Tips on Staying In Touch
By Loma G. Davies Silcott
In today's mobile society, few of us are fortunate enough to have all, or even some, of our grandchildren living within easy driving distance. However, you can reach out across the miles to your faraway grandchildren by using some of these ideas. Most of them can be adapted for use on holidays and other special occasions.
About the author: Loma G. Davies Silcott of Rapid City, SD, has authored more than 600 articles. Her book, The Nuts & Bolts Writer's Manual is now in its second printing.
- Telephone calls are great fun any time of year. If you can arrange to make some of the calls shortly after special events your grandchildren have participated in, e.g. a program at school or church, you will be able to share the excitement. Ask them to videotape the event and send you a copy.
- You and your spouse can take turns videotaping each other reading stories and then send them to your grandchildren. If possible, have someone videotape the two of you sending greetings, especially on birthdays or other special occasions. If you don't own a camcorder, you can rent one or use a cassette recorder instead. Include a greeting and a short explanation of why the story is special.
If you need some idea starters or stories to record, check your local bookstore or library for ideas. For example, Jenelle and Kenneth Koftan have written an age-phased series called Long-Distance Grandparenting that can be helpful.
- Take pictures of you and your spouse engaging in various activities and send them to your grandchildren.
- Write letters as often as possible and include interesting newspaper and magazine clippings and cartoons. Use commemorative stamps on the envelopes-you just might spark an interest in stamp collecting.
- Create memories by making holiday decorations and/or gifts for each of your grandchildren. Craft stores have kits and supplies for almost any project.
- Periodically, bake and send them cookies or other treats. If possible, use some old family recipes. These have a special meaning for everyone. Make some decorated cut-out ones. Package them securely (dry, unsalted popcorn makes good food packing) and mail to your grandchildren. Enclose a note telling the history of any special family recipes.
- Knit or crochet an heirloom. These will be extra special if you are able to use some yarn from an old sweater or baby afghan of their parents.
- Or, if you enjoy sewing, create an heirloom quilt for each grandchild. If possible, cut some of the blocks from material you once used to make them-or their parents-clothes.
- Are you handy with wood? Create a birdhouse, toy, or other item. Mark it with the child's name, your name, and the date given.
- For a faraway grandchild's birthday, buy party hats, favors, balloons, et cetera, and send them to the grandchild to use at his/her party.
- Give your grandchildren mementos from your or their parent's childhood. Maybe it's a memory of a special Christmas past or a favorite ornament or decoration. Or it might be a long-forgotten favorite toy or book.
- Have your old 8-mm home movies transferred to videotape and give each grandchild a copy. They will enjoy watching their parents growing up.
- A scrapbook of pictures from your and/or their parents' past will give your grandchildren a sense of life in the "good old days." Many photo developers will make prints from another print, so even if you no longer have the negatives, you can easily have copies made for everyone.
- Write a short-or long, if you have time-family history. You might include funny stories about their parents or tell of the dangers earlier generations faced. Include special memories and traditions your family shared.
- Depending on your grandchildren's ages, you might give them a bit of family history. Frame an old map, the deed to the family homestead, a special letter, or a square of needlepoint or embroidery made by a great-grandmother.
- Create a video family history using old slides and pictures. Narrate it or just set it to music.
- Make up a quiz about their parents and/or grandparents. It can be a fun way for them to learn more about them and you.
- Watch a television program together-even though you are in different cities. For example, at Christmas, plan to watch a favorite holiday movie, e.g. White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, or The Christmas Carol. Share your thoughts in letters or telephone calls.
- "Adopt" some children in your area whose grandparents live far away. Be stand-in grandparents for them especially at special times like birthdays and holidays. This can make you feel closer to your own grandchildren and give you insights into what children today are thinking and doing. This also can ease some of the loneliness of being separated from your grandchildren and make some other children's holiday a little brighter.
- Have a prearranged time on New Year's Eve for you and your children and grandchildren to each light a candle and make a special wish for the coming year.
- On various holidays and their birthdays, tape a special message for each grandchild. Share your plans and holiday preparations. For an added festive touch, play holiday music in the background as you record your message.
- If you know the kind of music your grandchildren enjoy, you could tape some music from a radio station in your area that plays that type of music. If the station does dedications, ask to have a song dedicated to your grandchildren and record it.
- Send older grandchildren a book of blank pages. Ask them to use it as a journal to create their own memories.
- Play checkers or chess by mail.
- Of course, visits should be planned as often as possible. Visit them or send them travel money so they can visit you.
Using these ideas can help bring you closer to your grandchildren, even when hundreds or thousands of miles separate you physically. Happy Grandparenting.