Bonding with Long-Distance Grandparents
Today with all the wonderful technology, there is no reason why long-distance grandparents need to be out of the loop. Children can bond with grandparents long distance if you make them part of your daily life using the technology available.
Don’t think that Granny can’t learn new technology – dangle more time with grandkids in her way and she will learn. And, most grandparents today are actually pretty tech savvy. After all, the internet has now been here as we know it for more than 20 years.
Here are some great bonding tips for keeping the relationship close in spite of the distance.
- Read Stories– Send your kids an iPad, then use the technology such as Facetime, Skype, Facebook or Zoom.us to connect with sound and picture to your grandchild live at story time. Try to do it at least weekly.They can watch you read to them and talk to you and ask questions, almost as if you’re there. As they get older, they won’t even need their parents’ help.
- Do a Project Together – Using the same technology or even email or a special private Facebook group, work on projects together. You can teach your grandchild all sorts of things using this technology, from sewing to cooking.With a little help from mom and dad when they’re little, and then on their own as they get older, it’s a great way to stay connected and build that bond.
- Help with Homework– Are you good at a subject that you can tutor your grandchild with, such as math or science? Using technology such as private Facebook groups, Zoom.us conference technology and more, will enable you to work alongside your grandchild on almost any type of school work.
- Play Video Games– Today, many types of video games are interactive. This means you can play games alongside your grandchildren that you never thought possible. You can talk to each other and see each other during the games, making them even more fun and exciting to both of you.
- Share Recipes– Are you a good cook and the keeper of the family recipes? If so, the internet is a wonderful way to share these with your grandchild. You can set up a YouTube Live or even simply record yourself cooking a recipe and share it with your grandchild via email or your private Facebook group.It doesn’t even have to be live; it can also be asynchronous, allowing your grandchild to learn from you when they have free time.
- Write Letters– Don’t forget the good old-fashioned letter sent via email or snail mail. Both are much appreciated and great ways to stay in communication with your grandchildren as they age. Another thing to consider is texting technology. Currently, younger people prefer texting over other types of communication. If you want to really know what’s going on, you need to enter this arena. Remember, these are just new tools for communication; they’re not better or worse than what was before.
- Create a Family Photo Album – Today with technology, everyone takes a lot of pictures, but often they get lost. Create a family photo album using software like Dropbox.com. With Dropbox, you can pay a small monthly fee to get more storage and create one account for everyone to upload their images to, so that you can organize them.
- Schedule Get-Togethers – Even with technology it’s important to find a way to spend time together in person. Consider hosting or scheduling a trip to visit the kids. If you go visit them, consider staying in a hotel to make it less work for your kids. Several shorter visits throughout the year can make up for a lot of time.
Staying close when far apart is easier than ever before in history. If you need to get more confident with technology, check your local Apple store for classes on using the great technology available. Tell them that you want to learn how to use technology to communicate with your long-distance family. They’ll be happy to show you what you can do.
If you are long distance grandparents, I want to share a few ways that you can make your visit special when you do get to visit with those precious grandkids.
Here are Five Ways to Make Your Visit Special
When you live a long distance from your grandkids, you probably don’t get to see them very often. Today, most grandparents still work, so they’re lucky to get to see the grandchildren during vacations and holidays. Having such a short time together can make it hard to know what to do to make each visit special.
- Let Mom and Dad Lead the Way
It doesn’t matter if you did it “that way” and all turned out fine. Your child has made a choice with their spouse to do things a certain way: their way, not yours. It’s not a critique of your parenting skills when children do things their own way.
Try to remember what it was like when your parents or in-laws didn’t comply with your wishes with your kids, and don’t do the same thing.
You don’t have control over this situation and no amount of fighting it will give you any control. If your child is not abusing your grandchild, just let mom and dad lead the way and follow their rules for the kids. If you do this, you’re going to enjoy the visit a lot more than if you fought them about how they do things.
- Save Gifts for the Last Night
This is especially important when you don’t see the grandkids as much as you want. Don’t show up and shower gifts on the grandchildren right away. You don’t want the grandkids to think of you as some kind of rich Santa Clause. You want them to know who you are outside of gifts.
Save gifts for the last night or the day you leave to help them cope with the change instead. This will ensure they’re thinking of you long after you leave. Also, only give parent-approved gifts. Double check the appropriate ages for the gifts too. The packages say the ages for safety reasons. You’ll be glad that you did that.
- Get Some Alone Time
Nothing is better than giving the parents some time to themselves so that you can get time with the grandkids alone. That one-on-one time is something they’ll remember forever. If you have multiple grandkids, try to get some time alone with each one when possible. That will also increase your bond with them. Plus, by letting the parents get out alone, you’re helping your grandkids by encouraging a healthy marriage.
- Experiences Over Things
You know how fast time goes when kids are little. They grow so fast that the best toy today will be too childish for them in six months. That’s why giving experiences is a better gift. Give lessons like dance, gymnastics, swimming or karate to grandkids – with parents’ permission.
Another idea for older kids is sending them to Space Camp or taking them to Disney. These are the types of gifts that will be remembered when they’re adults.
- Get Creative
If you have the craft gene, go ahead and plan some sort of crafty activity together during your alone time – such as baking or making mom and dad gifts. Or if you’re not crafty by yourself, try taking them to a painting or other type of class. This will give them something to take away from the experience and remember it by.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, I have a great tutorial for an easy Valentine’s Day decoration that I made with our 3 year old grandson.
These ways to make your visit with your grandchildren special will pay off in a big way over time. After 18 years of building your relationship, your grandkids will be very happy that you did and so will you.