November 1, 2019
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Technology can help with a lot of things, like teaching your granddaughter how to sew — even if she lives 1,000 miles away.
The holidays are meant to be a relaxing time spent with family, especially spoiling the grandchildren, but if they’re spread across the country, this time is anything but easy. The good news is that we live in the 21st century.
“Naturally, we fly into town for big events, and they come to New Jersey for alternating Christmases and summer vacations,” says Maryann Wejnert. “However, when it comes to the daily events, we try to be engaged with those as well.”
She and her husband, Lou, live in New Jersey, but have two grandchildren, Rylan, 12, and Amelia, 10, in New Orleans. They’ve used everything from Facetime to the postal service to stay connected.
Here are five ways all grandparents who live far away from their grandchildren can utilize to stay in touch all year long.
For grandparents with an iPhone, FaceTiming is probably the easiest way to see the smiling faces of their grandchildren whenever you want or watch their latest recital or soccer game. While it isn’t the same as a warm hug, the interaction can still be meaningful. For grandparents with other smartphone models, apps like Tango, Google Hangouts, and Skype are all free.
“FaceTime and videos have been our biggest assets,” Wejnert says. “Plus, it helps that our daughter takes photos and videos of their events and gives us a play-by-play in realtime.”
Wejnert and her granddaughter love to sew. When Amelia needed help threading the bobbin on a new sewing machine, they FaceTimed and Wejnert walked her through the process.
Recording A Story
Bedtime stories can be a precious time. Now, with tablets and other smart devices, out-of-town grandparents can record themselves reading a favorite bedtime story. Then the parents can show the video to their kids as they follow along with the same book.
Kids are used to receiving gifts instantly with digital gift cards sent through email, but their eyes still light up when a package with their name on it is waiting for them after school. Staying connected doesn’t have to be high high-tech. Grandparents can sign up for a subscription box to be sent to the grandchildren’s homes every month or their own personalized grandparent care package.
“It helps that we have no clothing tax in Jersey and Nannie and Grandpa love to shop for the active wear,” Wejnert says. “We love to send the UPS boxes to their dad’s office filled with treats and some surprises for each of them.”
The beauty of the internet is that it’s open 24/7 and is a smorgasbord of gaming. Card games, crosswords, word games, chess, and more are all online and ready to play whenever the grandchildren are home from school and have finished their homework. Smartphone apps like Words With Friends allows users to invite other their “friends” to a Scrabble-like word game. One player makes a move, then waits for the other player to respond on their own time.
Time Zones Apart
Older kids may want to communicate with grandparents “their” way — via text, email, instant messages, or Facebook. Social media is an easy way to view photos and events, especially if grandparents and grandchildren are several time zones apart. A private group just for family on Facebook can also keep that special connection when it’s 4 am local time and 11 am their time.
“While they are not driving distance away, they are with us every day,” Wejnert says. “We know their schedules, we cheer for them long distance, cherish the videos/photos, and love and miss them like crazy.”
Tim Meyer is the Managing Editor of Nola Boomers Magazine and Nola Family Magazine.