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Long Distance “Grandmothering” Part Two: Hugs Across the Miles

Missing my grand-kids has caused me to become creative across the miles. Here are some helpful hints. They don’t replace hugs, but they help us “orphaned” grandmas!

1.    Hang a play mailbox on grandchild’s bedroom wall. Mail inexpensively items regularly, like stickers, gum, cookies or post cards. However, teenagers enjoy $5 gift certificates from McDonald’s or surprise pizza delivery. Any age likes photos reminding them of past good times together.

2.    Call the grand-kids by a special nickname, if their parents don’t mind. We call our grandsons “Major” and “Colonel.” We tell them that’s because they rank so high in our lives!

3.    Use today’s technology. Telephone, email, text, Facebook, Skype and Instagram   all make us an instant Grandma! Read their parent’s favorite childhood book. Tell them you needed your “Grandma Dose.”

4.    Specifically decorate for them a bedroom in your home. Because our grandsons live in Arkansas, we decorated a real “Montana Experience” with bears, fishing, moose, etc. Put special sheets on their beds with favorite cartoon characters.  When we talk on the phone, we refer to their bedroom and actually sit in there while we talk. They often ask about their toys they remember on the shelves.  They usually want us to blow their train whistle or play their drum. Connecting creates real feelings.

5.    Technology also shrinks the grandparent gap. Grandchildren love hearing stories about their parents when they were young. Share a funny story. Email an “I Miss You” card.

6.    Send a CD of your job, your travels or holidays.  Ask them to return one showing off their talent by reading to you, playing a musical instrument or doing gymnastic routines.

Although long-distance grand-parenting can be difficult, it need not be impossible. Be inventive. You may even cultivate more closeness than if they lived in the same town and you took them for granted!

Practicing these little things means every visit won’t be an effort to get reacquainted.  Instead, you use “away time” to cultivate a continuing closeness so that when you are together, your hearts are already entwined. And Grandma …you did it, not from across the street or town, but across the miles.

By Margie Johnson, Libby, MT

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