Stay Connected with Grandkids this Fall

Tips for keeping in touch once summer is over 

In the summertime, when kids are out of school, grandparents and grandchildren often have more opportunities to visit each other. Many grandparents and grandkids love spending time together during the summer months, but how can you stay close now that fall is here and the kids are back in school?

A 2012 AARP study showed that 45 percent of grandparents live more than 200 miles away from their grandchildren and 80 percent live at least 50 miles away, so if you feel like a long-distance grandparent, you’re not alone. These suggestions can help you feel connected when you’re far away from your grandchildren.

Use technology. If you’re tech-savvy, stay in touch through e-mails, video-chats via Skype sessions, and sharing digital photos. Catch up online with grandkids and post photos on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. Another option is to play games together online—your grandkids can probably suggest a few! Of course, old-fashioned phone calls are still fun, but consider filling in phone sessions with texting, a favorite mode of communication among younger phone users.

Snail mail! Be a maverick and send a handwritten letter. Kids don’t get much mail these days, so a getting hand-addressed letter or a card can be super-exciting! Illustrate your letter if you’re clever with drawing—or decorate it with age-appropriate stickers or photos of family or pets.

Read a book at the same time. Let your grandchild choose a book he or she wants to read—or recommend one you liked at a similar age. Use video-chat sessions to either read the book aloud or to discuss the book as you go. You can also talk about the book via emails or on Facebook.

Stay in touch with your own kids. Your grandchildren’s parents can your best allies in helping you maintain contact with your grandkids. Your kids will likely be thrilled to keep you informed of events in your grandchildren’s lives, which gives you conversation-starters when you communicate with your grandkids.  

Share your hobby—or take up a hobby together. Teach your grandkids an art, craft, sport, pastime, or activity you love or talk about a personal passion—horses, music, robots, science, collecting, gardening, etc. Or encourage grandkids to show you a pastime they love. You might find common ground for a shared hobby you can pursue and discuss for years to come.