‘The joys I’ve found in being a long-distance grandma’

May 01, 2020
You can still play and active role in the lives of your grandchildren even if there is distance between you. Source: Getty Images

It was Easter time once more! Time for Grandma to dress up and sing ‘Peter Cottontail’. I sing personalised lyrics and send the video to my grandchildren. Yes, I am a long-distance grandmother, with a son and family living in the United States, and a daughter and family living in another state of Australia.

It is ironic that while coronavirus continues, many grandparents are staying in their homes and so missing out on their usual hugs and kisses this Easter for their own safety and the safety of all.

I do not choose to have a distant relationship with my grandchildren just because I live far away from them. I accepted long ago that I would have a different way of bonding with my grandchildren and ways of showing my love for them.

There is no doubt that it can bring about feelings of sadness and it can be difficult knowing that I cannot be there for different events and celebrations happening in their lives. I accept that life isn’t going to change in the near future. They cannot move here and we cannot move there, so I enjoy thinking of fun child-like ways to keep in touch and stay interested in the lives of my grandchildren.

This shows them that I have an endless supply of love even though I cannot be there with them, whatever the occasion. At the same time I provide them with memorable keepsakes in all I do.

We are so lucky to live in a time of technology. I write emails to my 10-year-old granddaughter who has her own email address and she writes back. It is just a different way to write a letter and post it, except I just type it and click ‘Send’!

I used to make recordable books — reading a story or singing nursery rhymes to the child. Now, I spend more time downloading photos to create many photo books.

There were times Grandma and Grandpa visited their homes or times their families visited our home; story books with photos of places we visited, for example, Coffs Harbour butterfly farm, but with a personalised story: The Day Grandpa Got His Wish — a story where Grandpa turned into a butterfly and then changed back.

Another was a rhyming book about Grandma and Grandpa out in the canoe on the river and all the things we saw. I also made a book the children containing photos of them as babies called Who is This Baby? where they guess who the baby is and then turn the page to see how different they now look. Our children and grandchildren just love receiving the books and we get wonderful feedback.

The children prefer when I make little gifts rather than buying them, such as knitting simple teddies and bunnies or simple sewing projects that bring as much pleasure to me as it does for my grandchildren. There are many ideas and simple patterns to be found online.

I love dressing up and making singing videos for my grandchildren. It’s all a bit of fun at Christmas, Easter and birthdays that bring about laughter and certainly makes me feel part of those events where I cannot be physically present.

At a time when none of us knows how long social distancing will be in place affecting our everyday lives, I suggest to other grandparents — do not be sad, be innovative, embrace your skills and talents to find the joy in being a long-distance grandparent just like me!

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Are you a long-distance grandparent? What is the experience like for you?

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