Grandparents Day is around the corner. This is one of those holidays that I always struggle to remember, and for that I feel really bad. It is not because our kids don’t have great grandparents, they do. It is simply because of the distance between us and both set of grandparents. My family lives in Denmark and my husband’s family is in Seattle – and here we are in Florida. We really could not be further away from our families.
Thankfully we now live in an age where technology has a way of melting the miles away. All of a sudden what used to take a week to reach Denmark can now be delivered instantaneously via email. Phone calls no longer cost $1.30/ minute and we are not limited to see each other’s smiling faces on photographs.
We have found six new ways to help our children stay connected to their grandparents. Keeping their relationship alive and current establishes a great foundation, but also helps when the grandparents come to visit. The kids are familiar with their voices and they are a familiar face, even if it has been months since the last in-person visit.
Facetime/ Skype: The kids know how to connect with their grandparents via Facetime without our help. This gives them the freedom to contact their grandparents whenever they have news to share or wish to show them a new toy. The only downfall to this independence is that the kids do not always take time differences into consideration when they want to speak to their grandparents. My mom has received a number of Facetime calls in the middle of the night from the boys – OOPS!
Calendar: Every year I make a Shutterfly calendar for the grandparents (and aunts and uncles) featuring pictures of the kids from the previous year. These calendars are a great way to keep our kids’ pictures in front of the grandparents, as well as sharing pictures of them with the grandkids from their previous visits. This past year was the first time I didn’t make a calendar for the families, and I was reminded by both sets of grandparents… so I know what I need to do this fall before the new year rolls around.
Wallet pictures: When our kids have their school pictures taken, we always order WAY too many prints. First off, I have a hard time sending back any of the pages that are already developed. But we always make sure to send lots of pictures to each set of the grandparents, so they can keep current pictures in their wallets, on their refrigerator and where ever else they feel the need to display images of their adorable grandkids. I love pictures – so therefore I force pictures of my kids on our relatives – in hopes that they love them just half as much!
School work: Every parent with school aged kids knows the mountains of paperwork that our little hard working cherubs bring home from school. There are countless pages with helpless handwriting, poor spelling and half-dried glue mixed with pasta and sunflower seeds. There is a limit to the amount of ninja drawings and spelling tests that one family can save per child – or at least there should be. We have all tried to sneak the old math tests and spelling words into the trash without our kids seeing it. Well – you can stop that exercise now – instead… mail a few pages each month to the grandparents! Not only does it give you a good reason to get rid of the clutter – I mean masterpieces. But it also gives the grandparents a chance to follow along in little Jacob’s handwriting improvements and Jordan’s perfected ninja drawings. Win win!
Traveling Journal: As the kids get older, this journal will become a cherished keepsake full of shared memories with the grandparents. Get a beautiful blank journal. Start a dialog between your children and their grandparents by writing three questions on the first page. Eventually as the kids get older they will write the questions, but while they are young, go ahead and get started. Mail the journal with the first three questions to the grandparents. Upon receipt of the journal the grandparents will write detailed answers in the journal – ask three questions in return… and you get the idea. Before long the journal will chronicle a written dialog between grandchild and grandparent.
Penpal: This idea has to be my favorite, and I am hoping it will take off as the kids get older. I recently had Jacob sit down and type up an email to his grandparents. I asked him to tell them about his summer. Granted it took him a long time to write just a few sentences, but it gave him great practice on the computer and occupied his little mind for a while. I emailed his message to both sets of grandparents without any further editing. It was not my job to spell check or correct grammar, this was Jacob’s correspondence with his grandparents. They all replied to him within a few hours, which was as instant gratification as we could have asked for. This is something I will encourage more of going forward. As they get older, it will be a nice way for them to connect with their grandparents – slowly melting the miles away.
Check out these great grandparents-related books. (This article contains affiliate links)
The Grandmother Book. We just bought this for my mom and I cannot wait to see what she writes in it. It’s adorable and will make such a great keepsake.
If… (Record-A-Story Series) My mom recorded “The Night Before Christmas” for the kids and we love reading it to them – with her voice.
How to Babysit a Grandpa Adorable book with cute pictures.
How to Babysit a Grandma This is really cute and such a great gift idea.
What do you do to strengthen the relationship with relatives across the miles?