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Grandparenting

Tips for dealing with distance?

(37 Posts)
TonyDel Fri 21-Sep-18 04:54:47

We have two young GC (2 & 4) that we only get to see once or twice a year. We try to Skype once a week but find that difficult--the two kids often want to play or find it funny to hang up. Even with weekly Skype, each visit starts as if we are strangers (they warm up after a day).
Any suggestions on how to deal with the distance? Or ways we can get to know each other over the distance?

Willow500 Fri 21-Sep-18 06:38:57

I have 2 young grandchildren of similar ages in NZ so have only seen them twice. Skype or FaceTime is pretty difficult due to the time difference, their parents work schedules etc and when we do manage to get together the kids only want to spend a couple of minutes being interested in us before they are off doing their own thing. I don't think we are alone in this as other long distance grandparents have said the same. You could try sending them books and having a copy yourself so you can read to them but they probably won't want to sit still long enough. As they get older they will hopefully become more interested in talking to you and telling you what they've been doing. You do manage to see them a couple of times to spend time with them which will help develop a bond.

Don't despair - long distance grand parenting is hard but they're still very young.

Diana54 Fri 21-Sep-18 06:49:18

As a grandparent you could move to NZ, the migration rules are fairly generous to family uniting. Two older couples I know moved down under recently where their children settled.

notnecessarilywiser Fri 21-Sep-18 08:38:26

I quite understand what you're saying about unsatisfactory Skype calls, Tony. For little kids, being rounded up to talk to Granny can be inconvenient in their busy, active lives! I find that if they have something to show me (a picture they've made, a new item of clothing, a gap where a tooth used to be) they're more keen to chat. Similarly, I try to have something for them to inspect during the call - they seem to be more excited to see my cat than they are to see me! And they love me to tell them news of their older UK-based cousins.

We're so lucky to have Skype, WhatsApp and similar to facilitate contact with our faraway families, but don't underestimate the joy (and novelty value!) that a postcard or unexpected little present send from you will bring them.

Izabella Fri 21-Sep-18 10:02:30

I send postcards from wherever I am, days out, holidays etc. Keeps me on the agenda if nothing else. I try to have educational conversations and encourage them following me on a map

GrandmasueUK Fri 21-Sep-18 11:28:00

I have 2 grandsons aged 1 and 3 living aborad and we Facetime at least once a week. I don't expect them to chat with me all the time, so I talk with DS and DiL whilst I watch the children play. Sometimes the 3 yr old will carry the ipad into the playroom and show me things there. I've sometimes been propped up on the sofa while they go about their lives and include me in conversations which is very funny. It's usually about 6.30, just before they are getting ready for bathtime. They also send little WhatsApp videos as well. They alternate with Christmas here and at home. This year it's my turn to have them - can't wait! Every time it's mentioned the 3 yr old sings Happy Birthday as they were here in summer when it was his birthday and he just associates it with coming here. It's going to be so much fun!

David1968 Fri 21-Sep-18 11:30:22

Our only DGC live on the west coast of the USA. They're now 13 &11 and we've seen them every year of their lives - sometimes twice a year. From the start, we were determined that DGC would know us, and we them, and we have achieved this in a very positive way. This continues to be a regular and ongoing commitment in itself. DH & I both retired "early" and have visited often - making it clear to DS that were spending his inheritance! (DiL and DS have always been positive and encouraging about our visits - we know that we're very fortunate in this regard. Even then, it's not always easy, and it requires a lot of patience to be staying in your childs home! Though we never stay with them for the whole trip.) We do Skype - earlier Skyping, when they were younger, was always supported by their parents, so that they learned how to Skype "properly". I advise sending letters, cards, postcards and parcels, (children love to receive items by post) as well as regular emails/photos. Also phone calls can sometimes be better than a Skype. Like all relationships, long distance grandparenting requires work - but it's very worthwhile. Good luck!

EmilyHarburn Fri 21-Sep-18 11:35:00

You can send videos on Skype and Wats app. though this is not a conversation it might help if you send them when you are free but not able to make contact.

JackyB Fri 21-Sep-18 11:37:35

We are in exactly the same situation. Now the DGD are 3 and 4 it is slowly getting better so we just need to exercise some patience. One idea would be to take little videos and send them. The parents can then catch the kids when they are in a good mood or just film them playing. And then they can sit them down say at bedtime and play them the video of Granny reading a story or talking to them and showing them things.

NotSpaghetti Fri 21-Sep-18 11:49:44

Hi,
I think we have discussed Skype before at some length - just check the other forum topics TonyDel.
Many of us seemed to prefer WhatsApp to Skype (though it doesn't have to be an either/or situation) - I certainly do.

I suggest you try it. My toddler-sized (and older) grandchildren actually are allowed to "call me" on it if they fancy and often show me what they are doing.
I have recently got to see frogs, someone jumping, a sandcastle and a video of a big splashy puddle.
I think they feel at least "connected" and it's lovely to have these snippets of real life.

Saggi Fri 21-Sep-18 12:02:28

So sorry for all that have long distance relationships with their GKids. Let alone their children! I thank goodness every day that mine have remained local ...and I am made use of over and over again. I don't drive and yesterday managed to fit 11 miles of walking into the routines of walking to their house 3.5 miles...getting them ready for school...taking the youngest to school ,another 1/2 mile and back to their house. Shoving a load of washing into machine. Going home( 3.5 miles) and doing some housework/ gardening ...getting lunch for laziest husband ever to walk this planet.... going back to daughters ( by bus this time) then walking the last mile to their house as no bus! Shove another load of washing in and fetch youngest from school.... wait for eldest to get home and cook their tea. First parent hom and I make the tournament journey. I do it all three times a week. I've dropped a stone and half in weight...and come off all but o e load of medication di to improved health. All those doctors are right....we all just need more exercise. Thank goodness for my grandkids and their overworked parents!

Saggi Fri 21-Sep-18 12:04:06

That's 'return' journey grin

SueDonim Fri 21-Sep-18 13:09:21

I'm also a long-distance grandparent and as others say, find Skype a bit of a pain. Face Time works better for us.

My son isn't very good at this form of communication and I feel I know his ceilings better than he does, as I'm always being plonked onto tables and left to stare at his cobwebs! grin

The GC have always been familiar with us, despite the distance. One of my fondest memories is of going to California to visit them. We walked in the door after the long trip and my GS, who was about 6yo, looked up and casually said 'Hi nana. Look, I'm building a car with my Lego!' as though I'd seen him just the day before, instead of a year. smile

Happysexagenarian Fri 21-Sep-18 13:45:04

We too are long distance GPs and only see five of our seven GC a few times a year. But in between times we send texts, occasionally phone, and one GD and I regularly exchange short letters, postcards and small gifts. Children love to receive small surprise packages just for them. I make gift tags with our photos on them, or enclose snaps of things we've been doing as an extra interest. When they come to visit they are clearly thrilled to see us and there is no shyness or awkwardness. We have tried Skype but it 'crashes' frequently (maybe due to our rural location) which is frustrating. I don't use social media (closed my FB account), I often found it to be rather anti-social, so I prefer the traditional methods of contact.

evianers Fri 21-Sep-18 13:52:00

We live in France [obviously]! and our children and DGC in Hertfordshire. But where would we be without Skype? We all love to chat each and every Sunday and the girlies tell us what they have been doing, what achievements they have notched up that week, {Form Captain and Vice Form Captain as well as member of the school Swimming Team}. Could not be without it, as we do not have a Smart' phone so know nothing of these new-fangled WhatsApp facilities. We are grateful for small mercies

ChaosIncorporated Fri 21-Sep-18 14:01:41

I am sure the distance is a sadness, but please try not to despair.
My ILs lived 5000 miles away and, like you, only saw us once or twice a year....in the days before Skype and phone calls of any length were prohibitively expensive.

DDs adored them! far more than UK based family who they saw far more frequently. As adults, Grandma was the single most important person that DD2 wanted at her wedding (sadly Grandpa did not live to see that special day)

I agree that, when young, the first few hours of a visit was a time of renewal, and understanding changes, but it soon moved on.
What mattered was the sheer level of ficus on my girls that was offered by these amazing "grands". They spent so much time just interacting and saved adult catching up for the evenings.

When the girls reached their last year in primary school, each flew out for one special holiday on their own with the ILs and had magical experiences, including swimming with dolphins.

Real closeness can be achieved. Truly!

ChaosIncorporated Fri 21-Sep-18 14:03:15

*ficus !?!? focus

willa45 Fri 21-Sep-18 14:09:40

Few words:

Skype, iPhones, SkyMiles, Care packages and Amazon!

4allweknow Fri 21-Sep-18 14:38:25

Skyping doesn't seem to appeal to the very young for more than about 30 seconds. I have sent small gifts to GS e.g. books, a funny hat, photo of his cousin doing something interesting. The gift that seemed to create the biggest reaction was a tiny box of dinosaur teeth, bought from Nat Trust shop. I look for unusual bits of stuff just to keep him interested in speaking on phone or Skype albeit for only a very short time.

DIL17 Fri 21-Sep-18 15:15:56

At 2 & 4 their attention span for something like Skype isn't going to be great but the fact you do it is good as the older they get, the more they will remember you from it and visits will seem less strange.

Could it be worth doing one large, long term visit rather than two small ones? More time for bonding.

Minerva Fri 21-Sep-18 15:16:33

I visited a lot when they were little but now have to rely on them coming over here, much less frequently in view of the cost. But in no time at all the GCs are old enough to have proper conversations on Skype or FB and naughty enough to get mummy’s phone and send messages pretending to be Mum. I feel very close to them and they to me, thanks also to the efforts of my DD to keep me in their minds.

TonyDel Fri 21-Sep-18 15:41:41

Thanks for all the help. These are great ideas and it is helpful to hear others struggle with this and find ways to get through it. I like the idea of sending little gifts with our pictures (maybe pictures of us and the GCs). Or reading a book together over Skype.
I must admit, from some comments, I am looking forward to the time when the GCs are older and can use Skype or text to chat directly.

RPClare Fri 21-Sep-18 15:48:46

We have two Grandchildren in Australia and are very lucky as our son whatsapp's frequently. Try setting up WhatsApp or FaceTime if you have iPhones and just call frequently but briefly. Son does the same thing, so sometimes we watch them and chat while they are in the bath, or in the morning while they breakfast when we call last thing at night. If its short its not an effort and the frequency means they really get to see and know you. Good luck

Mogsmaw Fri 21-Sep-18 15:49:57

I don’t see very much of my grandchildren, they all live at the opposite end of the country from me. If they need me to babysit, I’m on the train right away.
I had a conversation with my sil when his first child was born. I know I would always be “other granny” as his mum lived in the same town. If he wanted me to be included in the family he and my daughter would have to work on my behalf. Talking about me, showing pictures etc.
I now have a fabulous relationship with my grandchildren and when their parents want to go away without the children, his mums not keen on overnights, I’m there!
I’m always greeted as a friend.
I regularly thank them, especially sil for the work they do on my behalf.

ReadyMeals Fri 21-Sep-18 17:24:50

If the parents can fit up the video conferencing screen on a large monitor or smart TV in the room where the children actually play, you can watch them play and they can occasionally yell "look gran!" like they would if you were in the room, and your face will be big so they can see you from across the room. It will feel more fluid and natural and you can chat to the parents at the same time