With the frenetic pace of life, it can be challenging enough for you to keep up with everything your kids have going on, much less trying to keep others informed. However, grandparents want and need to know what is happening in the daily lives of you and your children so that they can find ways to relate, to be present when possible, and to lend support when needed. Remember that the relationship between your children and their grandparents is mutually beneficial, and you are the main conduit between them. Here are some simple ways to use technology to keep grandma or grandpa up-to-date and in-the-know.
- Video Chats. Video chatting makes it unbelievably easy to get your kids and their grandparents face-to-face, even if it is just digitally. For out of town grandparents, video chatting is a miracle of innovation, but it can also be used for in-town grandparents between personal visits. (If you are already tech savvy, feel free to skip ahead to the next section. For those who need a refresher, read on.) If you have an Apple product, like an iPhone or an iPad, you can use Facetime which allows both parties to see and hear each other with the click of a button. For PC users, just purchase a webcam and attach it to your computer, and make sure that the grandparents do the same. Many new models of laptops come with a camera already built in. Then, have both parties set up accounts at www.skype.com. You may need to help the grandparents to get started. Once everyone is comfortable using the technology, video chats can be as simple as phone calls. Your children can fill grandma and grandpa in on everything that has recently happened and is coming up. The little ones may even want to read a story together, have show and tell, or sing songs.
- Family Blogs. Blogging has been around for a while and is still an incredibly popular and easy way to catalogue what your family is up to for the enjoyment of yourselves and others. By creating a blog, you are making a virtual scrapbook with stories and photos that you can share with friends and family on your own time. Two good websites for creating free blogs are www.blogspot.com and www.wordpress.com. Whichever site you choose will provide user-friendly tips for selecting backgrounds, uploading pictures, pasting links, etc. While blogs can become extremely time-consuming, having all of your family’s news, struggles, and joys in one place will cut down on the conversations and correspondence that you have been doing to keep those who love your family informed.
- Online Photo Albums. Websites like Shutterfly, Snapfish, and Picasa are amazing ways to store photos, share online albums, and make quick scrapbooks. It is a good idea to store photos online anyway because you never know what may happen to your phone, camera, or home computer. If one of these crashes or gets dropped in the toilet by your little cherub, you would hate for those memories to be lost forever. By making an online folder, or “album,” after an event, you can easily email the link to the grandparents – and to others who shared in the occasion, whether it was a birthday party, soccer game, or social gathering. Also, a super easy gift for the grands is to compile the latest pics and create a photo book that, at the click of your mouse, can be delivered to your house or theirs in days.
- Emails and Text Messages. It sounds simple, and that’s because it is. Grandparents who have email accounts love to check them, and if they are savvy enough to text, even better. There are bound to be moments in the day when your child does something cute, funny, or impressive and you want to share it with someone but only have a moment. Dash off a quick email or text message about what just happened – try to include a picture if you can. Email is also a great way to send the grandparents a quick list, like “This is what Maya is into right now” or “A brief look at Ben’s busy weekend.” Everyone likes to be thought of and included, so follow through with your impulse to share what’s going on with the grandparents.
Technology makes it so easy to stay in touch, but it may be up to you to educate the grandparents on how to use it. Taking a half hour to explain or introduce something on the computer or their phone may open up a whole new world of quick communication for you and your family. Of course, you will always score big points by going the traditional route – writing a letter, sending actual photos, and, of course, taking time to stop by in person or planning a special trip to see them. Remember that keeping grandparents in the loop is sometimes the greatest gift you can give them; and, of course, the rewards are mutual.