchildren
Even though technology is a big part of today’s society, grandchildren still love receiving things in the mail. Mailing cards, letters, and packages is fine and dandy. But to really excite your grandkids, be creative. Do something a little bit unusual. Do the unexpected.
Instead of using regular envelopes, make an envelope out of a picture from a magazine or from scrapbook paper. Print a picture from your computer and turn it into an envelope. Put your letter in an empty water bottle and send it to your grandchildren.
In addition to having unique envelopes, vary your writing materials. Don’t write on paper. That’s boring! Here are a few ideas worth trying:
- Write on a Ping-Pong ball (be careful so you don’t smear the ink), a Frisbee, a piece of fabric, or a block of wood.
- Use invisible ink. (Did you ever do that when you were a kid?) To make the ink, squeeze the juice from a lemon into a bowl. Add a few drops of water and stir. Use a cotton swab and write your secret message. (Or, draw a picture.) When you mail your secret message, include directions to hold the paper close to a warm light bulb in a lamp or carefully over a candle to make the writing appear.
- Use postcards to connect with your grandchildren. But don’t just write a letter on them. That’s so last century! Instead, fill the card with jokes. Write a scrambled message on one card and a few days later send another one with the answer. Send a card with a simple recipe for your grandchild to make. Write the beginning of a story and have your grandchild write the ending on another postcard and mail it back to you.
You could also give your grandchild a bundle of self-addressed stamped post cards. Have instructions telling your grandchild what to do with each card: draw a picture of something they did that day, tell you how their soccer game went, or tell you about their best friend.
Skype: A New Way to Connect with Grandchildren
Skype is a new and hip way to connect with grandkids. With Skype (or Facetime if you have an iPhone or iPad), you can make free face-to-face calls to those distant grandchildren.
What you need to get started:
- Computer, laptop, tablet, or smart phone
- Web cam or built in camera
- Skype application
- Connection to the Internet
Make sure you talk to the parents of your grandchildren and let them know that you want to use Skype to connect with your grandchildren. Parent support is critical.
As you use Skype, keep in mind that your young grandchildren’s attention span might not be very long. A minute for every year your grandchild is old is a good guideline for babies up through kindergarten. School-aged children will be able to sit for longer amounts of time and stay focused while Skyping.
There are many things to do while Skyping besides just talking. Here are a few that we’ve had great success with:
1. Read Books
Read a picture book to your young grandchildren. Make sure you show them the pictures as you read along. Have your school-aged grandchild read out loud to you. This will give parents a break from listening while their children read, give the grandchild reading practice, and give you a chance to enjoy time with your grandchild.
As your grandchildren get older, you can hold a virtual book club. Decide what book you will both read. When you Skype, discuss the book and what you thought of it.
2. Sing Songs and do Finger Plays
Your toddler grandchildren will especially love these activities. Perennial favorites such as Old MacDonald, Teensy Weensy Spider, and The Wheels on the Bus are always fun. Alternatively, you can color pictures together and show each other your finished pictures.
Older grandchildren will enjoy playing games such as Battleship or Candy Land with you. Yahtzee, Boggle, and Scattergories also lend themselves well to playing over Skype.
3. Show and Tell
Does your grandchild have a pet? Encourage her to show it to you. If you have a pet, share it with your grandchildren. Likewise, if your grandchild has a special stuffed animal, doll or toy, encourage them to share it with you. Much like they might do at school, ask about the object, what letter it starts with, how many legs it has, etc.
For older grandchildren, talk about a current movie that you both have seen, how their favorite sports team is doing, or about their after-school job.
4. Skype on Special Occasions
For example, have your grandchildren show you their Halloween costume, the outfit that they will wear on the first day of school, what they got in their Easter basket, or what they got for their birthday or for Christmas. When you send your grandchild a birthday present, a Christmas gift, or care package, have her open it up while you watch over Skype.
Have special Skype ‘parties’. One grandson knew that Twix was his grandfather’s favorite candy bar. While Skyping, they both ate a Twix. (That was the extent of their party.) You could celebrate National Popcorn Day (January 19), National Watermelon Day (August 3), or National Donut Day (November 5) and eat the food associated with that holiday while Skyping.
With a little bit of effort, you can connect with your grandchildren who don’t live nearby. Then, when you finally do get to visit face-to-face, you won’t be strangers.
Photo credits: Ashley Sisk Photography
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