For many of us, being a grandparent can be bittersweet when grandchildren live long distance. It can become frustrating sending love by email, mail, and the phone. Especially when the grandkids are too young to appropriately communicate their thanks, and the parents are too busy or distracted to make calls and send emails of their own. Even after a long separation from seeing your grandkids, however, the lightening bolt of recognition quickly sparks, and its as though they were just in your company only days before. Youll be rewarded with smiles and giggles that will melt your heart, and make all of your efforts seem rewarded. Even the younger, 2-year old toddlers will detach from their mommy’s leg, and rush to show you his newest choo choo train. Its these times that will keep you packaging your intense love for them, pouring your sweetest thoughts into an email, and making the numerous phone calls, even when no one may want to talk on the other end of the phone. Its the little things that continue to make you an essential part of your grandchilds life, no matter how long the distance between you; the littlest things that excite and light up your grandkids.
There are so many ideas to keep your bond strong, and below are just a few to help you keep the connection.
Pictures are a wonderful way to keep a clear, visual image of you in their heart and minds. A goodnight board with laminated photos of you is a great way for them to include you in their bedtime ritual. My children’s Nini laminated pics of a recent visit to their home, and turned it into a placemat. So, every time they sit down for a meal or snack we remember the fun times we had and the memories that were made. Their Nini’s newest gift of love is a pillowcase she has made for each of their birthdays, so when they lay their heads down for sleep they’re reminded of who is helping to give them a good night’s rest and it’s like getting a goodnight hug from afar.
Some kids talk so much on the phone; you secretly probably want to end the call before they do, while for others its like pulling teeth. Unfortunately mine are the latter, but the oldest is getting a bit better about it when he is asked questions about something he is intrigued with for the moment. What’s the name of the little boy across the street you like to play with? Who is your pick to win the Super Bowl this year? Asking open-ended questions, and paying special attention to their interests and feelings shows them how much you care.
We all have that one lone sock in the dryer that looses its mate every now and then. Instead of throwing it away next time, send it to your grandchild with a note tucked inside. Tell them to run around outside and see what sticks to the bottom. They can then call and tell you all of the fun things that wound up on the bottom of their feet. Although you can’t plant a garden together, you can plant identical plants or vegetables. Send each other seeds and maybe a magical fairy rock to your granddaughter, for a bit of good growing luck.
Starting a collection together, or exploring the same hobby is another fun way to stay in-touch. Exchanging recipes or stories about fishing outings is fun. Collect leaves and comparing what trees you have in your part of the country, to what’s in their neighborhood. Build on whatever might interest them and add your own twist.
When sending letters through the snail mail, you can create stamps with your picture on it, and vice versa. You and they will look forward to seeing whats on the outside of the envelope, as much as what is inside. Speaking of what’s inside, try sending a message on a puzzle that they have to put together to read. Also, you could write a message backwards that they have to put in front of the mirror to decode.
Of course if you have a newer computer you can video chat with your grandkids, and see their smiling faces when time allows. I have to admit that my parents are always ready for a face-to-face chat, but with the time difference and the constant running from here to there, Im not always so good about obliging.
Its a two way street and being a part of your grandchilds/grandparents life shouldnt feel like a chore. Try turning some of these ideas into weekly rituals that you both can look forward to, and make it a long distance date!