There is a special bond between grandparents and their grandkids. And if social distancing during this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that it’s possible to develop and maintain that bond regardless of how far you are from each other. Here are some of my family’s ideas and tips for keeping the kids connected to Granny and Grandpa.
Share old photos & stories
There’s nothing more nostalgic than an old photo. My daughters love to listen to stories of ‘the olden days’ and photos bring those stories to life.
Before my grandmother passed away, we asked her to write down everything she remembered about her life. We typed up many pages of handwritten notes, added in some photos and printed it out. One evening, we were chatting about World War II and I pulled out the book which had stories about when my girls’ great grandmother met their great grandfather during World War II. They sat looking through the book for the rest of the evening.
Today there are so many ways to capture and preserve photos and memories. One of the simplest is to capture all your old photos in an app like Photomyne – it’s as easy as taking a picture. You can then add comments to the photo and organize them in albums or slideshows to share with family.
Grandparents & tech? Be patient
Even if Granny and Grandpa are tech savvy, you’re going to need a little patience when connecting with them over the various different platforms. Zoom, Google Meets and WhatsApp are all pretty easy to use – just answer the phone or click on the link.
But certain aspects, like turning on the audio or positioning the camera, can take longer to work out for some grandparents. Be patient. Towards the beginning of lockdown my daughter WhatsApp video-called her Grandmother and had a 20-minute conversation with Granny’s ear. Eventually Gran figured out that she had to hold the phone away from her and look at the screen.
Create Grandma’s recipe book
“Phone Granny and ask her for her (insert delicious dish) recipe,” is something my daughter has heard many times in her short life. And a lot of the recipes we ask for come from a handwritten recipe book belonging to Great Granny. So many of our family memories are connected to food – whether it’s a favorite childhood meal or the family’s traditional Christmas feast – that sharing recipes between the generations is a great way to stay connected. There are loads of apps for recording and storing recipes, but if you’re old school, a handwritten book of recipes can become a family treasure.
Pass on a skill
There’s a lot a child can learn from their grandparents, and, in turn, a lot grandparents can learn from their grandkids. Don’t let distance stop these meaningful interactions from happening.
Once you’ve all figured out Zoom, set up some online classes – whether it’s knitting, cooking, DIY, or just reading practice. My aunt taught her granddaughter to play the piano across continents; and my 6-year-old nephew has taught grandpa everything a 74-year-old man ever wanted to know about Lego Batman!
Share the music you love
Okay, so we said there’s nothing more nostalgic than a photograph, but music has to be up there too. Grandpa passed on a stack of old vinyl records to our daughter and she sits for hours listening to ‘grandpa’ music. The Beatles are a favorite, but we’ve also heard Fleetwood Mac and Elvis (from Granny) coming from her room.
When our family does have a chance to physically get together, we put the music on and all three generations sing (and dance) together. Imagine kids, teens and 70-somethings dancing around, all singing to The Archies’ ‘Sugar Sugar’. That’s a connection and a memory that lasts a lifetime.
Take a look at apps like Spotify or Deezer, which give you access to decades worth of music. You can create a playlist of your all-time favorite songs and share with the grandkids. Time to create a whole new generation of Eagles, Springsteen and Santana fans!
Free printable: Make Grandma & Grandpa your pen pal
Why not surprise Granny and Grandpa with some old-fashioned snail mail? We’ve created this free two-page printable letter template for younger kids to color, draw and fill out, and send to their grandparents.
Simply click this link: Free Printable Grandparents Letter Template to download and print.
Guest post by Samantha van Dijk