Tuesday, 16 April 2013

When Grandparents are far away - Coping with Long Distance Relationships

It's always hard when grandparents are far away. My kids grandparents live clear across the country in good old Saskatchewan. It's a 2 day drive(4 with kids) or a nearly 9 hours including lay overs flight away. So you can imagine we don't see them often. 

Before I got married I had to come to terms with the idea that my parents wouldn't be there for my kids lives. Yes, they would be there as often as they could, but in all actuality, for the majority of my children's lives, my parents simply can't be there. 

Lately this has come to bear a lot. Wiggles is nearly 4 months now, and the last time my parents saw her, she was 1 month old. My mom struggles all the time to deal with the fact that they are missing her mile stones. Her little giggles and kicks, her smiles and snuggles. It's incredibly hard on them, and I didn't realize just how much I'd want my parents here until I had Wiggles.

Plus, Flash loves seeing grandma and grandpa. He adores the heck out of them. He tells everyone that his grandparents are from "Saskchewan" and that they came and saw him and they're the best. Every chance he has to bask in their love, he takes it. 

So how do we cope? Well, there are pretty much 4 steps. 

1. Travel. 

I try very hard to see my parents at least once a year. If that's me going there, or them coming here. More than that, is amazing. The more my kids get to see their grandparents and be spoiled by them, the better. This is also true for their aunts. And when their family is here, they spend every minute they can with the kids. I don't think Wiggles was put down the entire time her aunties or grandparents were here. And you know what? I didn't say "Put her down, she needs to learn to be alone." I said "Hold her more, she needs to know you love her." 

Plus, I just plain old miss my family. 

2. Skype. 

Lots of it. We Skype at least once a week. Get Wiggles and Flash used to seeing and hearing their grandparents. Flash gets so excited to see grandma and grandpa on Skype. Skype has the benefit of being real time, and video and audio. It's about as close to being in the same room as you're gonna get while being a million miles away from each other. Flash sits there and chatters with grandma and grandpa, and loves every minute. Wiggles sits there and stares in wonder at the people who know her name talking to her off the computer screen. Meanwhile, my parents and sisters get to watch my kids grow up through more than just pictures. Seriously, skype. Love it. 

3. Phone.

I talk to my mom... everyday. If I don't talk to my mom, it's a weird day. Here's the thing. She knows everything that's going on with my kids. She know every little cute thing Wiggles does, she knows every perfect test score Flash gets. It's important people. Phone your family when something cool happens. If they were here in the city, I'd have my mother here as often as possible to see her grandkids grow up. In lieu of that... I call every time I can. I put the phone to Elsie's ear, and she lights up when grandma and grandpa talk to her. Flash sits and chatters with grandma for as long as he wants, and he loves it, because he gets grandma all to himself. He doesn't have to share like on Skype. It's a special time for him. 

4. Pictures and Video

Especially when you are working with babies, who grow so fast, and meet milestones so fast... take lots of pictures and video. We do. And we coat facebook in them. It's one of those things. We video Wiggles giggling, Flash feeding Wiggles, Wiggles discovering her toes... Those things that kids do without thinking. I see Flash half falling off the couch while watching a show? Picture! Share with grandma! This not only helps the grandparents stay in touch, but it helps you preserve those adorable moments that you honestly? Can't get back. 

That's all folks. It won't be easy. It'll kinda stink in fact. But remember that it's not like even 70 years ago, where moving away meant snail mail. Nope. There are SO many tools you can use to stay in touch, you just gotta make the effort. And for the record? Keeping those grandparents involved? Worth every bit of effort. 

- Adele

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