Children and their grandparents have a very special bond. I have so many wonderful memories with my grandparents as I was growing up; sleep overs, shopping for the perfect Christmas gifts, sitting on phone books at the kitchen table so we could reach and eating lots of ice cream. My Mamaw always had a container of bubble gum in her kitchen cabinet. That was the first place we ran to when we came over. It never failed, it was always there.
When I got married and moved away, my grandparents were high on the list of what I missed most about home. Once I had children of my own, I knew that I wanted them to have just as special a relationship with their grandparents as I did with mine. My girls are lucky to have one set of grandparents that live in the same town we do. We spend lots of time with them and they are there to participate in lots of the day-to-day activities. My parents live 10 hours away. Since we don’t see them as often as we would like, we have found a few tricks that help the girls have that extra special relationship with them, long distance.
PICK UP THE PHONE
With everyone having cell phones today, phone calls are the easiest way to stay in touch. Find out what times are convenient each day or week to call. It might even work to set up a set day and time each week for your call. My parents always make sure to ask about the girls day and they get to hear a first hand account of all the news. We call and leave messages for them when they aren’t home and the girls always get a Happy Birthday song, sung to them on their special day.
LOTS OF VIDEO
Make sure your grandparents have a video camera or phone that takes video. The girls love to take little clips that we can email. Small hand held video cameras such as the FLIP or even your IPhone are easy to use and sending a video literally takes one click on your computer. As a result, they will get the video immediately and can probably congratulate the girls on their ballet recital before they are even off the stage!
Have the grandparents take a video of themselves to send to your child. Imagine your child’s delight in getting a video of their Grandmother of Grandfather. They could video themselves reading a book or telling a funny story. Your child can watch the video later and still feel connected even when they can’t be with them.
SKYPE AND FACETIME
We LOVE Face time! Face time and Skype both enable you and your children to sit in front of your computer and chat, face to face. It will appear as though you are sitting across the kitchen table and not hundreds of miles apart. Skype and Face time are fantastic because your child can hold up a piece of finished art work or show off their latest skill and their grandparents can see it immediately. The impact of real face time is enormous!
The trusty postal service is a great way to keep in touch with your out of town grandparents. I know my parents love to get mail from the girls. We send pictures and art that they have drawn. Children are used to seeing their parents get mail and it’s a special occasion when they get a package or letter that is addressed to them. About once a month, a package shows up on our front door from my parents. A cute card, a packet of stickers, candy or the latest dress my mom has sewn for them.
A wonderful gift is the Hallmark recordable books. Buy one for your parents and have them record your child’s favorite story that you can replay for them at bedtime. What better treat then having their grandparents read their bedtime story to them. Hearing their grandparents voice each night will help your child feel close to them even when they are far away.
… And the most obvious one, visit as often as you can! It’s often hard to travel with little ones, but lots of planning ahead can make that trip to visit grandparents all the more special!