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Staying in Touch with Long-Distance Grandchildren

Living in a mobile society that allows us the freedom to move from state to state or to other countries provides many positives.  But being close to grandchildren and thus able to develop close relationships isn’t one of them.


Distance initially can be exciting: your son or daughter snares a fantastic job in a city you’ll love visiting.  But when they settle down and your grandchildren begin to arrive—it’s no longer exciting.  Unless you are able to jump on a plane in a moment, wistful yearnings enter you life.  Even day-to-day sadness…

  • I’d like to be there when Sarah has her baby
  • Maybe I can be there for the baby shower
  • If only I could be there for Grandparents’ Day
  • I just want to be there…

Many 50-something grandparents miss frequent contact.  Here are some ideas for forming strong and meaningful connections.  Consider your grandchildren’s ages when choosing!

Long-distance Grandparenting Ideas

  • Special phone calls: on any old day, just ask to speak to your grandchild—they love getting personal calls
  • Your favorite thing todaycall and share yours then ask them to share theirs
  • Skype, Face Time, i-Chat etc: a great way to have face to face as well as voice contact
  • e-cards like Blue Mountainsend interactive cards on special days like  Valentine’s, Easter, Christmas, Hanukah, and of course birthdays
  • Snail mail—children LOVE it!  Keep in touch sending small gifts like stickers, coloring books, books, music CDs—or simply print a note of love, clip a fun cartoon and address it just to them!
  • Photo sharing: share photos via Facebook or email; iPhones have video capabilities so you can experience your grandson’s first steps or your granddaughter’s first words
  • Photos of your life and your worldyour grandchildren will see your Christmas tree or your birthday celebration when they can’t be there
  • Photo books (iPhoto, Snapfish): after a visit or vacation, make two copies, one for you and one for them
  • Grandchildren Calendar (iPhoto, Snapfish)create a calendar using photos of you and your grandchildren for each month; mark the dates for visits or special events
  • Nana’s Calendar: create a special monthly calendar with your name on it —ask your grandchild to write about a happy, exciting, sad or confusing day; when they send it back to you or read over the phone, you can share advice, love and laughter with them
  • Growth Chart: send each grandchild a Growth Chart printed with your phone number—you want a phone call when each new measurement occurs
  • Grandkids space: prepare a special place in your home when they visit—for younger kids, have a small table and chairs, games, toys and drawing materials, for older games and books and privacy
  • Encouragement: pledges for fund raisers, report card rewards, attending special sports or musical events–they all cement a great relationship

More Ideas for Bonding with Your Distant Grandchildren

  • Joe, a personal trainer, had a photo taken of him with his four grandchildren wearing their team jerseys. Everyone has a copy!
  • Sue takes her grandchildren on periodic trips to different places in the U.S.
  • John loves to sit with his grandchildren and start a story: Once upon a time—at a certain point he stops the story and one of the grandchildren picks up the thread and continues.  The ensuing story provides laughter and fun.
  • I spend hours painting and coloring with my grandchildren.  Often we play music and sing while we create.
  • Kathy has older grandchildren. They play Words with Friends back and forth.
  • Pat reads a book and passes it to her granddaughter—they share and discuss later on.

Please share your ideas—all of us want to bridge that distance and stay close to our grandchildren.

Read more from Elizabeth Havey on her blog, Boomer Highway 

Elizabeth Havey

I’m a baby boomer, member of the hectic sandwich generation. I write Boomer Highway to help slow down the frenetic pace of life. I want to be “Your road to mind-body wellness for a longer life.” A registered nurse and health educator, I am passionate about preventative health measures and women’s health. Together, let’s deal with the snags in the fabric of life that affect our generation, our children and grandchildren. Together we can solve problems, stop racing along the boomer highway and slow down life’s pace. Wouldn’t it be great to navigate the coming decades on a peaceful road?

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Beth Havey

Wednesday 3rd of September 2014

Hi Kim, I love those books that let you record your voice. It's meaningful and often better than a phone call. Bedtime is so special and often I just wish I were there. Beth

Kim Tackett

Wednesday 3rd of September 2014

My girls are gown now, but my mom and dad, who lived 500 miles away, used to record themselves reading bedtime stories to my daughters. It was great to be able to put the girls down for quiet time with a special book and their tape recorder and let Grandma and Grandpa do the reading!

Mo at Mocadeaux

Wednesday 3rd of September 2014

Just this morning I had a lunchtime Face Time visit with my 2 year old twin grand sons who live 3,000 miles away. It is very tough living so far from the little nuggets but technology is the gift that keeps us connected. I, myself, moved thousands of miles from home so my mom had to count on phone calls and occasional visits to stay in touch with my kids. Even without the benefit of technology they developed a warm and loving relationship and are now Facebook friends! We have a shared photo stream on iPhoto on which we can all post photos (the most popular are the photos of the little guys!) for all of us to see. It can be accessed with an iPhone or iPad.

Beth Havey

Wednesday 3rd of September 2014

Hi Mo, So glad that you have a vital relationship though you are miles away. And with twins--that is wonderful. I stayed in touch with my mother by calling her every day, even as a young busy mother who lived only 30 minutes away. Those ties really help when you want "grandmother" to babysit. A personal relationship with grandchildren is so important. I am physically closer to one daughter now. My other two know that a phone call really helps firm up those bonds.

Beth Havey

Wednesday 3rd of September 2014

Thanks Carol and Rena. I am fortunate to live closer to my three grandchildren now, so I don't need to Skype. But if my daughter in Boston ever has a child--I'll need the list again!!

Rena McDaniel-The Diary of an Alzheimer's Caregiverr

Wednesday 3rd of September 2014

What a great list! I so need to start doing some of these with my two grandsons.

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