Our nation is more mobile now than probably any time in history. Yes, the famous words “Go West Young Man,” reportedly spoken by Horace Greeley, are indicative of all the people through the years who traveled far away, leaving friends and family for years, if not forever. But now, we have people going back and forth hundreds of miles-by plane, bus, car, and train – sometimes on a daily occurrence. And yes, that includes plenty of grandparents visiting long distance grandkids.
That can be a challenge, can’t it? Compressing weeks, months, or even a whole year worth of hugs, kisses, and sharing into one week – give or take. How do we do it? Can we do it? YES we can. I have done it often for years, as have many of my relatives and friends including Lisa of Grandma’s Briefs. We are here to assure any new long distance grandparents, you CAN keep close relationships despite the distance. How?
Staying Close While Grandparenting Long Distance
- For me, first and foremost, is prayer – As I read today in Colossians 1 during my daily Bible study, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” It’s a grand model of what and how to pray for all of our loved ones, including our sweet grandchildren. What a blessed way to leave a sweet spiritual legacy, don’t you think?
- Phone calls – It’s been interesting. Not all grandchildren like to talk on the telephone. Of my many grandkids, one LOVES to talk on the phone – she’s my little phone-buddy. A few HATE to talk on the phone. The rest are rather mixed so we get to occasionally but not super lots. Makes me doubly grateful for texting, snail mail, and visits.
- Read or sing together – in person or on the phone. I love to read to my grandchildren and they enjoy being read to. Over the years I’ve read a few books to them on the phone or sung fun songs to them. One grandchild loves to read to me and that’s interesting as well. She picks out a favorite book periodically which gives us a fun time on the phone and a chance to learn more about her and her likes. Times change though. A few are getting old enough and are such great readers, that special time has ended for them and me. But now, they’ve moved on to…
- Texting – a handful of my grandkids are old enough to get to use a family smart phone for occasional texting with family or close friends. That has opened up fun times of text chatting and playing Words with Friends or Carcassonne long distance. It tends to go in spurts – a bunch of texts/plays for a half hour, then nothing for days. But that does work well around my work schedule.
- iPhone or other Smart Phone Games – in person and across the miles My grandkids and I have enjoyed Words with Friends and Carcassone sitting side by side or hundreds of miles apart. Hangman is another favorite of ours – cuddling close or driving in the car (they do all the word picking unless we come to a stop, then I can pick one for them – but mostly it’s them picking the word and me guessing without being able to look). Talk about great brain exercise for both of us!
- Board Game Fun – Granted, most people don’t play these from long distance but I frequently travel with two or three of our favorite board games in my suitcase to enjoy with the grandkids when I get there. A simpler solution is to gift those favorite games to them at birthdays or Christmas and then play them when you visit. Trouble, Sequence and Chess continue to be favorites of my grandkids with me – while Risk is a favorite for them and their other set of grandparents – my sweet “co-grandparents.” 🙂 (If y’all are into chess big time that IS a board game that can be played without seeing the board, using just the names of the board squares. We don’t do that, but it could be fun for chess fans!)
- Face time – YES, we often see our picture on that Facetime screen and feel like we look ODD on Facetime, but generally speaking, the kids don’t care how they or we look. So I have just learned to ignore what I look like and cherish the moments of enjoying what my grandkids look like. 🙂
- Video Fun – Some grandparents do videos the normal, traditional, serious way. Thanks to an Instagram friend, my grandkids and I do it hilariously, using Crazy Helium Booth (the paid version). Every so often, we’ll videotape ourselves talking and text it to each other – enjoying great laughter in the process.
- Crafts – You know me, so you knew this was coming. Here are some of the things I took with me on my last driving trip to grandkids. I wound up having more time than I thought, though, so had to make an emergency run to Michael’s Crafts for even more craft goodies! The funny thing was, though, we immediately got immersed in something else and the extra goodies ended up staying unused – waiting for a sick day with their mom or my next visit. All in all, though, we had a great time, a lovely visit, and made some cute projects, affordably thanks to the Dollar Store. Now that I’m home, I’m always watching out for fun ideas to share with you on Facebook as well as to save for ideas for my next visit OR to pass on to the moms and grandkids to enjoy now. Craft projects also make great gifts – for birthdays, holidays, or just plain “I’m bored” days. Even though I might not be there when they make them, I still got to be a part of them having educational and tactile fun with crafts from a long way away. Very cool to think about!
- Snail Mail – My senior mom sticks with snail mail and she and the grandkids all love that. They thrill to get mail, enjoy the cards she picks out or the articles she clips and sends them. She even subscribes to a couple of fun magazines including Birds and Bloom and A kids nature magazine. She clips fun photos and activities from these magazines and sends them to various grandchildren. Again, great brain food for both her and them.
Grand Resources for Grandparents
It helps that we are not alone. There are many long distance grandparents out there and plenty of terrific resources to help us, including:
- Lisa, Grandma’s Briefs
- Susan Adcox, About Grandparenting
- Grandparents.com magazine
- Spoonful (which has combined with Family Fun – another fave resource over the years)
- Crafty Crow
- Lego Activities
Grandparents who live far away from grandchildren definitely have some extra challenges. You’ve heard some of my best tips for dealing with it. Now it’s your turn. Do you have any special tips for long distance grandparenting? We’d love to hear!