A guest post by writer, mother and military wife, Lychelle Hollback.
For the everyday Mimi or Papaw who don’t have a disposable income, staying connected with their grandbabies from thousands of miles away can prove to be difficult, if it doesn’t, in fact, feel impossible. There is no doubt that it is hard for grandparents to miss big occasions like birthdays, school plays and soccer tournaments. Not to mention the everyday awesome that comes with little ones growing and learning.
Thankfully, with today’s technology like Facebook and Skype, grandparents are able to get a little taste of what is going on in their little blessings’ busy lives. I’m sure y’all can relate when I say that my little ones can work my tablet and phone just as well, if not better, than I can. I know it won’t be long before I’ll have my very own ‘geek squad’ right here at home.
Since we are a military family, living close to grandparents is simply not an option. This means our parents have missed many a moment and will continue to do so. Despite being removed from so many big experiences and a million little ones, my in-laws and my mom have still been able to develop an incredible bond with our boys. I believe the secret to any strong relationship is both sides putting in the time and effort to make it work. It hasn’t always been easy but together we have mastered three ways to make sure our boys stay connected to their grandparents, no matter the distance between us.
Long Distance Grand-parenting: 3 Ways to Stay Connected
Keep the lines of communication wide open: For us, this is the the first and most important way to stay connected. When the boys were still quite little, it was my job to keep the photos and videos covering Nana and Mama’s timelines on Facebook. Although, I still post, tag and text a ridiculous amount of pictures, we’ve been able to add talking on the phone and video chatting on Skype to our communication stockpile and now, the boys talk constantly. Even though some days it is hard to keep the boys engaged in a conversation, they love being able to talk to their grandparents, especially when we can “call them on the computer”. Even if they only talk for a few minutes, it makes their day and after a while all of those short little talks add up; every minute counts. Our five-year-old really enjoys the walkie-talkie style app I have on my phone. He and my mom talk back and forth on it quite a bit and he seems to talk more this way, probably because having to hold the button down when he talks holds his attention and gives his busy hands something to do.
Embrace the magic in going ‘old school’ with traditional mail: I love that our boys’ grandparents always send something for birthdays and Christmas. Making the boys feel like a priority is huge when it comes to staying connected. I am a firm believer that the value of a gift does not directly affect the value of their relationship. My boys couldn’t care less about how much their gift is worth. All they know is that Nana or Mama and Papa took the time to send something to make them feel special on their big day. It means the world to them.
Nothing beats face to face time: Our absolute favorite way to stay connected with Nana, Mama and Papa is with real live visits. We try to visit them as much as we can but now that our older one is in school, it’s not so easy. Since my mom is farther away, she has to fly to see us and since flying is expensive she doesn’t come as much as we would all like. When she is able to come, we plan her trips months in advance. My in-laws, on the other hand, are only about a 10-hour drive from us so they tend to visit with very short notice. This used to be extremely stressful for me because I would fret about planning a bunch of fun activities and making sure the house looked perfect for company. Over time, I have learned to relax and now I realize that they aren’t coming to see my house, they are coming to see us. Not to mention, our boys provide hours of free entertainment.
These are the three ways that our family makes long distance grand-parenting work. However, I believe that as long as the grandparent continually tries to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives, their relationship will know no bounds. So, grandparents, call your little ones today and parents, browse your latest photoshoot and send Mimi and Pop a few of those priceless smiles. Do your part to stay connected.
After all, family is the most important thing.
Do you have grandparents living out of state? How do you stay connected?
Lychelle Hollback is a military wife and stay at home mom to two wonderful boys, ages 2 and 5. She was born and raised in Wisconsin but now resides in South Eastern Virginia, where her husband is stationed with the Navy. Along with writing, she is passionate about music, singing specifically. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, attending play dates and field trips for her boys and writing about what she knows best; being a mom and a wife.