connecting with grandkids LONG DISTANCE

We've lived in another state than our parents for five years now. When we moved away, we had two kids, and it was hard on all of us. We were very close to both of our families and did things together all the time, so moving away and not seeing them often was a challenging adjustment on both sides.

Now we have two more kids and Arizona feels more like home. Our kids and their grandparents have managed to maintain and build relationships despite living far away from each other. Over the years we have picked up on a few tricks and practices that have kept those relationships strong. All of my kids adore each of their grandparents! We only see each other a few times a year, so we've found other ways to connect and keep things fun for the kids.

Below are three fun and simple ways to stay connected to grandkids that live far away. Read to the end for a bonus tip!

read a book together via facetime

This is great for younger kids. Toddlers won't have a conversation on the phone, so reading a picture book to them will keep them engaged with you and your voice. Reading age kids love it just as much. Let them cozy up somewhere with a blanket and listen. My girls did this a few months ago, and they always had the hardest time saying goodbye when it was time!

If your grandkids are older, ask about what books they are reading or what kinds of topics they're interested in, and maybe you can find something to read or learn together and follow up over text.

send printed photos to your grandkids

Grandparents love receiving printed photos of their family to enjoy and display in their home. Photo prints of the kids are a common gift for grandma and grandpa for every occasion. But it's also fun for kids to have printed family photos, too!

Children LOVE to get things in the mail. Send them a card stuffed with a couple of your favorite pictures together. Or next time you send a package for holiday or birthday gifts, include a photo with a note on the back about a special memory. Kids love this stuff! And it will make your relationship so much stronger even when you can't see each other very often.

The past couple summers, my girls have done a mini photo shoot with my parents in the yard before we leave. We have the photos printed and placed in an album that they love to look through. We can see photos on our phones anytime, but it's so important for younger kids to have physical copies to remind them of their grandma's and grandpa's and those special relationships.

Teenagers too! Slip a photo into their birthday card with the cash. That little extra picture with say a lot about how much you care about them.

make sure to get pictures together

When you ARE together, schedule a photo shoot! It can be the whole family or just you and a couple grands. Bake cookies, go to the park, or just get some photos on the front porch. You will love having these images, and then you will have beautiful photos to send to them, and a fun experience to remember together.

make plans for the next time you're together

Think ahead to when you'll be together again, and how you can make the most of it. Talk about it together and come up with a plan! Maybe you want to go to a show or a museum, paint nails, or make model airplanes. Having a plan will get both of you excited and keep you connected while anticipating the visit.

One of my favorite children's books is "How to Babysit a Grandma." My mother in law gave it to my kids a few years ago but used a label maker to change "grandma" to "Gammie" on the front cover. It was a clever way of customizing the book and reminding her grandkids that she loved doing those things with them. Things like playing shoe shop, making shadow puppets, playing dress-up, and so many other cute activities. Not only is this book a great gift idea for little ones, it's full of activity ideas too!

lists and countdowns

Whenever we have grandparents coming to town, my girls love to make countdown chains. It's a simple way for them to get excited and recognize that grandparents coming to visit is something exciting! We also love to make lists of things to do. Before they could write, we would draw pictures. This included things like build a fort, go for bike rides, read books, go to the library, and watch movies and pop popcorn. This is just a start. There are so many wonderful things we can do together.

bonus: share your talents and interests with your grandkids

Most of the ideas listed above are things that most people will enjoy. What other things can you do with your grandkids that is unique to you and them? What hobbies and interests do you have that they might enjoy learning more about or doing with you? Consider what you can share with them that you can both enjoy doing together. Kids love learning, and you'll feel more connected with them as you find ways to teach them more about what you love. And thanks to technology, we don't always have to wait until we're together to do it!

be creative, and stay connected with your grandkids

Living far away from each other can be hard. We miss out on so much and it's easy to miss the little things that kids have going on in their lives. But with technology and some creativity, we really can stay connected! And it's so important that we do. To keep relationships strong with your grandkids who live far away, try reading to them through FaceTime or texting about common interests, send them printed photos of you together, make plans for the next time you're together, and share your talents and interests with them.

Those are just a few simple and fun ways to keep in touch when grandchildren live long distance. Be creative, and stay connected!