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Tips for long distance grandparenting

21st July 2015

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Becoming a grandparent is one of life’s most precious gifts, and establishing a bond with grandchildren often creates a relationship that will be cherished by both forever. While the lucky grandparents live close to their younger relations, some older people are not so fortunate, with grandchildren located miles away or even halfway across the world in different countries.

However, long-distance grandparents needn’t worry, as there are numerous ways to ensure that they are always in the hearts of their grandchildren. Continue reading to find inspiration for remaining in touch with the little ones, no matter the distance.

Visit regularly

While this may be easier for some than others, regular visits should be organised if possible. Whether this means travelling to see your relatives, or inviting them to come and stay with you or nearby, it will give all of you something to look forward to, with memories to take away too. Children will love having their granny and grandad come to stay, especially those that are renowned for spoiling them, and parents are usually glad to have a short rest from entertaining.

For those with relatives in the UK, there’s a range of great travel options asides from driving, such as trains and flying. Here you can get a fantastic discount on a senior railcard, which will save you 15 per cent on the cost of a railcard itself, then 1/3 on all rail fares. While relatives in different countries may be harder to reach, there are many deals available online which can be taken advantage of, and for those who are unable to travel due to mobility issues, you may like to save in order to help your relatives with the costs of coming to visit.

Send mementos

If regular visits aren’t possible, a great way to stay in touch is by sending letters and gifts in the post. Not only will grandchildren get a reminder of their grandparents, but they also will find receiving an item in the post all the more exciting. You could send items such as toys and books, which are all sure to go down well, but you may also like to provide them with photos of yourself, and anything else you may have collected that you feel they will find interesting. A nice touch could be to create a parcel of their parent’s old toys, which will be sentimental for all involved.

Use the internet

Although many older people lack confidence when using the internet, it is one of the most efficient ways of keeping in touch with people, especially relatives in other countries. Emails are instant, unlike sending a letter, and software such as Skype will even allow for you to see each other face to face, which can be a godsend to those unable to visit. Video calls can also be much cheaper than using the telephone to stay in contact, which those with a laptop can also enjoy from the comfort of a rise and recline chair.

Whether you get together to have a quick catch up, or you use the webcam to read a story to the little ones, it’s a great way to see how they’re growing, and for them to be able to stay familiar with you. See our quick start guide to the internet for help getting online.

Get learning

In the event that your grandchildren are being brought up in another country, it may be that their first language will differ from yours. If this is the case, you could learn to speak the basics of that particular language, in order to help communication with them. It can be exciting to learn all about the country in which they live, and will keep your mind stimulated. Grandchildren will also often take pride in assisting you to learn, and you can repay the favour with your knowledge of the English language.

Keep faith

While you may panic that your grandchildren will forget you, or will begin to favour their other grandparents who may live closer, these are all unlikely situations. Grandchildren will always make room for everybody, and this is no exception for grandparents, even those who live miles apart. Just make sure to keep in regular contact and treasure the time that you do get to spend together, treating every moment as precious.

Image Credit: moodboard, Chris Fleming, Beck Gusler, Joe Shlabotnik, Tim Green, Tony Alter (Flickr.com)

This content was written by Emily Bray. Please feel free to visit my Google + profile to read more stories.