Over the River and Through the Woods: Staying Close To Long Distance Grandparents

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grandparentsMy kids’ grandparents are awesome. They’re active (they rode the Gran Fondo New York), supportive (they were nothing but encouraging when we chose to move from Canada to New York), and love spending time with their grandkids (they always encourage mom and dad to go out for an extra-long date night). Unfortunately, they also live 2,837 miles away.

While we’re fortunate to have my wonderful family nearby, there’s no replacing getting to see both sides of the family regularly. There’s nothing quite like a visit to Grandma’s house: the fun games, the extra treats, and the long hugs make visiting grandparents special for many children.

But how do you stay close when Grandma and Grandpa don’t live nearby? In honor of Grandparents’ Day, try some of these tips to keep Grandma and Grandpa active in the kids’ everyday lives.

FaceTime

Thanks to technology, about everyone has the ability to connect instantly via video chat. We FaceTime Grandma and Grandpa a few times a week, but not in a typical way. We FaceTime from the park, during trips to the zoo, while the kids are in the bath, and during playtime. While there isn’t much “visiting” going on, Grandma and Grandpa get to see the boys in action and participate in their activities in a way that sitting down and chatting doesn’t allow for.

Shared Photo Page

My husband’s family is spread out across four cities in two countries. We utilize a shared photo page almost daily. It’s a great way to share lots of photos and videos without an annoying group text. We’ve only had the page for a few months, but it is fun to look back and see how much the kids have changed in such a short time.

Snail Mail

For Valentine’s Day last year, I had the boys lay down with outstretched arms, and I traced their bodies on a giant piece of butcher paper. They colored it in, and we sent a “hug” to Grandma and Grandpa. Their grandma sends cards, stickers, and paper decorations for holidays all the time. The boys love receiving mail, and it’s another special way for them to connect with their grandparents.

Photo Books

I’m admittedly not great at *actually* doing this, but it is pretty easy to put together a photo book. Compile all of your photos into a fun book after a visit, scan in the kids’ artwork to make an art portfolio book, or document an important milestone or period, like Fall Fun or Swimming Lessons.

Handmade Gifts

Grandparents love handmade gifts from their grandkids, and kids will feel extra special knowing that they’re crafting something just for Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma and I took the boys to paint mugs at the local pottery store on our most recent trip to Canada. The kids chose their mugs and colors very carefully (pink and purple for Grandma and blue and green for Grandpa) and had a blast painting them. Grandma sent us a picture of the coffee mugs in action, and the boys were so proud of their handy work. Another great activity for grandparents is footprint crafts on canvas. Pinterest is full of adorable pictures that you can make with some paint and a few little feet!

Time Together

Nothing beats quality time together. When you’re able to visit in person, give the kids lots of quality time alone with their grandparents. Make a countdown the week before a trip, and talk about all of the fun your kids will get to have with Grandma and Grandpa.

If you’re lucky enough to have grandparents who live nearby, be sure to let them know how much you love them today, too!

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