15 Ways to Be Awesome
Long Distance Grandparents
Have you ever wondered how some of these grandparents do it? I mean, their grandchildren talk about what awesome long distance grandparents they have! Well, I wanted to be like that too. It’s sad but true that we’re not totally awesome as long distance grandparents. . .yet, but we’re working on it. Yeah, Papa’s working on this one too!
“Being long distance grandparents is a bit more work and does take some planning, but it’s worth it to have a good relationship with the grandchildren you don’t get to see all the time.”
Just because you live far away from your grandkids doesn’t mean that you can’t do things with them. We live in a fabulous world of technology where interacting with those Littles that live too far to just drive over can be a breeze! If you want to spend the afternoon with them. . .Do it!
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Here are 15 of our best activities that we like to do (or would like to try) as long distance grandparents:
#1 – Become Penpals
Participate in two-way activities like becoming penpals, sending a continuous story back and forth, journaling, or just a series of questions you answer. My granddaughter and I were having so much fun being penpals that her younger brothers wanted to get in on the fun. They started sending me pictures with a few words on them. It was so awesome!!
#2 – Include Them Anyway You Can
We try to include our long-distance Littles in some of the big activities that we do with our local grandkids. One way is to Skype or Facetime during the activity so that they can chat with us and the cousins. Another thing we do is send invitations to the ones far away even though we know they can’t make it. It’s always fun to be invited. We also send little party favors or momentos from the party or activity that we had.
#3 – Watch TV “Together”
You can watch a TV show “together” and then talk about it. That opens the door to share some excitement for upcoming episodes. . .more reasons to talk to each other! (This one will be a bit more exciting to me when they learn to like something other than PJ Masks or Japanese anime.
#4 – Play Puzzles & Word Games
Our little crew loves puzzles and word games. One of our favorite things is MadLibs. I have found a couple of places online that we can create MadLibs for each other. As long distance grandparents, we can play just like we do with the Littles that are close by. We ask for certain types of words and then read the silly story to them. Then we change roles. My granddaughter from Texas loves to draw. I think the next time we play, I will ask her to send me a picture of the silly story we did together. I love to get mail from them as much as they love to get mail from me!
#5 – Read to Each Other
You can read to each other. They can be picture books if you are on a video chat of some kind. Or you can read chapter books together. That gives you a reason to talk to each other often as you will both probably be excited to read the next chapter. This is our favorite book series – Kingdom Keepers. (If you’re Disney fans, you will LOVE this series. It’s a fictional series set in the Disney parks. Check it out and see for yourself!)
#6 – Play the Story Game
The Story Game is where you start a story with 3-5 words. Then, your grandchild needs to continue the story with just 3-5 words. Then you continue the story with the next 3-5 words. This game can get hilarious when your grandchildren run it completely off the rails in a direction that you just didn’t anticipate. . .especially with the little ones!
#7 – Play the Rhythm Game
Play the rhythm game on a video chat. That’s where you choose a “4-beat” (ie. Slap your thighs, clap, snap with the right hand, and then snap with the left hand. Then repeat the pattern to the “beat” while you play the game). Then you have to name objects in alphabetical order according to the subject you choose. For instance, say you choose to go on an imaginary picnic. The first person might say, “We’re going on a picnic. I’m going to bring apples.” (Say this in a 4-beat rhythm.) The second person has to build on that by saying, “We’re going on a picnic. I’m going to bring apples, bananas. The next person has to build on that by saying, “We’re going on a picnic. I’m going to bring apples, bananas, cake, and so on. You are “out” if you break the rhythm or miss one of the items in the list.
#8 – Cook & Eat a Meal Together
Have you ever thought of cooking and eating a meal together online? My daughter-in-law does this with her mother. They will agree ahead of time what they are cooking and get all the ingredients needed to make the meal. At the designated day and time, they gather on Skype. They each fix the meal and talk while they do so. Just because you are long distance grandparents doesn’t mean that you can’t have a meal together!This is a great way for parents or grandparents hand down family recipes to those who don’t live close.After the meal is fixed, the family sits down to dinner and prays together. The meal then consists of eating and chatting just as if they were all in the same room. What a great tradition this has become for their family! At my house, the kitchen is the congregation area. We do so much bonding there. . .sometimes a little too much. . .if you know what I mean! 😉
#9 – Do Jigsaw Puzzles Online
Did you know you can do jigsaw puzzles together online? You can invite groups of people to join and do the puzzle. I haven’t tried this yet, but it sounds like something our little family would absolutely LOVE!!
#10 – Use the Marco Polo App
Send quick video messages when time zones are just too far apart. You can do this through the Marco Polo app – It’s FREE! If you aren’t familiar with the app, it bills itself as the “video walkie talkie.” You can save the videos so that you can have an ongoing video conversation. Try it out! It’s awesome for long distance grandparents! It’s new for us, but so far, we love it!
#11 – Send Secret Messages
Send secret messages through the mail for your grandchildren to decode. This will make you the best long distance grandparents of any fourth grader in their school. Check out the suggestions from Kate at Picklebums.com.
#12 – Share Your Personal History
Share your personal history with your grandchildren one story at a time. This will be invaluable someday. As a matter of fact, it might be fun to put these stories into a video and put it on a private YouTube channel or burn onto a CD that you can share with your family.
#13 – Record a Story
Make a recording (video or just voice) of you reading a story to the kids. Make sure you “do the voices” for the characters. I got one of those “Record-a-story” books with a Christmas theme, and Papa and I read and recorded the story. We sent it to our Texas Littles. Their mom told us that for many, many weeks, it was the favorite bedtime story. The kids requested it every night, because it was Nana and Papa reading to them. . . even though it was after Christmas.
#14 – Plant Something Together
Send your grandkids a small planting set – pot, seeds, soil, maybe some small tools, watering can, gloves, etc. You keep some of the same seeds. When they get the package, plan a time to video chat and plant the seeds while they do the same. Every week compare your plant’s growth and see how they are doing.
#15 – Send “Open When” Letters
You can send your grandkids “open when” letters. Mark some milestones during the coming weeks or months and write a letter to your grandchild for each of those times. Send them all at once and have a specific open date (and/or time). You can call them after they open each letter and tell them how much you love them.
That should get you thinking about connecting across the miles and building a closer relationship with your long distance grandchildren. Being long distance grandparents is a bit more work and does take some planning, but it’s worth it to have a good relationship with those sweet Littles that you don’t get to see all the time.
I would love to hear what kinds of things you do as long distance grandparents, because I would like to be better at this. Please let me know in the comments below.
Cookies & Milk for Everyone!
P.S. If you are looking for more ways to connect with your grandkids near or far, you can download our free 100+ Activities to Do with Grandkids.