Grandparenting From A Distance
An unfortunate irony of the current pandemic is that many people have more available time, but are unable to spend it with those they care most about. One of the most difficult aspects of the pandemic for many seniors is being separated from grandchildren. According to the CDC, the more individuals a person interacts with and the longer the interaction, the greater the risk of COVID-19 spread. This means that children and teens who have returned to in-person school, or those who may be spending time with friends or working part-time jobs, can unwittingly pose a danger to seniors. Grandparenting from a distance cannot take the place of spending time with grandchildren in person, but it can help keep the connection strong. Read on for some helpful tips.
Connect “Face to Face”
Zoom, Facetime (for iOS users) and Facebook Messenger (for Facebook users) are just a few of the more popular, easy-to-use platforms for video calls or video chats. Depending on the age of your grandchildren, schedule a regular time to visit with them either directly or through their parents. Although it is no replacement for in-person interaction, being able to see facial expressions and share a laugh or two can lead to some serious bonding.
Become a Penpal
“Snail mail” isn’t as common as it used to be, and that can make it all the more special. Make a commitment to become penpals with your grandchildren, and start exchanging letters, short notes, drawings, or even journal entries or poems by mail. The built-in time delay with this type of communication will create a little anticipation and a nice surprise to look forward to.
Schedule a Family Meeting
If you have several grandchildren who live in different locations, try scheduling a group video call each month using Zoom or a similar platform. Children of all ages are getting very proficient with this type of communication from their remote learning, and they will love the chance to show off their skills! Also, consider excusing parents from the call! The parents will get a short break, and the grandchildren will have a chance to share stories with their cousins and grandparents.
Play Virtual Games
Even though you can’t schedule an in-person game night right now, that doesn’t mean all the fun has to stop. During this pandemic, virtual board game nights have taken the internet by storm. Traditional games like Bingo, Trivia, Yahtzee and Pictionary can be just as fun when played on a computer or tablet as they are in person. Schedule a virtual game night date with your grandkids, make some snacks, pull up a chair and get ready to have some fun! Here’s a list of games that can easily be played on Zoom or a similar platform.
Read to Each Other
Just hearing a loved one’s voice can be incredibly soothing. If you have young grandchildren, schedule a regular time to read a bedtime story or share an illustrated book over video. If your grandchildren are older, consider starting a book club. Take turns selecting an age-appropriate book to read together and discuss during monthly calls. The free website readastorytome.com allows you to invite someone to your own reading room where you can then read a story to each other. The free registration comes with a library of books to choose from, and you can also upload your own.
Share a Craft or Project
Collaborating on a project with your grandchild can be fun and relaxing, and also provides an opportunity to enjoy a shared interest or learn more about one another. Depending on the age of your grandchild and his or her interests, you might enjoy a craft-related project (you could mail supplies to your grandchild), working on creating a memory book, researching your family genealogy online, exploring Google Earth and make a list of places to visit someday or planting gardens from seeds and checking on their growth during video calls. The activity itself really doesn’t matter, what’s important is that it is quality time spent together.
Stay in Touch
Even during more normal times, the key to bonding with grandchildren is to make time for them and select activities that allow you to find some common ground. At Kyffin Grove, we understand the importance of staying connected to family members in safe ways. We facilitate video meetings and phone calls to relatives and also help residents forge strong social connections within our supportive living community. To learn more about our lifestyle and wellness programs, contact us to schedule a virtual tour.