We live next door to my parents, which means my boys get to see their grandparents most days – often when they scurry over to their house after school/kindy for one of Gran’s homemade ice blocks.
My brother and his family live in Japan though, which means my five-year-old nephew gets to see them not nearly as often.
But you know what? My parents adore their grandson abroad just as much as my two, who I sometimes think they might get a little sick of!
It’s all about connection when you are a long-distance grandparent. Here are five tricks to keep the connection strong between your kids and their grandparents:
1. Embrace technology
Thankfully our kids are growing up in a world where we don’t need to be in the same place at the same time to feel connected.
Video chat using FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype and the like, is the easy way for little ones to SEE their grandparents and vice-versa.
Even if you just hold up the phone while your kiddo plays or waters the plants for his grandparents to watch is a gift of him.
Encourage your little one to ‘talk’ to the phone, even if he’s yet to learn all the words by holding up his favourite toys and pointing things out to show his biggest FaceTime fans.
Even a simple photo that you snap on your phone and send in an instant is an easy way to fill everyone’s hearts up.
Likewise, kids love getting their own texts from a grandparent. This could just be a photo of the dog leashed outside the shops they saw that morning, or a photo of the muffins Granny made for afternoon tea with a promise that they’ll be made again the next time he comes to visit.
The point is to embrace technology and make the ‘thinking of you’ messages frequent.
2. Don’t forget snail mail
While technology is great, nothing beats having a picture your little love has drawn or a kindy craft his little hands has made arrive in the post.
Make the effort to send his love by snail mail and likewise, grandparents, never underestimate the delight your grand-babies get from seeing the postman and wondering if she’ll have a parcel for them!
3. Scheduling visits
Distance can make the heart grow fonder, it’s true!
How exciting is it for your little one when you mark the day on the calendar when her beloved grandparents will come and she can count this down?
While regular visits may not be possible, scheduling visits when they CAN happen is.
Of course this is only something you can decide on within your family, but if the visit happens say, once a year where you go to them and then they come to you the next year, then kids will learn this is an arrangement that’s been set up and that they WILL get to see their grandparents when it’s ‘time’.
4. Bedtime stories with Granny and Grandpa
Let your little one enjoy a bedtime story with his grandparents by asking them to video-read a book to him, holding up the phone as they turn the pages.
Unless you need to hold the phone for your little one, you can leave him to enjoy this precious time with his grandparents.
5. Draw a ‘love button’
Then when there are times when your little one is missing his grandparents a little too much, do the love button trick.
This is where you simply draw a love heart on the back of his hand and tell him that by pressing it, it will send a hug to his grandparents.
Set up a video chat where his grandparents also draw one on their hand and then show him how when he presses his, they receive a warm hug (pretending, but kids love pretend!).
He will enjoy smiling and saying ‘ooooh, I felt that!” when he sees them press theirs too. It will become a little game.