How Long-Distance Grandparents Can Stay Involved

A smiling, elderly man talking on the phone

It’s tough when your children leave the nest for a faraway land, whether that’s the next state over or across the world. It’s even worse when they take your beautiful, beloved grandchild with them.

Few things hurt the heart as much as being separated from your child’s little one, but don’t despair! You can still have a significant, loving relationship with your grandchild, even from miles away.

Here are eight top tips for grandparents to keep the connection strong despite the distance.

1. Skype (or FaceTime)!

If you have a smartphone, tablet or a modern laptop computer, you probably have the ability to video chat. This is about as close as you can get to a face-to-face interaction with your grandchild. Schedule a time with their parents that works for all parties, then simply make the call.

The great thing about video chatting is that it’s appropriate for kids of all ages. Your grandchild may only be at the babbling stage of communication, but what matters most is that you get to see him or her in real time.

2. Start a text chain

Text messages are better for carrying on lengthy conversations. Because neither party has to respond immediately, you can chat with your grandchild at length about whatever you want, serious or silly. Of course, this method of contact only works if the little one knows how to speak and spell. If your grandchild is too young to type, stick to video chat for now.

3. Be pen pals

This is a great way to engage your grandchild when he or she starts learning to write. Kids love getting mail from anyone, but a letter from a grandparent holds special meaning. Being a pen pal helps you maintain a relationship with your grandchild while helping him or her develop their writing skills. You can write about nearly anything, just as long as you always respond.

A young boy writing on a piece of paper.Be your grandchild’s pen pal and help him or her learn to write.

4. Participate in an activity, then talk about it together

Just because you and your grandchild live far away doesn’t mean you can’t talk about shared experiences. Organize activities where the two of you do the same thing but in different locations. See the same movie, read the same book, go to a local zoo or something similar. Then, call your grandchild on the phone and talk about the experience.

5. Personalize birthday cards

Show your grandchild you care by remembering their birthday each and every time. Go beyond a standard Hallmark card and add a personal element by making your own. Get your crafting on with cardstock, stickers and glitter!

6. Visit when you can

“Nothing soothes the heart quite like a visit in person, so try to see your grandchild at least once a year.”

While the above five suggestions are all great options, nothing soothes the heart quite like a visit in person. If you’re still able to travel, try to get out to see your grandchild at least once a year. If not, ask your family to come visit you. Stock your home with fun toys and treats so your little one is eager to come see you. Kids love seeing grandma and grandpa when snacks and sweets are involved!

7. Focus on your relationship with your grandchildren

It happens – sometimes you think the other set of grandparents gets more attention than you do. This may actually be true, particularly if they live in the same city as your grandchild. Don’t get jealous, and don’t let this detail discourage you. Stay positive and focus on maintaining a healthy, loving relationship with your family. Otherwise, your emotions may seep out on the rare occasions you do get to see your grandchild, which isn’t fun for anybody.

8. Learn to live outside of your grandchildren

Remember, your time raising kids is over, especially if you and your partner are long-distance grandparents. This means it’s OK to have a life outside of your grandchildren. In fact, it’s healthy to do so!

Even if your grandkids lived nearby, they’ll eventually grow up and spend less time with you. As such, it’s important to have local friends and hobbies outside of them. If you don’t know where to start, head to a local recreation center or search online for meet-ups about activities that you enjoy.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it also puts a strain on your relationship with your grandchild.

Use these eight tips for grandparents to keep the bond going strong and stay connected with your little one. You may not be able to see your family every day, but they’ll certainly love you just as much.