It can be extremely difficult to be a grandparent that lives far away from their child and their children’s children. As a grandparent who is relationally and geographically separated, you may feel desperate for connection and feel like you’re missing out on their lives. Thankfully, virtual communication opportunities have risen in prevalence which allows you to create bonds with the ones you love even when they are far away. Video chat apps, texting apps, game apps, art apps, photo sharing apps, and voice messaging apps can help you get out of the rut of feeling disjointed and disconnected with grandkids. Even though technology is a wonderful resource for connection, as an older adult you may feel stuck, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to use them. Many older adults have expressed how the digital age can feel foreign when you’ve grown up in a completely different time. However, the learning curve is truly worth fighting through, as studies show that integrating a smartphone into the life of a grandparent can help rates of isolation exponentially. The integration of the smartphone can truly improve your quality of life and ability to connect with family members who are far. Thankfully, there are ways to lower the learning curve and simplify smartphones by taking a class. Additionally, there are lots of apps out there that are committed to ensuring that connection is accessible to all. So what are some ways to stay in touch? We’ve compiled a short list below.
Do activities together over video chat.
It can be hard to hold a child’s attention over Facetime. Children have a short attention span, and often can leave grandparents feeling disconnected when they can’t seem to keep them on the phone. Thankfully there are video chat apps that have age-appropriate virtual activities that you can do together that create more things to talk about on FaceTime. These apps truly can aid in maintaining a connection and influencing a longer phone call. You may not be able to play with them in person, but engaging in a virtual puzzle, baking, sports, fishing, or drawing activity creates a space for you to connect together. This will give you more to talk about on Facetime, and hopefully give you more face-to-face time to build memories.
Create a plan to talk more frequently.
That feeling of falling out of touch can sneak up on you far too quickly when you are not in the habit of not talking to the person regularly. Without intentionally scheduling time to connect, it allows for time to pass, distance to increase, and you to slowly feel more and more out of touch. Even if it’s something as simple as a spontaneous text or voice memo, these daily reminders that your family member is loved makes all the difference in the world. However, when things aren’t scheduled, they often fall through the cracks, so it may be important to schedule longer calls or video chats. By planning out when you are going to talk, it allows you to feel more in the know about your grandchild and children’s daily rhythms and schedule, rather than making your best guess and hoping you don’t miss them.
Work to keep up with them on social media.
Social media may feel overwhelming, but it can be a fantastic way to stay connected with your family members or loved ones. If you have an older grandchild with social media, it may be nice to send them a friend request so you can see thor updates and pictures that they post. This allows you to be more intentional when you connect on a phone call, as you’ll have more things to talk about. Grandparents who make a point to comment on their grandchildren’s pictures and post frequently themselves allow both parties to feel like they’re getting a glimpse into the other person’s world.
Get a better feel for each other’s schedules.
As mentioned above, it can feel frustrating when you’ve given a family member multiple calls, but gotten their voicemail each time. The only way you are going to improve your rate of actually catching one another on the phone is to learn one another’s schedules. Knowing what time they go to bed, get home from school, have extracurriculars, eat lunch, or have a lull in their day can increase your chances of catching them on the phone. This sense of knowing is also good for your child or grandchild to have a feel for too. Makes sure you share with them when you will be home and what days and times you will be unavailable. This knowledge is helpful for both parties in having a better picture of each other’s lives.