Worried your baby or toddler won’t remember their grandparents? Here are five creative ways to keep up contact with long-distance relatives
I am a mum to two young boys; James is nearly 3 years old and Rory is 10 months old. As we approached circuit breaker, our children’s grandparents in the UK had to cancel a planned visit, and our trip to the UK was also cancelled. We are used to seeing our family regularly so I wanted to make a concerted effort to keep our family engaged with the boys especially with the unknown timeline ahead of when we will be reunited.
During the circuit breaker, given we were all at home across the world, it made for a good time to think a little more creatively about how we could stay in touch. The boys ages and the time difference didn’t always make it that easy, so here are some tips that I found worked for us.
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You can ask grandparents to email letters to you for the children (given that international post takes so long at the moment!) and then you can handwrite the letter and post in into their box. My 2.5 year old son loves waking up to a new letter once a week and we then put all the letters on the wall of his bedroom. Daddy was the postman, too. To introduce the concept of posting letters we watched Postman Pat and read Postman Bear by Julia Donaldson
How to make the postbox: It is very simple, so you don’t have to be very artsy or have lots of stuff:
- Get a cardboard box. Any size will do, from a shoebox if you have a small space to a standing big box.
- Cut a rectangular hole for the post to go in towards the top.
- Colour in/paint and decorate the box. You can also make a small flap at the bottom to get the post out.
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Speak to grandparents at the best time for your kids — in our house, my kids’ UK-based grandparents have stayed up till midnight in the UK so it’s 7am here once every 2 weeks and the conversations have always been great. This of course isn’t always possible so we chose bathtime and before stories for a quick non-distracted chat.
We make the calls no more than 10 minutes with kids, and if the kids are not in the mood, we wait, but we try to keep the contact nice and regular so that it feels very normal for young kids. We aim for a quick chat every two days. We try and chat about what they are playing with or what they did that day. But rest assured they aren’t always perfect moments and grandparents understand that. We had to “turn GaGa off” yesterday!
Our children’s grandparents sometimes read them a bedtime story over video chat. We emailed the pictures of the pages of our kids’ favourite books (or you can get grandparents to buy them). If the kids love the book, they will love having it read by their grandparents. Note that with new books, we found when they were younger, they weren’t as interested in listening.
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Our children’s grandparents send the boys silly videos, things like: their dog catching a ball, one of them dancing to one of the children’s favourite songs, reading a short story, or of them eating ice-cream. Our boys loved this as a way to connect. During advent before Christmas, they sent a video of them opening a little present/sweet for the boys each day and they put a Christmas hat on. They then gave the gifts to the children when we next saw them.
We also add a photo and video a day to a private photo sharing app that all the family can access, so it’s not overwhelming but keeps the contact nice and regular and it’s a great thing to look back at, we’ve stored a photo from every day of the year.
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