Being a Long Distance Grandparent: How to Navigate It

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There was a survey that AARP conducted in 2019 about families and distance and do you know what that survey revealed? It revealed that at least half of families in America deal with distances of 200 miles or more between grandparents and a grandchild. That means long distance is quite the norm with kids starting lives in other areas and then grandchildren coming into the picture. Being long-distance when it comes to the ones you love can be tough to deal with at times but it doesn’t have to alter the relationship you have with your family and that includes your grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
If you’re a long-distance grandparent, there are a few things you need to know to make the most of your relationship with your grandkids. From staying up-to-date on their lives to making sure they stay connected with you, here are some tips for being a successful long-distance grandparent and how to have fun while you do it.

How Is Grandparenting Changing With Distance?

Over a period of a year, there were at least 145,600 retirees that moved to Florida. While Florida has become an epicenter for retired seniors or just those looking for a long-term, relaxing escape, seniors in Florida often wonder how they can continue to be an involved grandparent or great grandparent. Here’s something you should consider. Many grandparents have great relationships with their grands even while being far away. In today’s age, we can’t say that it’s difficult to see the ones we love when we want with technology being so advanced. Now, we can see our family’s faces with the click of a button.
While this is absolutely different from being able to hold the kids in your arms or give out hugs to those that we care about, long distances are providing seniors in Florida with various opportunities. You might be wondering what some of those opportunities are and they have to do with making memories, starting new traditions, and trying new things. When you’re close in proximity you can often default to regular activities or visits. In comparison to being 200 miles or more away from your grandkids, this might force you to really think outside of the box. Grandparenting isn’t necessarily changing when distance is involved, it’s evolving and adjusting to the new norm.

How You Should Start Your Remote Grandparenting Journey

If you’re new to grandparenting at a distance, not to worry, there are some simple steps that you can take to ensure you’ll conquer the journey. The first thing you should do is to make sure you’re slightly versed in using the best communication tools. There are simple, free, and easy-to-navigate tools that you can download from almost any smart device. If you think this will be a learning curve, think again, there are services like South Florida Tech For Seniors and even free online resources that you can use to get your foot in the door when it comes to learning how to Facetime, play interactive games with family, or even doing watch parties.
What’s even better is that this could be the perfect time to have one of your grandchildren teach you how to operate these things. This could be a bonding experience and your grandchild will know that they are preparing you to grow with them and keep up with them, no matter where they are. 

Some Useful Tactics

To start grandparenting from afar off on the right foot you need to make sure that you’re staying up-to-date on your grandkids’ lives. It can be easy to feel out of the loop when you’re not seeing them all the time but there are ways to stay in touch and know what’s going on. If they are old enough, have them send you regular updates via text or email. A group text with just your grands could be fun and useful. You can even set up a joint calendar where they can add events and you can see what’s coming up in their life. If they’re too young for that, ask their parents to send you pictures and updates regularly.
If they play sports, make it a fun thing to FaceTime them before their game and give them the pep talk and much-needed support only a grandparent can give. Speaking of video calls, you can also schedule FaceTime or Skype calls regularly so you can actually see your grandkids and talk to them. Scheduling this on the same day could give them something fun to look forward to especially if you plan a fun activity during the video call. Keep in mind though that children get older so being flexible with those weekly calls can be a good thing so that you can easily adjust as they do. This just means to keep in mind that the life of a 7-year-old will be different from that of a 17-year old so don’t be afraid to adjust with your grandkids’ ages so that you can get the most out of them during your time together.

Connection Is Important

Another important tip for being a long-distance grandparent is to make sure your grandkids feel connected to you. Just because you’re not in the same city doesn’t mean you can’t do things together. There are plenty of activities that can be done long distance. You can watch the same movie and then discuss it afterward, play games together online, or even start a book club where you read the same book and discuss it over video chat. If you have specific talents or skills, you can even teach your grandchildren something new.
For example, if you’re a knitter, you could knit them a blanket and send it to them and give them lessons over a Skype call. You could even add to that same blanket every year by having them help you. Or if you’re a baker, you could send them some of your homemade cookies or brownies, if you’re into baking. This is something they’ll love, look forward to, and be able to associate with future memories. These are just some examples but the possibilities don’t stop there.

Get Creative

Overall, one of the most important things to remember when you’re a long-distance grandparent is to have fun. Being in the same place has nothing to do with the fun you can have together. Don’t be afraid to get creative and come up with fun ideas that will make your grandchildren smile. You can even ignite their excitement for your next in-person visit by having them plan out their entire stay. In the meantime though, you could put together care packages with their favorite snacks and goodies, send them personalized cards and letters, or even plan a trip to visit them (if possible).
Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that you and your grandkids will enjoy. Doing some of these things will help create positive memories for both of you and make grandparenting at a distance simpler than you could’ve imagined.