I love being a grandparent. I just wish that more of my grandchildren lived closer. How does a long-distance grandparent keep in touch and have a close relationship with those precious grandchildren? One simple, low-tech way is through frequent telephone calls. Even the youngest kids smile when they hear Poppa’s or Nana’s voice.
Each grandchild’s age has its own unique challenges, and it can be difficult to keep their attention. There are a number of things you can do to enhance your time on the phone with them. The following are some of the best suggestions my wife and I have found useful.
1. Call regularly. Kids love routines, knowing things are predictable, and that they can count on a call from you each week. This also allows you to develop a personal relationship with each grandchild. If possible, set up a standing date to call at a certain time every day or certain days depending on your schedules. It’s something the kids can look forward to. It tells them that they are special and reminds them that you are thinking about them. It also enables them to plan things that they want to say, and to refer to past conversations.
2. Use speaker mode. For young children, ask their parent to put the phone on speaker mode and to minimize distractions like the TV. Avoid times when they are tired. It also helps them to have a photo of you to look at while you’re talking together.
3. Ask questions. Get to know your grandkids by learning things they like. Learn the names of their best friends, favorite teacher, favorite color, etc. Ask questions that require more than a yes-or-no answer. Find out how they feel and think. In addition to asking who their favorite teacher is, ask what they like about their favorite teacher.
4. Sing silly songs. Begin when they are babies. These songs become favorite memories. Sometimes they’ll sing with you; other times they will just want to listen. It will bridge the miles and remind you of your special times together.
5. Tell jokes. Have a few knock-knock jokes ready to tell each time you call. And ask them to tell you a joke. Take turns.
6.Make up funny stories. A great idea is to make up stories with your grandchild as the main character. They will like adding details to the story (like what color the superhero is wearing). Try taking turns, each making up a few sentences. It’s also a special treat when they get a call at bedtime and can make up a bedtime story together. You’ll find your grandkids have creative imaginations, and you’ll learn a lot about how they see their world. It’s great fun!
7. Read a story. Older grandkids often enjoy reading a story to you. It can be a book they like or a story they have written. This gives them a chance to show you their reading skills. You can also talk about books you and they are reading.
8. Tell about your childhood. Your grandchildren will love it if you share stories about things that happened to you when you were their age. They will also enjoy hearing what their parents were like when they were children. You can draw closer while passing on family history.
Grandparenthood is the best. One of the blessings is the opportunity to connect and enjoy our wonderful grandkids. Don’t let miles keep you from the close relationship you’ve always dreamed of. Fun phone calls will help to keep you close.
Shayne Packer helps grandparents discover cool ways to connect with grandchildren at GrandparentsTLC.com. E-mail Shayne if you have a tech product or service useful to grandparents.