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Six secrets to a fulfilling long-distance grandparenting


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The perks of being a grandparent outweigh even that of the parent. You can enjoy the joys of parenthood all over again without the burden of dealing with schedules, tantrums and discipline. However, what does one do when their children live far away, and one doesn't get to spend as much time as they would like with their grandchildren? 

As careers and job opportunities break geographical boundaries, more and more families are becoming mobile. Gone are the days when one would settle down in a city or country for good. It also means families have to deal with long-distance relationships. 

Not meeting each other enough times in person should not mar the beauty of the relationship. It takes a bit of extra effort by the parents and grandparents to develop and nurture the beautiful bond between the two generations. 

Here are a few creative ways you can establish that special bond with your grandchildren:

We all know about Facetime, WhatsApp video calls, Zoom, and Skype. But, more often than not, after exhausting the standard template of how the day was, what was for lunch, and so on, we are rushing to fill in awkward pauses. Sometimes the kids are far too young to carry out meaningful conversations, or they may not relate to your part of the world. At such times, you need to think out of the box and use technology better. 

Bond over stories: 

If the kids are younger, you could read out a favourite book to them by sharing the screen. There are plenty of websites over the Internet that has free online books sorted by age group. Monkey Pen and Stories for Kids are two such options. If the kids are older, you could still read a book together. You could have engaging debates and discussions later. 

Play silly games:

The next time you schedule a call with your grandkids, keep a few games handy. You could teach them games you played yourself as a kid or play online games to have fun. Games like hangman, Among Us, or UNO are popular among younger and older kids. You could even play the good old dumb charades or antakshari, depending on the children's interests. 

Build your way into their life:

You may not be with them physically all the time, but you can make your presence felt nevertheless. You can do this by regularly sharing events from your life. If you think there's hardly anything happening, what do we share? Or that kids may not be interested, then you are mistaken. 

You could share a recipe for their favourite snack, a funny video you found on the Internet, a song, or even send a recording of yours narrating a short tale out of Epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata, which the parents can play out for them at bedtime. That way, you will be a part of their daily life even from afar.

Learn about them:

This one's easy because grandparents are naturally curious and eager to know more about their grandbabies. The more you take an interest in their tastes and likes, the easier it becomes to connect when you meet them or talk to them over the phone. If they speak a different language than yours, try to learn a few words and surprise them. 

Write letters:

The charm of writing long-form letters should not die but rather be passed on to the next generation. Who better to show the way than the grandparents! Write letters to your favourite people about mundane stuff, local happenings, or interesting anecdotes about their parents, and spill the secrets! Share an old photograph or a postcard from your latest trip to make it as personal as possible. You will have a lot more to bond over when you meet next. These are also legacies you could leave behind to be cherished. 

Hand-craft memories together:

Collect their old photographs and make a scrapbook with timelines and a snippet about each photo. Ask the kids to keep adding to the book. The parents can and will gladly help you out with this project. You can start a plant project together. Gift them the seeds for them to sow in their home garden. Each month, you can compare their progress and share tips to take better care of the saplings. 

Are you also a long-distance grandparent? How do you bond with your grandchildren?

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