Not able to make that multigenerational family vacation happen this year? With COVID 19 on the rise and travel restrictions and recommendations changing daily, it’s no surprise to anyone that our elderly grandparent population may be most at risk. That doesn’t change the fact that kids will be disappointed. Here are some ways to help kids stay connected to their grandparents and other relatives when travel isn’t possible.
From subscription services like Grandy, designed to help grandparents use technology to stay connected to their grandchildren, or the popular Amazon Echo or Facebook Portal, or just Skype, adding video to calls can help kids feel more connected to the person on the other end of the line. Grandparents can make silly faces, see artwork or read bedtime stories.
For babies and toddlers, consider meal time or snack time to make a video call. Wiggle worms tend to sit still while they’re eating, plus they are occupied and strapped in.
For older kids, prepare a couple of things they want to show and tell with grandparents. A few good jokes, an accomplishment at school.
Routine can be helpful. Having a set scheduled time to talk to G&G is great for some kids, as it gives them something to look forward to, but it’s not a necessity. Sometimes spontaneous calls are the most fun.
The calls don’t always have to be about the weather or school. You can use the time for “lessons” if your grandparent wants to show your kiddos how to bake, build, play piano or draw.
Play "I spy" with the grandparents. Or 20 questions.
Know when to wrap it up. If you’ve got a toddler this will be more obvious. For older kids, setting a time limit can help keep them engaged during the call.
Remind grandparents that there is sometimes a video delay and remind kids that grandparents might need a repeat or louder volume.
If the grandparents can’t do video calls for whatever reason, much of the above can apply to a phone call, i.e. telling jokes, reading stories, recalling something that happened that day in school. It’s always good to bear in mind that an abstract disembodied voice won't hold a toddler’s attention for very long, so prep the grandparents to tell a story or similar.
Create a community online.
The Tinybeans app is an easy and safe way to have a social network that is completely private and super easy to use. You can add grandparents to the account, they download the app, and can easily see any images you share. You can also print photo books and gifts in a snap via Chatbooks.
Play a game online that is kid and grandparent friendly, like Scrabble, Words with Friends or something similar where you take turns either in real time or at your own pace. Bonus if there’s a place for the Grands to leave little messages via chat.
Have the grands record themselves reading a book or buy a recordable book and have one of the grandparents (or both!) record it.
Cards & Letters
f your kiddos can make little cards and notes, sending something along for a special occasion or even just because, helps kids think about their grandparents in a positive way. Did your kid do their first masterpiece in colored pencil? Make a photocopy and drop it in an envelope. Kids don’t have to create custom art each time. Just sending something that shows progress and a child’s world view can be something to share (or talk about on the next video chat).
Start a story together. Have your parents start a paragraph or two of a story and mail it to your child. Your kids can add the next two paragraphs, and send back.
Send postcards from your hometown. It doesn’t always have to be a letter or package. Sometimes dropping a postcard from your favorite park or a place your kiddo loves with just a short-sweet note is a fast and easy way to let people know you care. Buy the pre-stamped kind or load up on postcards stamps to make it even easier to be spontaneous with your correspondence. Try Postcardly for taking it from online to in-hand.
featured image: iStock