My husband and I spent most of our “short” 1.5 years of parenthood far from family, which can be difficult in many aspects. How do you ensure that your children grow up feeling connected to their extended family when family is far away? We have been trying our best to figure this out and along the way, we found several ways to connect with family, even when distance is an issue.
1. SCHEDULE FaceTime
Using FaceTime is an obvious way to connect with family, but timing can be complicated. We didn’t schedule a regular FaceTime with grandparents, but I wish we had. Pick a time when you know you’ll be home and the kids are at their best and make it happen. Because if we don’t plan it, then it likely won’t happen. Since we have Android phones, we used Google Duo instead of FaceTime.
2. Connect Using Marco Polo
No, not the pool game you played as a kid; Marco Polo is the wonderful app that allows you to text videos back and forth. Scheduling a consistent FaceTime with grandparents can be doable. But have you ever tried video chatting with cousins (all below age 4) and between different time zones? Finding time between everyone’s nap times, outings and tantrums can be near impossible!
Marco Polo is great for connecting across time zones and for allowing your kiddos to see cousins and friends. Plus, we take short videos wherever we are to show each other what we are up to. This is one of those apps that you won’t truly grasp the usefulness of it until you start using it.
3. Send Postcards
Postcards are a great way to show family and friends that you are thinking of them. Now that my son is older, he decorates the postcards. He sends them to grandparents, cousins, and his friends across the country. No one gets a lot of good mail these days anymore; let alone kids! So all of his friends have loved it. We send them while on vacation, or even just at home here in DC.
4. Share Online Photo Albums
Creating a shared online photo album helps keep everyone connected. We decided on a google photo album, but you can really choose from many sites. Most photo printing sites allow you to create and share albums (think Snapfish or Shutterfly). An added plus is grandparents can simply print pictures directly from the site.
5. Create a Family Photo Tree or Kid-Friendly Album
Display photos of family members in a way your little one can see them regularly. In my son’s room, we have a frame with pictures of all of his family and we look at them and talk about everyone in them. Another option is to buy a smaller kid-friendly photo album and fill it with pictures so they can pick it up and handle it regularly themselves. We look at the pictures and talk about everyone in them often to put stories and family memories behind the faces.
Living far from family can be hard, but there are ways to stay connected. At the end of the day, it’s all about intention. Prior to the days of google photos, video texting apps, and FaceTime, I grew up far away from all my family. Even so, I was incredibly close to my extended family and cherish them. With intention, you can stay connected with family, even from far away.