If you have followed along with me for long, you have heard me mention that hubby and I are transplants to our area, and we are traveling through our parenting journey without any family support in town. While most of our relatives live within a driveable distance, they are just far enough away from us that we do not get to spend nearly as much time with them as we would like.
However, from the start, we have been committed to being intentional about our kids staying in touch with their relatives (especially their grandparents!), and in this post I want to share a few of our favorite ideas for how to stay connected with out-of-town grandparents.
Photo Album – On each child’s first birthday, I gift them with a soft and safe baby photo album, and inside, I include photos of them with each of their closest loved ones: parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. We use photo books as a way to connect our kids with their family, and they serve as the perfect tool for teaching our little ones the names and faces of their relatives – especially their out of town grandparents.
Call Often – From the time our little ones are born, we want them to be able to recognize the voices of their loved ones, so we call our family as often as we can. It is now fun to see our older kids taking the initiative to call their relatives. They like to tell them about their day and ask them all about what they’re doing at their house. Such a great way to encourage verbal communication skills and phone etiquette – both of which seem to be a lost art these days.
In recent days, my oldest has been calling everyone in my contact list so he can tell them his newest Knock-Knock Jokes. Be prepared. You may be the next person he calls. ha!
Share Photos – When something adorable (or crazy) is happening around here, texting a little blurb or sending out a picture of the moment is a perfect way to keep grandparents in the loop. While at home with little ones, it’s nice for me to be able to reach out to family in this way, and I know they enjoy hearing from us…well, except for when I’m sobbing and sending an all-caps text message to my mother that I need her stat because one of my children has been caught writing on the wall…with a marker…again.
Social Media – Originally, I began blogging as a way to stay in touch with our out-of-town family and friends. While over time, my blog has developed beyond that, it still serves as an awesome way to share photos, happenings, thoughts/musings, etc. from our house. In addition to the blog, what could be better for sharing life than Facebook & Instagram? My favs! While social media most definitely can not compete with time spent in person with loved ones, it can be a helpful tool to staying connected.
Video Chat – Our kids are always excited to do a video chat with their grandparents! As they learn new things – like their ABCs, a counting song, The Pledge of Allegiance, a new Bible verse, etc. – they love sharing them with their grandparents. It has been so special to watch them be able to celebrate their accomplishments with those that mean the most to them.
If you have a relative(s) who is uncomfortable with technology, introduce them to the ins & outs – set up simple ways for them to access the various forms of social media, etc. Encourage them to take courses at the library that will help them keep up with fast-growing technology. Many grandparents are going to be interested enough in what their children/grandchildren are doing that they will be willing to make an extra effort in this area.
Send Snail Mail: While technology is fantastic (for so many reasons!), sending snail mail is fun, too. I usually allow my kids gather/prepare what we’re going to send, and then they decorate the envelope/packaging. I let them use markers, stickers, anything they choose – as long as the address and postage areas remain clear for the postal employees to see. My kids like to include art work, school activity pages, little mementos they have found with their loved ones in mind. Our favorite thing to ship is thumbprints/handprints, and whenever I send a hand-made creation of any kind, I like to include the child’s name/age/date/etc.
Just a heads up – in case you were wondering – It is not cheap to mail portions of a little boy’s spring rock collection. I had to draw the line on that one. Shipping fall leaves is much cheaper. ha!
P.S. We make a big deal about driving to the post office and actually mailing these special packages. Sometimes we use our mailbox and talk about what it means when you put the flag up, etc. but usually, my kiddos prefer an outing to the post office, and if you want a little picture-book inspiration to go along with this activity, you’ve got to get your hands on The Giant Hug – I’m not sure it could be any sweeter:
Other Grandparent-Themed Picture Books
What fun ideas do you have for staying connected with out-of-town grandparents?
Any creative suggestions you would add to this list?