13 Dec (Grand)parenting from a Distance
Oh, so many challenges this year. And so many moments where we feel like we’ve lost time we’ll never get back. If you’re like I am, you’ve missed in-person time with your grandkids, nieces and nephews, or maybe even your own child. Zoom has saved us from being totally unknown to each other, but we all still miss giving a real hug and holding hands as we head to the park.
While in-person time can never be replaced, here are some cool ideas for second best interacting, even if that hug is in your heart and not the real thing.
Read books together
One of my friends has grandchildren 1,000 miles away, and one of the grandchildren is a child with special needs. There’s obvious stress that her daughter and son-in-law are experiencing. Since they don’t live down the street, my friend has substituted a daily reading time over their breakfast hour. She has the advantage of being a retired children’s librarian so is still always up on the latest kids’ books, but all it takes is a little extra pursuing of the library list for the latest or most popular kids’ books. The gift is for her daughter and son-in-law because it gives them a small break from childcare. My friend gets the best gift of all because she has the regular time with her grandkids, even if it’s over FaceTime.
Start with Amazon, but end with free checkouts from your library. For younger kids, picture books just get better and better. For older kids, look for chapter books (of course, the Pack-n-Go Girls Adventure books are a great place to start!). Even better? Arrange for the kids you love to get the library books too through their own library system and take turns reading pages together.
Explore art projects
Another friend is a retired art teacher. Her grandkids have lived all over the world—Costa Rica, Thailand, Mexico City, and Germany. She does art lessons with them multiple times a week even though there’s a seven-year age range. While she’d love to have access to all the great resources she had as an art teacher, she knows her grandkids only have the typical supplies, so she tailors the lessons accordingly.
There are so many great art and craft sites on the internet. Don’t forget to also check out the Pack-n-Go crafts blogs. We frequently include craft or art ideas in our weekly email blast, so take a quick look at past emails. Choose ideas that use easy to get supplies and tackle it together. It’ll create sweet memories for both you and those children who live far away.
Here are also some crafting project resources:
- Rock painting kit
- Crafting box for kids
- Melissa & Doug craft kits
- Or create one from ideas you find on the Internet
My own grandkids are 1500 miles away. We have great times playing games virtually, though. We’ve played traditional board games like Candy Land–yes, that age-old classic. Our editions are 50 years apart, which has actually been part of the fun. The candy cards have changed considerably, as have some of the challenges along the way. But we’ve had conversations about that, too. We decided early on that we’d each play the rules on our own board. We move the pieces according the cards we draw and the other one draws. Again would I rather be sitting across the table from these sweet cherubs? Of course. But we’re still creating great memories together.
If you’re on a limited budget, play pencil and paper games: Tic Tac Toe, Hangman, and printable worksheets from the internet. Don’t forget that Pack-n-Go has free printables, too. If you have a little more stretch in your budget, especially with Christmas coming, here are some ideas for games to send to your favorite kids at a distance and buy a copy for yourself. Really, any game that doesn’t depend on drawing from a finite set of cards or game pieces will work just fine:
- Guess Who?
- Checkers, Chess, and Backgammon
- Chutes & Ladders
- Monopoly Junior
Most of us aren’t so sure there’s been much of an upside to the pandemic, but in reality, we’ve all become more deliberate about making connections that we used to take for granted. And that’s a good thing.
We hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy and making special connections with people you love who are far away. We hope, too, that these ideas inspire you.