As a grandkid, I know that living away from my grandparents has always been hard. It wasn’t just tough on Grandparent’s Day (September 8) or holidays. It was also when they missed the little things like my school plays or when they couldn’t make it to my soccer games.
The good news is, there are tons of ways to stay connected with your grandkids! Yes, there’s technology available that you can use. But don’t underestimate the power of snail mail and care packages, too. Try these ideas if you’re wondering how to keep up with your grandkids, even from afar!
Video chatting is a no-brainer, but can easily get lost in the shuffle. To make it a priority, my mom schedules a time with my nana so every week we could see each other face-to-face for a few minutes. Skype calls weren’t a thing when I was a kid, but now regular video chats have become one of my favorite weekly activities. Sometimes it’s just nice to catch up. Other times it’s useful to have my nana with me while I work on something. For example, I recently called her on FaceTime while I was baking her chocolate pie for a work potluck. I could show her my progress with the phone camera. She was able to help me make adjustments just as if she were in the kitchen with me!
Care Packages for Grandkids
As a kid, this one was my absolute favorite. When a box with my name on it arrived on the porch, it was always the “Best. Day. Ever.” Plus, care packages don’t have to break the bank. The dollar store has a bunch of fun and festive items that you can package up and send along to your grandchildren.
Ideas for filling a care package for your grandkids that they will love include:
- Something relating to their favorite tv show or movie (Paw Patrol toys, Elsa doll from Frozen, etc.)
- Candy and their favorite snacks
- Stuffed animals
- Colored pens and pencils with a coloring book
If your grandkids are a little older, try:
- A sweet treat that you make better than any store, like homemade pralines or a batch of Rice Krispy treats
- Gift cards to their favorite stores or restaurants
- Something practical. Did you notice they were missing a mixer in their apartment? Does your grandkid need their first toolkit? Send it to them – they’ll love it!
Even as a young adult, I still look forward to getting these care packages. The boxes are less frequent now, but always include things that are thoughtful and bring a smile to my face. Some of these items include festive kitchen towels, cleaning supplies, and other things I need but probably wouldn’t think to buy myself.
This may come as a surprise, but even for my generation, there’s nothing like getting a handwritten note. In fact, in the digital world we live in, it’s even more special. Cards from my grandparents are some of my favorite keepsakes. There really is something special about opening an unexpected piece of mail. One way my nana helped me stay engaged was by giving me a writing prompt at the end of each of her letters. She’d tell me about her life since we last wrote and then would ask me a question. For example, “What was your favorite item from my last care package?” or “What was the most interesting thing you have learned at school recently?” That way, I had something to get my letter to her started.
Plan a trip
There’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction. As a grandkid, there’s nothing in the world like a hug from your grandparents. So, that means it’s time to travel. Whether you go to them directly or pick a place halfway, there’s really nothing that can substitute quality time with your grandkids.
Here are some things to consider for your trip:
- Research ahead of time to see if there’s something new or unique you can do. If you’re visiting your grandkids in their hometown, see if there’s something they want to do but haven’t had a chance to yet. If you’re meeting them at a different destination, look online to see what kid-friendly activities could be fun for you all. Your trip will be special enough as it is, but a lasting memory with you will make it even more special.
- Living on a fixed income in retirement can make fitting travel into the budget a little tricky, but there are tons of travel-related senior discounts. When you’re looking for discounts, be sure to check airlines, hotels, transportation, and attractions at your destination.
- Speaking of planes, if you’re planning on bringing gifts or all the things you’ve picked up for them since you last saw them, think about how you’re going to get it there! Factor in shipping methods and costs. Make sure to send it far enough in advance so you can see their reaction when they see what you brought them.
- Make sure to check your health insurance coverage, especially if you’re enrolled in Original Medicare or a Medicare supplement plan, to make sure you’re covered when you’re traveling. This is especially important if your grandkids live abroad, as not all Medicare coverage is accepted out of the country.
Though it isn’t ideal, living away from your grandkids doesn’t have to mean missing out on all their milestones. With a little extra effort, you can keep your relationship strong no matter the distance!