If your grandchildren live more than 200 miles away from you, you’re not alone. According to a recent AARP report, half of all grandparents in America live more than 200 miles from their grandchildren.
So what’s the secret of staying connected across the miles? You’ve got to make a conscious sustained effort, say the four grandma/authors of a new book, The Grammie Guide: Activities and Answers for Grandparenting Today. Here are some of their tips for long-distance grandmas.
Tips For Long-Distance Grandmas
- Start building the bonds when your grandchild is young and you’ll have a strong foundation as the child grows and gets to know you.
- Plan ahead. Long-distance grandparenting does not lend itself to last-minute action. Mark your calendar two or three weeks ahead of your grandchild’s birthday to allow time for shopping and mailing.
- Enlist the parents’ help in setting up a regular day and time to call or Skype with your grandchild. Remember that they are the portals to your grandchild.
- Be sensitive to your grandchild’s parents and ask if you’re calling at a good time, both for the child and her parents.
- Ask your grandchild open-ended questions when you’re talking on the phone rather than questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no.”
- Send a surprise of the month that focuses on a holiday or season in that month. For example, send a colorful beach towel in June to celebrate the beginning of summer.
- Create rituals during your visits that your grandchild will remember and look forward to the next time you visit.
- Be consistent with your communication and learn the names of the friends, teachers, and neighbors in your grandchild’s life.
- Create your own signature greeting for saying hello and goodbye, whether it’s singing or rhyming or using a silly voice.
- Commemorate your grandchild’s visit with a journal, collage or photos of the special things you did together.