Helping you Grandparent from a Distance

For many of us, especially grandparents, the end of the year is a time when we look forward to relaxing, taking in some sun after a long winter and seeing more of our friends and family, particularly those we don’t see as often as we’d like.

These days we all live busy lives, and even though we have good intentions of seeing our loved ones, life happens and get-togethers are either postponed or cancelled. The expectation of spending time with family is natural. The December holidays are something we can all admit we look forward to, Christmas time, spending quality time catching up, laughing, eating, and enjoying our amazing outdoors. But if we live far away from our loved ones, especially our grandchildren, it becomes more challenging.

The ‘other’ grandparents

Being geographically distant from grandchildren can often leave you feeling like the ‘other’ grandparents. Living farther away from family makes you feel overlooked and maybe even forgotten. The role of the grandparent is providing wisdom, encouragement and love. As they grow, grandchildren will go through phases, staying connected and interested in them can make you feel less like the ‘other’ grandparents and will make them feel that even though you are not nearby, you are still invested in their daily activities.

Staying connected with grandchildren will look different but it also means finding more interesting ways of bonding with them.

Grandparents on video call with granddaughter
Video call to stay connected

Being an interested Grandparent

Regular communication with family members and your grandchildren will make them feel that you are nearby and that they are able to reach out to you at any time. Younger people are often more in tune with advances in technology, and if this is a barrier to connecting with them more frequently, it might be a good idea to ask them to teach you. Allow them to lead the way in guiding you through the use of a new device or app that you were having trouble with. Talking  about something you may have recently read that interests you and them is also a good way to have something to talk about over the phone or via video call. Spending time sharing interests will make the bonding time more memorable, for you and for them.

Communication is Key

As with many of the relationships in our lives, we have learnt that communication is key, and this is especially important when you are distant grandparents. When time is scheduled to talk to them, try to make sure that you and they are not distracted, taking advantage of the time you have set aside to catch up. Dedicated talking time is something to look forward to. When talking to your grandchildren, a back-and-forth session of questions can feel one-sided. Tell them about your life and any interesting shows or events you might be attending. This will give you something to catch up on the next time you speak. 

Communicating can also look like sharing photos of interesting things you see during the day, fun facts about topics they are interested in, sending them a surprise gift, like a book they may have mentioned, or just sending them a gift after they achieved something wonderful, i.e. doing well in their sporting event or completing a project that had been struggling with. Communication will lead to mutual understanding and a relaxed and enjoyable time the next time you see each other.

Home away from Home

Faircape Life Villages help our residents nurture these important relationships. Our clubhouses offer free wi-fi, and generators so that you’re not left in the dark. Homes are connected by Faircom Fibre so you are always connected.

Planning visits will make all the missed time with your grandchildren worthwhile. Making sure you plan activities and time together will create excitement; this will mean a bit of planning, but the reward will be worth it, for you and them. Your home will feel like a home away from home to them, and visiting will be something they look forward to. Stocking up on some of their favourites will also make them feel like you have taken an interest, which will be exciting for you too! And let’s face it, nothing beats the escape from parents and chores! Making your home welcoming and stress-free for them will ensure that they remember their visits for years to come. The memories they won’t soon forget will come from the smallest of moments.

Grandmother dancing with granddaughter
Nothing like a home away from home

Grandparents are people too

Distance grandparenting is difficult and can be frustrating, especially when you feel like you are missing out. It is important to remember that you have a life too! Be gentle with yourself and your time with your grandchildren. Making the effort is not always easy, but showing that you are available when they need you, that you want to be close to them, and that you are interested in their lives can make them feel as if you are just around the corner. 

Having a close relationship with your grandchildren and relating to them can be difficult. But if we are intentional about taking an interest in their lives and doing things together when we are in the same place, it can have immeasurable rewards and will create lasting memories. Grandparenting is no longer just about sitting on the stoep knitting and reading a newspaper! 

Our bonds with our grandchildren will strengthen with time if we put love, effort, and commitment into them. Even as grandparents who live apart, we can achieve the closeness we desire. And let’s not forget to take as many photos as we can!

Grandparents taking selfies with grandchildren
Take as many photos as possible!

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