How to deal with being a long distance grandparent

Being a long way from your grandchildren is never going to be easy, and it can be very expensive to constantly be close. Luckily, technology has come a long way in making those distances not so distant as one Grandmother shared with us.

When asked what the simplest piece of advice to give, the grandmother of four said, “Such a simple thing but the minute you take your family for granted is the minute they pull away. I loved having my daughter and sons closer when they were in their 20s, but life took them on another path. I couldn’t hold them back, and sometimes I think back to the arguments we had over them lying on the couch too much, but now I wish it happened more! When they visit, you couldn’t measure the smile on my face. I accommodate them and even if they make a mess, I just appreciate the time we have and countdown to our next catch-up.”

With so many tools out there for communication such as Facebook Video or Google Hangout, one of the best uses for Skype is to have that evening story with the grandkids or even to check it. Our granny told us, “Skype is a revelation! Many of us active over 60s are loving Skype, but some of my dear friends haven’t yet caught on. I’ll admit I was a bit sceptical when I first logged on but once I realised it really was as simple as clicking on my family member’s picture to start chatting, all I had to do to prepare was do my hair! Any excuse’ll do really… but yes, Skype is fantastic. And I’ve been sending photos over the connection to my granddaughter in London, and she does the same. I love to see her face and hear her voice. I use it on my phone as well when I get a call when I’m out, and it’s made being a long-distance granny quite effortless.”

The greatest bit of advice for being a long distance grandparent was simply, “When you talk to your family as much as I do, you become privy to some interesting information they accidentally blurt out. If there’s one thing I’ve truly learnt from being a long distance granny, is to be more understanding and supportive. Oh, you’ve got a room mate that you don’t know? That’s fantastic, love. You are buying a $30,000 car, and you work part time? If that’s want you want, dear. I can give advice from afar but I’ve learnt to take a step back and try not to interfere too much as it’s gotten me nowhere. Of course if they say “Gran I want to shave my head and move to Peru”, I’m going to be worried, but I think it’s important to be a friend if you want to maintain a long distance relationship.”

Also, play games with the kids online, “My grandson and I versus each other on Words with Friends and it’s a great way to keep in contact without needing to chat too much as I know some younger guys are a bit put off by it. I’m sure he’ll appreciate my fascinating stories in years to come.”

Are you a long-distance grandparent? How far away does your family live? How do you stay in contact? Share your stories below.

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