My kids are fortunate to have both sets of grandparents in their lives, and are blessed that all four of them love their grandkids immensely. I get a kick out of seeing one generation interact with the other. The challenge is that my parents live seven hours away and my in-laws live across the state, which is a two-hour drive.
I recall visiting my grandmother on a weekly basis when I was a child. She lived 20 minutes from my house. Sunday dinners very often included extended family. But families like mine are on the move. Whether in search of more job opportunities, a lower cost of living or better quality of life, we're relocating now more than ever before.
Don't let the mileage distance create a separation between your children and your parents. There are many ways to help your kids and their grandparents forge a wonderful relationship across state lines.
Make the Call
Establish a day and time each week when the kids can call their grandparents, preferably not just before naptime or bedtime, or during a favorite TV show.
Even babbling babies can participate, although they'll likely try to eat the phone! Show them a picture of grandma and grandpa so they'll begin associating the face with the voice.
With toddlers and preschoolers, help get the conversation started. Prep your parents beforehand about what happened that day around the house, at school, or at the park, so they can ask some great open-ended questions.
Put Pen to Paper
Postage stamps cost 44 cents. If you didn't know that, it's been too long since you used one! Okay, okay, email is quicker and easier, and lots of grandparents use it. But who doesn't like receiving mail that isn't junk or bills?
Grandparents want to hear about their grandson's first step or granddaughter's first words, but take a moment to also tell them about a trip to the park or today's antics that made you laugh. These everyday moments are just as important.
When your toddler or preschooler wants to write a letter, write it for them verbatim, so it comes from the mouths of babes. Letter writing is a great homework assignment for school-aged kids.
Encourage grandparents to reciprocate. Kids love receiving mail.
Make Good Use of Those Masterpieces
Artwork begins arriving home the first day of preschool and doesn't ever stop. If guilt keeps you from throwing it away, send some to your parents, whose refrigerator is begging for a paint-splotched piece of construction paper that your daughter insists is a portrait of the dog.
Have fun making homemade valentines, birthday cards, and gifts. Cut and laminate those kindergarten masterpieces to make a cool coaster or mouse pad.
And what to do with all of those extra photos collecting in boxes? Give your kids some scissors and let them have at it, cutting them to make collages.
Don't forget to date each masterpiece and include your child's age!
Check the Computer
So many ways exist to keep people connected online: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter. Create your own blog or website through which grandparents can read about your family's adventures. Post videos of your daughter's soccer game or your son's school play. Use Skype to have face-to-face conversations thousands of miles apart.
Remember, the best gift families have is each other. Make an effort to maintain that gift across state lines. You'll be glad you did.