Many of the residents here at our Cincinnati senior living community are long-distance grandparents; meaning, they’re seniors whose grandchildren are living outside the Tristate. When grandparents and grandchildren live far apart — say, a time zone or two — visits might come few and far between.
So what advice do we have for long-distance grandparents? If you feel that distance and time zone differences are causing you and your grandchildren to drift apart, never fear. Today’s article is for you.
Here’s how you can be the best grandma or grandpa you can for children you don’t see as often as you wish.
Skype it up!
Do you know what Skype is? Your grandchildren do. So, if you don’t, it’s high-time you learn to use it.
Skype is a free video chatting application that you can use from your computer, tablet, or smartphone. It allows users to see and talk with one another — for free — over the internet.
And it’s easy to use. All you need to do is download the application from iTunes or Google Store, use your email address to sign up for a free Skype handle and, voila!, you’re set to get in some quality facetime with your grandchildren.
And, speaking of FaceTime, Skype isn’t the only simple video chatting application on the market. Here’s an excellent article, with links to tutorials, about Apple’s video calling service. And check out this how-to article about using Facebook’s free video chat.
Postcards from the edge . . . of creativity
Fifty or 60 years ago, you probably wrote letters to your grandparents. But — let’s be honest with ourselves — the art and practice of letter-writing have waned with the expansion of instantaneous, digital communication.
Maybe the art doesn’t have to, though. Writing may be less popular with today’s youth, but drawing pictures and making crafts are unlikely ever to go out of style.
One particularly creative idea we’ve seen for fostering long-distance fun with the grandkids is to get some fun stationary or construction paper, glitter, stickers, and other basic craft supplies, and make a stack of beautiful postcards — self-addressed and stamped on one side, space for writing or drawing on the other — and send them to your grandchildren.
Encourage them to decorate, draw, or write on a postcard every week or so and send it to you. You’ll never be far from their minds or hearts if they’re drawing you pictures, and you’ll have plenty of refrigerator art you can proudly show off to visiting friends and neighbors.
Sign up for Instagram and share pictures
Most teens these days have their own smartphones. And many of them have Instagram accounts.
Instagram is a free, photo-based social media platform. You can take, edit and share pictures with people who follow your account, and like and comment on photos shared by the people you follow.
If your older grandchild uses Instagram and would be willing to allow you to follow his or her account (might be best to ask first before sending a friend request), download the application, create an account and start sharing away!
It’s a great way to keep up with daily doings in your grandchild’s life and to share with him or her moments in your life, on his or her own digital ground.
Just remember not to go overboard on the liking and the commenting. Keep in touch; don’t smother.
Yes, like in Alice in Wonderland. Many long-distance grandparents miss a birthday or two as a child is growing up. So, when you do get together, play a bit of catch up: celebrate some un-birthdays.
Oh, it’s Labor Day weekend and your granddaughter’s birthday was back in April? Bring out the cake!
There’s no better way to surprise a child than with a party or dinner, a gift and a card or two, and a big birthday hug when they’re least expected. And there’s nothing in the Big Book of Grandparenting that says you must celebrate on the child’s actual birthday.
Be spontaneous in your celebrations; your grandchild will fondly remember that you did long after you’re gone.
Being a long-distance grandparent doesn’t mean being out of sight and out of mind.
Even if your grandchildren live far from Cincinnati, you can shorten the emotional distance by proactively staying in touch, and by making the most of the time you do get to visit in person. Remember: to bond with you, all your grandchildren need is to know that you’re thinking about them and that you love them.