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Long-Distance Grandparenting

Simple ideas for staying in touch.

Living in the same town or state as your children’s grandparents isn’t always an option. Here are simple ideas for staying in touch — and near in heart.

  1. Take pictures of a typical day in your child’s life — waking up, eating breakfast, getting ready for school, playing, bedtime — and send them to the grandparents.
  2. Ask grandparents to write special notes or cards that you can hide in your child’s backpack for him to discover while he’s at school or at the park.
  3. Put pictures of the grandparents on a low shelf or on furniture that your child can easily see so she can become familiar with their faces. When your child visits, she will recognize Grandma’s and Grandpa’s faces, rather than perceiving them as strangers. Schedule an appointment for a portrait of your child with Grandma and Grandpa — a special treasure for the entire family!
  4. Send cassette tapes to the grandparents, and ask them to record themselves reading your child’s favorite stories. They might even be inspired to include a few stories about you from your childhood. Depending on how merciful and respectful you were to your parents while growing up, this idea may or may not work in your favor.
  5. Ask grandparents to create a photo album that include snapshots of their surroundings: house, yard, pets, car, Grandma in the kitchen, Grandpa working on his favorite hobby, sites near the home. When your child visits them, they will feel “at home” with Grandma and Grandpa.
  6. Send your child’s artwork to her grandparents. Your child’s self-esteem will grow as she hears her grandparents’ praise and sees the display of her artwork as treasured masterpieces.
  7. Ask grandparents to tell or write stories about when they and their children were young. Not only do kids love to hear grandparents talk about the “old days,” but they feel a sense of history and identity when they learn about how their parents and grandparents grew up.
  8. Ask your parents (if they still live in their hometown) to show your child the neighborhoods where they lived, the parks where they played and the schools they attended. End the sightseeing tour with a picnic or a trip to the grandparents’ favorite pizza place. Be sure to take pictures of the outing.
  9. Help your child shop for a small gift for Grandparents Day — the first Sunday after Labor Day. (If your budget is limited, go to your local dollar store.) Pull out the wrapping paper and bows, and help your child wrap the present.
  10. Mail a care package celebrating Grandparents Day, filled with handmade gifts — a video of your child singing, T-shirts with his handprints, big sugar cookies decorated to look like Grandma and Grandpa and a card saying, “I owe you a hug.”
  11. Remind grandparents that their time — not their money — is what your children value most.

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