The joy of being a grandparent cannot be overemphasized. Snuggles, storytime, puzzles, games and snacks with the grandkids are some of the most precious moments in the world, but what’s a grandparent to do when the little ones live far away? Visits are always wonderful, but for many of us, we simply can’t get together in person as often as we’d like. But don’t fret—there are lots of fun, engaging and rewarding ways to be a meaningful part of your grandkids’ lives, even when they’re miles away. Below, we take a look at our top five tips for connecting with younger family members.
Go beyond video calls
When you can’t be together in person, a video call is often the next best thing! You get to see each other’s faces and hear each other’s voices—but, anyone who’s tried to maintain a conversation with a toddler knows that it can be… difficult. Younger children aren’t typically that interested in sitting for an extended conversation, which is why it’s a good idea to plan ahead and include some fun and games. You can devise your own entertainment for basic video calling platforms, or try a purpose-built app like Together, which has games, activities and stories built right in.
Play online games together
Kids learn through play, which is why it’s a great idea for long-distance grandparents to get in on the fun. If your grandkids are a bit older, there’s a good chance they’re already playing one or more online games. Chat with them to find out what they like playing—and then get involved! Minecraft, Fortnite and Roblox all have multi-player modes, and you can also explore games like Among Us. For many of these games, all you need is a desktop computer or a smartphone, and playing together creates an opportunity for you to bond with your grandkids. And, it gives them a chance to “be the teacher” and show you around a game they love!
Send care packages and snail mail
Nothing beats the excitement of opening a care package—even in the digital age! Sending special mail is another way long-distance grandparents can connect with their grandkids. Hand-written letters, special keepsakes and homemade postcards can help remind the little ones of your love and affection. And, if they want to reciprocate, they can turn it into a fun craft activity.
Share digital storytime
Reading stories together is another excellent way to connect with long-distance grandkids. For older children, reading a favorite chapter book can be a nice way to tackle a longer story together over a few weeks or months. Choosing stories or books with sentimental or cultural value can also help you pass along traditions and history. If different timezones make it difficult to schedule a call, you can also record a video of you reading a story and share it for a special bedtime routine.
For younger kids, look for a platform that makes it easy to share picture books. Together’s library is pre-populated with hundreds of books and also lets you scan and upload your own stories, making it a user-friendly option for grandparents and grandkids.
Enjoy a watch party
Grab a cozy blanket, pop some popcorn and choose one of your favorite movies to share with the family. Most of the popular streaming platforms have the option to watch a movie simultaneously with family and friends—and this can be a great option for the grandkids. With a little pre-planning, you can arrange to stream a kid-friendly tv show or movie and enjoy a shared experience from miles apart.
It’s easier than ever to stay connected with the grandkids between visits. You can play, read, share experiences and make memories, no matter how far away you are—and this helps you form a meaningful and lasting relationship with younger family members. Get creative, get resourceful and lean on technology to help you out.
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