Best Ways to stay in touch with Grandchildren
Families separated by distance:
How many families do you know live within a few short miles of each other? For many people, their family members are scattered across the country. Divorce, employment opportunities, and retirement are three reasons why people find themselves isolated in one part of the country, while the nuclear family resides in another.
If you are a grandparent separated by distance from your grandchildren how can you make the best of the situation? Here are a few tips that may help to make the miles melt away.
Postcards and Letters to Grandchildren
Children love to receive mail. Yes, we live in a technological world and it is easier to pick up the phone or send a quick email, however, there are reasons why an actual letter or postcard is a better choice.
First, your grandchild feels acknowledged and loved when you take the time to send mail. It is as inexpensive as the cost of the postage. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be a quick picture drawn on a blank piece of paper or a card bought at the dollar store. Wal-Mart is one of the many stores who sell 99 cent cards that are specific for kids. It is a simple, “You’re thought of.”
Second, it is a lasting memento. While the call or email can be an instant connection, the letter is a constant reminder to be re-read, cherished and saved, if the grandchild chooses. An assurance that there is a someone, (you), who is part of the larger world outside of his immediate family, who knows him, thinks of him, and follows his life, even if you do not meet on a regular basis.
For grandparents who are ‘on the road’ with their RV visiting all of the places they have put off seeing during their work days, a postcard from these locations can be a wonderful collection for the grandchild waiting back home.
Third, it makes a child feel important when the ‘mail call’ names her as a recipient. When it is usually a parent who receives the bills, notices and letters, it is an exciting moment that breaks up the routine of the day when a child gets to open her own mail.
Fourth, it teaches a child the art of letter writing. By encouraging a response via letters or postcards, the grandchild learns etiquette, through writing thank you letters, and communication, through sending a note relating what is going on in his life. Becoming a pen pal with your grandchild helps to keep communication alive via the written form.
Modern means of staying in touch with grandkids
Many older people feel the computer is too foreign for them to navigate. This can pose a problem because most people are communicating through email. Children of all ages are using email accounts, and older children especially, have access to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, some of the more popular social network sites. By becoming savvy to these sites a grandparent can become his grandchild’s ‘friend’ and stay on top of her activities and friends list.
Cell phones are also a means of closing the circle of distance. Immediate connection is just a phone call away. Children who are very young may not have their own cell phone, but their parents do. So, one phone call can mean talking to both the parent and the grandchild. And, most teens do have their own cell phones, creating a close contact with one’s older grandkids.
Computer cams and skyping are two other ways that are a modern, instantaneous ‘together’ time with family members who live far away. A simple purchase of these services and their products can result in closing the gap that is created when grandparents and grandchildren live apart from one another.
Grandparents can send care packages...
Usually college students temporarily living away from home, or service men and women stationed overseas, are who come to mind when one thinks of care packages. But, any child will delight in receiving a package from grandparents.
Again, it does not have to mean spending a lot of money, but some simple gifts, homemade or bought, along with a food item that is a favorite, can bring a smile to the grandchild’s face.
Stickers are a simple, inexpensive gift that can be easily sent to a very young child. A phone card or gift card can easily be slipped into an envelope for an older child. Everyone loves to feel special and by sending a care package you are sending the message to your grandchild that she is thought of.
A trip to see your grandchildren
Depending on your financial situation, taking a trip to see your grandkids is the best way to get that wonderful grandchild time-all the hugs, kisses, love, and playtime you can get. While it is not always possible to make that happen, if one can plan at least one visit per year and fill in the rest of the months with letters and phone calls, it is precious time well spent.
Challenge yourself this year to see how many creative ways you can stay in contact with your distant grandchildren.