I moved to Hawaii in June of 2007. It was hard to leave my children and grandchildren. Some of my grandchildren were very young. I wanted to stay connected. I knew the older kids would remember me, but I was doubtful that a 10 month old would. So, I started thinking of ways to stay close. Here are a few things I did to keep actively engaged with my grandchildren:
1. Wrote a short story with my 12 year old grandson. Clayton started the story, emailed it to me, then I added to the story, emailed it to him. We did this back and forth. It was fun and the story got pretty far fetched, silly, and imaginative. We both looked forward to receiving our email story. I think it was a competition to see how we could take the story in different directions.
2. Helped the children pick out their 4-H photography project for the county fair. My daughter helped the children email me their photographs. I gave them a look and then talked to the kids, telling them which ones were my favorites. This made me feel like I was having an active part in their lives.
3. For the younger grandchildren, I videotaped myself reading a book to them. I personalized the video calling the children by name. When I filmed the video I used my laptop with webcam. To produce the movie I used movie maker and burned the video to a DVD. I mailed the disc and book to the grandchildren as a gift.
4. I made silly videos for the grandchildren’s birthdays. These videos were small clips that could be emailed. I called my daughter so she could let the kids watch the video on their actual birthday. It was great fun to talk to the kids afterwards to get their response.
5. We connected through video calls, although we didn’t do this on a regular basis. We got discouraged because we had a hard time with the audio. I hope to work out the kinks. I just signed up for Skype and hope to try it out soon.
6. I narrated several chapters of a book my grandchildren were reading in school. Since my daughter homeschools I was able to get a jump on their school assignments. I recorded myself reading, placed it on movie maker, and burned it to a DVD. My daughter played the DVD on the television and the kids listened.
Two more grandchildren have been born since I moved to Hawaii. I am more determined then ever to stay close and connected. It just takes creativity, time, willingness, and love. I don’t think I have a problem in the love department. Okay, long distance grandparents, I want to hear from you. I could use some more creative ideas!