We may be busy with careers, travel and activities of our own, but we want to connect with their grandkids, make memories and be a loving influence in the lives of their grandchildren despite geographical distance, the busyness of their grown children’s and grandchildren’s lives, the challenges of this wired generation of kids, and any other obstacles.
Maybe you’re fortunate in having two, seven, or more of your grandchildren nearby—or part of them. But many grandparents are separated by a short or long distance. As an eight-year-old boy said when he was asked where his grandma lives:
“Oh, she lives at the airport. And when we want her we just go get her. Then when we’re done having her visit, we take her back to the airport.”
When our granddaughters Josephine and baby Lucy were living in Wisconsin, and the only way I could visit was to fly there. I think they might have thought that from those trips to the airport to pick Nandy up!
Whether you are close or across the country or world, the ideas that I share in this “Grandparenting Near and Far” blog each week can be applied no matter where your grandchildren live. It’s all about building a good connection. And one of the best things I’ve learned as a grandma is that it’s the little things (not just the big splashy things) done consistently and lovingly over time that develop a great relationship.
Since kids love the element of surprise, that opens up a whole range of ways to connect with them and let them know we are thinking about them. Here are two to get you started. The first one is called “30 Kisses.”
A month before you arrive at the grandkids’ house, send them a jar with thirty Hershey kisses, representing the days left until you’ll be together. Encourage them (after talking about it with their parents) every day to eat one Hershey kiss, and when all the kisses are gone, you’ll be there. For grandparents who’ve done this, the excitement builds and builds over the thirty days, until the grandchildren can’t wait to eat the last one, knowing the next day you’ll all be together.
Some of us grandparents like to make care packages to surprise our long-distance grandchildren, or to deliver to our grandkids when they lives closer but are at home sick. You can include inexpensive, age-appropriate gifts and surprises you know they like and tuck in a funny card or personal note.
Chewing gum (sugarless is best), homemade cookies, a Bible promise book, a $2 bill, word puzzles, or a book by their favorite author, a poem you wrote just for them or prayer you are praying for them, a tiny stuffed animal or small Superhero figure are some ideas. The sky’s the limit, and the Dollar stores are good sources to find surprises.
Remember, it’s not the money or items you send. What matters is that you are showing love to your grandson or granddaughter and letting them know you are thinking about them and praying for them daily.
What are your grandkids “favorite things”?
Jot down a list for each one and continue to add to it when you are with them and get new insights. The “Favorites” list will come in handy when you are putting together a surprise care package or at birthday time.