Maintaining Long Distance Relationships with Grandparents
The relationship between Grandparents and Grandchildren
There is such a special relationship to be enjoyed by grandparents and grandkids.
While there are often jokes about this relationship being based on ‘breaking’ mom and dad’s rules and being allowed to do things you wouldn’t normally do at home this is just a small portion of this very very special relationship.
My children have an incredible relationship with their grandparents. Aside from allowing them space away from their parents their relationship with their grandparents means that they are taught new skills. My kids also develop new perspectives on life.
Living Far Away from Grandparents
Many people I know live far away from loved ones. It’s a combination of immigration and international travel becoming more common.
In such situations it takes work to maintain familiar relationships between grandparents and grandchildren. It is no longer a case of dropping the grandchildren off for a couple of hours or enjoying regular meals together.
An hour apart to ten hours apart
We were ‘lucky-ish’ when we lived in South Africa. We were in the same Metropolitan as two sets of grandparents and an hour flight from the third set.
However, it still took work maintaining relationships with grandparents who lived a few hours away. With little kids, especially as new parents, it is impossible sometimes to take the kids out to see their grandparents. It is extremely hard getting into a routine and then going out changes that routine. The whole process of travelling with kids just takes that to the next level – anxiety and stress abounds.
Ten Top Tips to Maintaining Long Distance relationships with your kids’ grandparents
- Keep photos of grandparents available. Whether it’s in albums (although my kids would break any such album out of sheer exuberance), in frames in the rooms or around the house, on the fridge or digitally.
- Speak to your kids about their grandparents. If you’ve got pictures show them the pictures so they know who you’re talking about.
- Reference similarities between them and their grandparents. Even the silly things work as kids remember those more often than the serious. For example – my son loves jam – so does grandad 🙂 and my daughter has the same middle name as her granny.
- Let them see their grandparents. Set up regular FaceTime or Skype calls between yourselves. Even if it’s just when the kids are bathing or playing together. Remember, if grandparents are far away, they are missing the mundane too.
- Celebrate birthdays together. Keep a calendar of everyone’s birthdays or save all the birthdays and anniversaries on your phone or computer. Make grandparents a card, photocollage or a video for his birthday.
- Organise birthday cards. Ask grandparents to send you a message on your child’s birthday. Print it out and stick it into a card – a small gift is optional.
- Take plenty of photos. When you are together, take loads of photos or keep mementos – fridge magnets, a t-shirt or small toy. Whenever the kids see the item, remind them about when you spent that time together.
- Make family a priority. See your kids grandparents as regularly as you can. I know it’s hard on the budget and the leave schedule but it’s so important. There will come a time when this is no longer available.
- Read stories together. Have your parents or family who is far away video themselves reading a story. Get them to show the camera the pictures so your kids can follow along as if they were really there. The two variations on this isa) both having the same book so the kids can hold it while the soundbite playsb) send your family the text of the book and your kids keep the book and listen to the recorded reading.
- Photos as mementos. Give grandparents photos of the kids. You can print out photos, make photo gifts (magnets, cutting boards, photo books) or give them a disc with a whole load of photos on.
Even just around the corner?
Even if you’re just around the corner from each other there is no harm in implementing these ideas.