Staying Close From Far Away
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You love your family, but if you live far away, it can be hard to stay in touch. Weekly phone calls are nice, but kids’ lives happen minute by minute and hour by hour. Here are some ideas to keep your extended family close, whether they live across the street or across the world:
Kids take time to warm up, but usually prefer frequent phone visits to long ones. Invest in a discounted “all you can eat” or internet long distance phone plan such as Skype, which costs $30/year for unlimited calls. Then let everyone chat away.
Splurge on a digital camera and create online photo albums to share.
Start a round-robin newsletter or scrapbook. One family starts with a note and some extra artwork; the recipients add their own news to the package and send it on. By the time it’s gone full-circle, everyone from Great Aunt Jean to cousin Billy will be in the loop, and you’ve only had to write one letter. If that’s too low-tech, start a blog with regular updates for family only.
Make sure to keep photos of family members out where your kids can see them. Talk about the cousins they haven’t seen in a while. Remind them of the fun things they did together on their last visit, and tell them what’s going on in their lives.
Consider investing in a video camera and sharing videos (either online or on dvd) of your family vacations, school plays, and the children’s accomplishments. Have your children create video greeting cards for birthdays and holidays.
There’s no better incentive for grandparents to become computer-literate than a webcam!
Involve even very young children in birthday and holiday planning. Everyone can make cards and art projects to share or send to family members. Use extra drawings as wrapping paper.
When feasible, try to overlap visits to grandma so cousins can play with each other while you catch up with your siblings. Or, pick a central spot where everyone can meet once in a while.
Talk about family traditions and the people who aren’t there. “When we were your age Uncle Paul…”
It’s okay to brag a little. If your child makes the school paper, wins a local contest or gets elected class president, let the whole family share in the celebration. Make sure your kids know the family is always with them in spirit.
When you keep in touch and show your love you may be apart in distance, but you'll never be as close emotionally.