Friday, 4 April 2014

Tips for long distance grandparents

Being a grandparent is one of the most exciting experiences that there is - perhaps beyond having your own children – but what happens if you’re living a long way away from your grandchildren?

Whether you’re a grandparent who has retired abroad, or if your own children have moved their family overseas, the prospect of hundreds or thousands of miles separation can be daunting. Although it can leave many grandparents feeling as though they’re missing out on important times in their grandchildren’s lives, the good news is that it’s never been easier to stay in touch.

Living in different countries, time zones or continents doesn’t need to affect the bond between you and your grandchildren. Here are a few of our tips, practical and fun, for long distance grandparents:

Get online

Video calling and conferencing isn’t just for the office; for many expats it’s a lifeline which keeps them connected to life at home while they’re off discovering pastures new. Different time zones can be frustrating, so it’s well worth arranging specific times for video calls – the services for them are often free, and are very easy to use.

If you’re not social media savvy already, you’re missing out! It’s a great way to stay in touch and share photos and videos and you can go the extra mile by making digital communication fun as well as practical. What about reading a bedtime story, playing games such as I Spy or helping with homework via video call?

The brilliant thing about this technology is that you’re not bound to sitting still with it. If your family are living abroad, ask the children to take you on a tour of their new home – also a nice idea if you’ve made the move yourself.  Play online games with your grandkids – they might not be able to visit you every day but you can still be an important and exciting part of their lives.

Rediscover the letter

With so much communication done through email, it’s rare to receive an actual letter these days - and this is particularly true for younger people and children. Where emails are so easily overlooked or lost amidst online spam, there’s something lovely and old fashioned about receiving a personal letter, which can be kept by your grandchildren as a memento for the years to come. Adding personal touches like small drawings, stickers, confetti or even some small token like a pressed flower – anything that makes opening the letter a more exciting experience. 

Image source: Creative Commons / Paul Simpson

Send them a taste of your new home

If you’re looking for a more unique way to maintain the connection, why not send your family a taste of your new home? Although you might be slightly limited in the type of food you can realistically post abroad, there are bound to be more travel-friendly foods available locally – think small and package them up carefully to help them go the distance!

Visits

Visits from the grandchildren will always be lovely even when you’re living at home, but if you’re living abroad and they come to stay, it’s even more of an opportunity – not only to spend quality time together, but to open their eyes to cultures and ideas they might never have experienced. Being able to arrange visits for longer periods of time is another possible perk, as you can forge stronger relationships together during this time. 

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