Not too long ago grandparents lived in the same household with their children and grandchildren. However, in today’s culture thousands of miles may separate family members. Many long distance grandparents have found that staying close to their grandchildren can be challenging but is very possible.
The first important thing to keep in mind is that your child and his or her partner are the doorways to your grandchildren. With the cooperation of the parents, long distance grandparents can utilize some of the following ideas to make the distance seem not so far.
Visit When Possible: If at all possible arrange to be there when your grandchild is born. Early bonding with your grandchild is important, but do remember to be respectful of the wishes of the parents. The more often that you can physically be with your grandchild, the easier it will be to build the relationship. Start setting aside a travel fund and save money to make special trips to see your grandchildren.
Set Telephone Dates: Small children love to play with telephones but sometimes freeze up when asked to talk on the real phone. It helps to set up a time for phone calls when your grandchildren are not too tired and do not have much else going on. Using speaker phone may also reduce the pressure on the child.
Use Photographs: Be sure to give the parents pictures of you, especially pictures of you with your grandchildren if possible. Ask them to display the pictures where your grandchildren will see them on a regular basis. Consider making a photo book that you can send to your grandchild. You might also want to create a family website where all members of the family can post pictures and news.
Chat Using Webcams: Webcams are the newest tools to keep families close. There are many video calling software programs that are easy to set up and can even be used free of charge if both parties have an account. Check out skype.com for free internet calls.
Email: As your grandchildren get older, you will be able to keep in touch by email. You can have your grandchildren email from the parents account or have the parents set them up their own email account.
Write Letters: Children of all ages still love getting letters in the mail. Take time to write letters on a regular basis to your grandchildren. If you are artistic you can add cartoons or sketches. You can even send greeting cards or handmade cards.
Send a Package: Children usually get super excited about getting a package in the mail. Sending several small items is usually better than one big item. Ask parents for ideas of what your grandchildren would like. With the speed of mail these days, you can even ship homemade cookies or candy.
Through these methods you should be able to still feel close to your grandchilden even though you are miles apart.