Being a grandparent can bring lots of joy to your life, but it's more challenging when you live in another city, state or even country than your grandkids. Long-distance relationships take a little more creativity to stay in touch with your grandchildren. Try these tips to help you succeed as a long-distance grandparent.
When you're a long-distance grandparent, in-person visits probably aren't very frequent. Talk with your adult kids to plan as many in-person visits as possible each year. Taking turns visiting each other can make the visits less difficult. The number of visits can vary depending on your budget and the physical distance between you.
Instead of going to visit your grandchildren, you might choose a different destination and turn it into an extended family vacation. You might choose a spot in the middle that has lots of fun visitor options, or select a completely different location that everyone wants to visit. Rent a vacation home to share in that location so you can have plenty of time together during the trip.
It's easy to let days or weeks go by without talking to family members if you don't get into a routine. Schedule regular phone calls or video chats with your grandkids to keep in touch. The frequency depends on your preferences and relationship with your family. Some families like to chat daily. Others might prefer a weekly call, which is easiest if you have a standing date on the same night each week. If you're not sure how to fill the time, make a list of questions you can ask about their activities and interests, or revisit things you talked about on previous calls.
Video chat apps make the calls a little more personal because you can see each other. This can be especially helpful for younger grandchildren so they can see who they're talking to and connect your voice to your face. It also makes it easier to share activities together. For example, you might read a bedtime story to your grandkids over video chat so they can see the book as you read. You could even send a copy of the book to them so they can follow along.
If you like tech gadgets like smartphones and tablets, use them as a way to play games virtually with your grandkids. You can download many apps and games on these devices that let you play against other people you know, even if they live far away. It might not be quite the same as gathering around a board game in person, but it's a fun way to spend time together virtually.
When you're a long-distance grandparent, you can't always be there for birthdays, holidays, sports events and dance recitals. Let your grandkids know you care by acknowledging those things. You might call to wish them luck on an upcoming event or send them flowers after a recital. For birthdays and holidays, you might send a package of gifts in advance so they can open them on their special day. It can be difficult to miss those milestones in person, but showing them you remember can help you feel a little closer.
Surprises in the mail don't have to be limited to birthdays and holidays. Sending little items just because lets your grandchildren know you're thinking about them. One way to help you bond and keep updated on what they're doing is writing letters back and forth. You might not always get return letters, but you can continue sending little notes and cards to stay in touch. Care packages with little treats are also a fun surprise for kids to receive.
If you send gifts to your grandchildren, choose items that can help you strengthen your relationships. You might fill out a grandparent journal with memories in it or make a photo gift for your grandchild. If you enjoy crafts, put together a craft kit that your grandchildren can do, and make the same craft yourself so you can compare the results.
You'll likely have friends who have grandchildren who live nearby. It might be difficult to see those interactions, either in person or on social media posts, knowing you can't do the same with your grandchildren. Falling into comparisons with your grandparenting situation can take the joy away from the relationship you have with your family. It can be difficult, but focus instead on the positive experiences and memories. Accepting the situation can help you find more happy moments in it.
Prayer can be a powerful way to handle being a long-distance grandparent. If you're struggling with being so far away from your grandkids, pray about it to ask God for help. Pray on behalf of your grandchildren. You can offer general prayers or pray about specific concerns your grandchildren have. You might also pray with your grandchildren over the phone or via video chat. This lets you model your faith to your grandkids and helps them in their own walk with God.
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