How to Keep Long-Distance Grandparents Close

Nov 13, 2013

My parents never miss my kids birthdays, music recitals or good report cards. The only down side is they live in Newfoundland while we live in Montreal. They are long-distance grandparents. My mom and dad love the kids to bits and vice versa. But the truth is, as the kids get older, I know we have to work on it. Here are a few things we do to keep the ties strong.

  1. Send Care Packages  My mother's packages are one of my favourite things. Sometimes it's a card with Valentine Day stickers. Other times it's matching St. Patrick's Day t-shirts. The best package she sends is at Christmas. It's a box of hand-knit mittens, socks and hats; fun little knick knacks she's picked up over the year; and of course some peanut butter balls--the kids' favourite. The excitement though isn't about what's in the box. It's about opening it. She and my father wrap it with rolls of packing tape and brown paper. The kids have made their own rules--no scissors or parent help. It's now a special part of the holidays for them to see who can bust it open.
  2. Use Video Calling House rule is you can call Nana and Poppy any time. Skype is great for this. When I was on mat leave, I would nurse the baby and Skype with my mother. Also, the kids have performed their ballet recitals and tae kwon do moves via Skype for their grandparents. I might even try this year's violin recital via FaceTime.
  3. Share Photos and Videos on Facebook Why are grandparents one of the fastest growing groups on Facebook? So they can see their grandchildren. Photos and a quick little video post keep us in constant contact. An example? Last winter, I took a video with my phone of my youngest son climbing the snow bank. I posted it and within seconds Nana saw it and sent a comment back. If you are concerned about privacy issues, you can also create private accounts on photo-sharing sites like Flickr, or, if you have Apple devices, you can share photos and videos using the Photo Streaming feature. 
  4. Send Letters and Art I pull together a selection of the month's refrigerator finger paintings and macaroni collages and send them in the mail. I also encourage the kids to write a letter to go along with the art. My parents then proudly post them up, giving the art a second showing and I get a clean gallery for the next arts and crafts installation.
  5. Make Photo Books for Grandparents At the end of every year I take my best 100 photos and make one album. There are plenty of options out there like Blurb, iPhoto Books and Shutterfly. I them keep it on the coffee table like a yearbook and print an extra one for my mother.

Nothing beats a snuggle with Nana and Poppy but we've found ways to stay together across the miles. So that when we do visit, the connection is just a matter of picking up where we left off.

Debbie Hynes is a full-time working mom. When she can steal time, Debbie likes to run, row and write in the margins. Born in Newfoundland, she now lives in Montreal with her husband and three wunderkins. You can follow her on Twitter @debbiehynes01.


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