How to Keep Grandparents Involved When They Live Far
BY CHELSEA BECKER, EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTOR
I haven’t lived close to my parents since high school, so I always knew that having children would mean remote grandparents. And while I’d love them to live closer, not only for my son (Cooper) but for their physical support personally, it’s simply not our situation. Here’s how we keep them involved from 2,300 miles away and additional ideas for your own distant family.
While I’m not a fan of screens for my baby, there are so many positives that come with FaceTiming. I want my son to not only recognize my parent’s static face or voices, but their expressions as well. The interaction you can get through FaceTime somewhat mimics real-time, so we break the screen rule for this.
What’s really helped is having a routine that both sides can expect. For example, we often times call my parents after breakfast. This assures that they’re awake with the time difference and they can virtually send my son off for a good day at daycare.
If you’re comfortable with the screen, find a time that’s good for everyone and get in a routine of a quick hello.
I love the idea of recordable books for many occasions. They’re excellent for older children who begin missing a parent while away (work trip, vacation, or even stationed somewhere long-term). They’re also a sweet touch for grandparents.
Amazon has endless options but this is a favorite in our home. You could even simply record a voicemail and play it as you read the book, but that’s a bit more complicated and it means having a phone nearby. Ask your parents to record a few books with their voices so they can “read” to your child daily.
My dad also sends Cooper books with special notes written inside. I read those outloud so eventually he associates that book with grandpa.
If grandparents are far, it likely means your children only see them when they’re together. But in my experience, nothing beats a connection made when 1:1 with someone. My parents have both spent solo time visiting us so that they have special time with Cooper. Or if we visit them, it’s nice to have grandpa / grandma time separately to form unique bonds.
As our son gets older, I’m excited for hobbies to develop that only happens with one of my parents.
Ask for help
While I can’t ask my mom to come over and babysit, I can let her know how she can help. Maybe it’s something big like flying out so that my husband and I can take a trip together, or something small like the need for new comfy pajamas (that she can pick out online).
This way they know they’re lending a hand in some way and they stay in the loop on developments (like growth spurts) that they might miss otherwise.
In the digital age, printed photos have taken a back seat - at least in our home. I recently realized that I didn’t have a single photo of my parents (and only one of my husband’s late father) in our house. Sure, Cooper is a baby and might not be aware yet, but I want him to get used to seeing the grandparent’s faces around the home. Picking up some new frames + printing photos this week.
If you’re not into framed photos, you could also print out a stack for children to go through during bedtime routine, or even make a printed picture book.
We made the long trek to visit my parent’s lake home for the 4th of July and have since decided it’ll be our yearly time to visit. I love the idea of having a set time that the grandparents own and Coop can remember this growing up.
If you have an older kid, you can even consider having them visit the grandparents solo every year at X time. Maybe it’s a week in the summer or a holiday special to them if they can’t fly to you.
I’d love to hear how else you stay connected to grandparents living far so please share in the comments below!