Living Far from Family: 6 Tips to Keep Kids Close to Grandparents

About a year ago, we moved across the country to Cedar Rapids. Our families were happy for our new adventure, but they were also quite sad because they knew that this move meant that they’d be seeing less of us. I felt guilty for a long time for choosing to move my daughter away from her grandparents. To help myself feel better, I decided to do whatever I could to make sure that her grandparents were involved in her life. Here are six things I’ve found that help when you are far from family:

1. Google Hangouts/Skype/FaceTime

We aren’t as good at this as we should be, but we try to video chat when we can with our families. This makes it so my daughter can see them as well as hear them. If I’m being honest, it can be tough trying to keep a toddler still while chatting over a video call. We’ve found it easier to use our phones to record her as she moves freely rather than to sit her in front of the computer.

2. Snapchat

Yes, Snapchat. Call me crazy, but it is one of the most effective and efficient ways to keep relatives seeing little bits of our lives. Because I’m a stay-at-home mom, I can send snaps throughout the day of my daughter. I’ll whip out my phone and record her eating, dancing, or even just playing with her toys. With a few taps, the picture or video is sent to all her grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even some close friends.  We’ve gotten our families so addicted to Snapchat that if I forget to send any snaps that day, I will get messages from those who miss their daily dose of cuteness.

3. Pictures

I take a few pictures of my daughter every morning and send them off to her grandparents. They always are thankful to me for taking time out of my day, but let’s be honest, it isn’t that hard. I take a bazillion pictures of her anyways, so attaching a few to an email or texting them takes almost zero time. I also order prints of those pictures every few months and make double copies of a few of my favorites. We then mail those to our families—because what grandparent doesn’t love a hard copy of a picture? Which brings me to my next tip…

4. Snail mail

The old-fashioned pen, paper, and a stamp. I don’t know about you, but I love getting actual mail and not just ads or bills. My daughter is getting to the stage where she loves to color. Occasionally, I fold up one of her pieces of art, we slap a stamp on it, and send it off. I’m almost positive both grandparents still have the hand-print crayon turkey drawing we made in November on their fridges. Plus, drawing pictures for her grandparents makes for a great activity when we are cooped up inside.

5. Keep up family traditions

Just because you don’t live by family doesn’t mean you can’t do the same things you used to. There are traditions from both sides of the family that we’ve chosen to incorporate into our family. We have our own traditions we’ve started as well. However, when we are doing the same thing at the same time as our families, even when we are miles apart, I feel like we are still close. To feel even closer, we can send pictures of us doing the tradition, or even video chat during it. This can be very helpful especially during the holiday season.

6. Talk about them

As my daughter gets older, she understands more and more of what we say. One thing I’ve been trying to do more lately is to tell her about her grandmas and grandpas. Sometimes, it’s just me mentioning that I’m texting grandpa, or telling her I’m making grandma’s recipe, or reminding her that her grandparents love her. When she gets packages from them, I try to explain to her who it is from and pull up a picture of them to help her make the connection. She may not totally understand yet, but she will in time.

Living Far from Family: 6 Tips to Keep Kids Close to Grandparents

I’ve found that it has been important for me to remember that my daughter is their family too. Of course they want to see her and be involved in her life! Because we can’t always make trips out there or have them here, we do the best with what we’ve got. Even with the distance, I think she knows they love her just as much as we do.

What do you do to stay close with loved ones?

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  1. I know exactly how you feel. Being away is hard! For me, Facetime and Snapchat have let us stay connected even though we’re sonfar away. Another thing I do with pictures is drip them once a month on Google Drive and then share them with the family. That way they can pick and chose which one will bw their new screensaver haha

  2. I was totally thinking about you and having family even further away as I wrote this! I forgot about Google Drive!! I do the same thing with pictures and videos–I’ll have to do a follow-up post and add that in!!

  3. Very nicely said, I miss my grands who moved cross country and love it when I get to see little tidbits of their lives

  4. We live in China, the grandparents live in Iowa. Needless to say, long distance is our thing. One thing I do (since snail mail isn’t as easy here) is to go online and send pictures to be printed at Wal-Mart (or you could do other stores). I choose their local Wal-Mart for pick up and they can just go and get them. Also, now that my children are getting older, they like to send emails themselves. This is a great way for the conversations to continue. We also plan a lot of special things for when we are visiting so they are sure to have one-on-one time with each child.

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