Grand Parenting from a Distance

A platform that explores the ways in which connection can be fostered from a grand distance. Weekly tips and an online discussion group where we discuss building and maintaining quality connections with children from afar.
An important role that grandparents play in a child's life is that of a #teacher. Children can learn from #grandparents in many different ways and some of those ways can be facilitated virtually. One of these ways is supporting with #homework. Yes homework from afar!
Five #tips for integrating #family virtually into learning #school tasks and homework: 
Does your child have a list of weekly #spellingwords? 
1- Make a #GIFgame out of spelling. Have the child send GIFs via a messenger app of each of the words and have the grandparents guess what they are by making a list of answers. Let the child review the list and correct the spelling words and spell them out aloud to the grandparents while total their scores. 
2- Have grandparents read out or if applicable act out the spelling words while the child writes them down to practice.
Is your child learning to or able to read books aloud?
3- Practice #reading aloud to the grandparent's pets! Of course the grandparents can listen in too, but kids of all ages love reading #bedtimestories to the family #dog or #cat. This can be a chapter book that an older child is reading or a picture book for a younger child that can just tell a story. 
4- Let your child pretend they are making a show or #vlog for the their followers;) (#grandma and #grandpa) and ask them to read and act a #book that you record. 
Is your child learning about addition and subtraction and thus money? 
5- set up a virtual shop to practice #math! Let the children setup a shop with items and bring the device where the #uncle and #aunts are to the shop to select some items. Ask the child to add up the total and the caller to tell the child how much money they will give for the purchase. And have them ask for change. 
#granddistanceparenting #longdistancefamily #grandchildren #homeschooling #socialdistancing #thuisonderwijs #facetime #skypewithgrandma
Hello?!? Hello?!? Where are you?
How often does this happen to you during video calls with kids? You are "sitting" next them, you are chatting, they are #playing and they disappear from your view. You are staring at a #stilllife of the #family room or #play room, patiently waiting for them to return but also feeling frustrated you can't get them back to you. You call their name, you ask where are you? You can hear something in the background, you feel sad and reminded of how you are limited in how you can interact, confronted with #longdistance - the feeling of how you want be there, but you want them to be with you, but you know they are happy and safe, you want to be together, you tear up. 
Moments later...Your #granddaughter, #niece, cousin, whomever you are chatting with runs back in view and shouts with delight that you are there. Hello #grandma she shrieks with delight! Look what I got to show you?! Whew, you feel relieved, she is back, she is interacting with you, she was thinking about you and went to find something to show you. Look at that smile. She tells you a story, you laugh together. You say goodbye. 
This is normal, this is the ups and downs of #granddistanceparenting. It is not easy, it is annoying sometimes. But you will get used to it, you will find the #silverlining, you will find new ways of interacting, you will laugh, and love and be surprised that love really knows no distance. Just keep trying.
#grandparents #grandchildren #grandpa #grootouders #facetime #videochatwithfamily #longdistancefamily #momblogger #toys #frozen #skypewithgrandma
Happy new year! 
With ❤ from the #Belgian #Ardennes 
#granddistanceparenting #longdistancefamily #momblogger #snow #sneeuw #ardennen
#ardennesbelges #belgium #snowscene #sledding #grandchildren
Lighting some candles on this last day 2020. What are you doing today to let go of 2020 and welcome and prepare for 2021?
Being far away from family has hit us big time this year. The most painful part of this #longdistance has been the loss of two very dear people in our family - my #grandfather and a great #uncle, and the limitations on travel due to #COVID. 
Given we were not able to travel to the #US this year (without extensive #quarantining, unnecessary exposure to ourselves and others, etc), we have not been able to properly #grieve this loss with family. This has certainly stagnanted my #grief. Despite consciously knowing they are no longer with us, I feel a need to walk the streets they roamed or spaces we shared in order to really start the #grieving process and #mourn with my family. 
So we #lightacandle, we share stories with family virtually, we go on long walks searching for #solace, but our hearts are broken 💔 and the distance hurts more than normal. But we will find a place for this and peace with this in time. And feel hopeful for 2021. Wishing you and yours peace, good health and happiness this last day of 2020.
#granddistanceparenting #grandparents #grandchildren #longdistancefamily #newyear #momblogger #verliesvaneendierbare  #inrouw #goodbye2020
Did you just become a new #grandparent to a #grandchild that lives far away from you? Or are you a new parent worried about how your child is going to develop a connection with family despite that you live far away from them and only see them once or twice a year? Get started here 👋👇
1. Write down for yourself what matters to you in regards to being able to connect with family. For example is it sharing in experiences, is it sharing traditions,  is it laughing together? etc... share this with each other. You as the grandparent need to express this to the #parents, and visa versa the expectation and desire to facilitate connection goes both ways. It is ok to cry and mourn that some of these things on your list will not be exactly how you envisioned. 
2. Make a plan with family about:
- how you will chat: e.g. an expectation may be that you want to share meals together, talk about how you can be involved in cooking with the kids and setting a place for the family member at the table; 
- when you will chat & how often; is there a particular time of day that works best for both sides? Usually the earlier in the day the better for young children, but as they get older from around 7 years old and up catching them before bedtime may be a great time to have a traditional chat, can you share a family calendar to help to keep each other in the loop about school or day care schedules, or sports events, etc..?
- discuss & download together which app or software you will use to connect. Getting an app on your smart phone is recommended so that you can be reached whenever you are, instead of say on a tablet or computer. We use lots of different apps pending who we are connecting with. Check out @whatsapp and #facetime but also @skype for group chats, and even @zoom! Of if someone is most reachable through social media try @facebookmessenger_ or @googlehangouts. Throughout the day we send pictures, videos and audio via #threema as its amoung the most secure.
- finally discuss ideas for what you can do together. Share ideas with each other, try it out! 
more suggestions in the comments! 👇
Hope you are all having a nice holiday season. Just a quick #shoutout to say thank you to all the #grandparents, uncles, aunts, #family and friends and #longdistancefamily that let all of us virtually join in on all of your #Christmas celebrations by unpacking presents together, laughing at the reactions from the kids, sharing simultaneously a first #cupofcoffee and a toast with an #aperitief if there is a time difference, or just because.
Your generousity with your time and love makes this #granddistanceparenting thing a little easier for us #parents. Being able to call you at the drop of a hat made this weird #socialdistancedchristmas- without the end of the year parties, and celebrations, a little sweeter! 
Grandparents, we know it wasn't what you were dreaming of- being far away or separated from you #grandchildren, but you are doing awesome! And even if you have to hold back tears of sadness sometimes, know your efforts make all the difference as these little people know and love you! ❤ 
#facetime #virtualchristmas #skype #nintentdoswitch #grandma #grandpa #momblogger
Happy holidays and merry christmas! Who are you connecting with this holiday season?
We are #stayingathome but still connected with family across the world! And missing being with family and in the #snow! 
#longdistancefamily #Christmas #covidchristmas #facetime #skype #grandparents #grandchildren #grandma #grandpa #momblogger #virtualchristmas
Do you have a time planned yet to chat with #family over the holidays? Some tips for your #socialdistancedchristmas call with small children:
1. Call when the kids have patience and energy to talk. Usually the earlier in the day the better. Or after a nap if the children are still napping (or even for grandpa). They don't call the #witchinghour (s) - the hours before bedtime, witching for nothing and that is not usually a great time to chat with young children. Finding a good time can be tricky especially if there is a big #timedifference between you. Figure out what works for the kids and adjust your schedule as an adult, if you can.
2. Plan an activity or something to do during the call- color a picture together,  show off #ornaments, mold a clay #christmastree together, make #papersnowflakes and compare results, frost #cookies, open presents together, etc..
3. Emphasize the quality of the interaction, not the length. If the kids don't want to sit down and talk, put the device on the floor while the kids are playing qnd talk to them. A successful call with #longdistancefamily is not like a phone call where you run down what you did during the day, but where you fall into the madness of whatever you called into. If it doesn't work out, don't fret, call again tomorrow and try again. 
4. If you don't know what to talk about seek out some inspiration. My kids are loving @questionsforthekids ! But doing #showandtell usually works too!
The drawing is my son's from our family #coloringcontest and see those blue waves that is Santa going across the ocean to visit his family;)

#granddistanceparenting #happyholidays #santa #drawing #grandparents #grandchildren #listofthingstodo #facetime #Christmas
Another idea for you to facilitate connection between  #longdistancefamily and children - exchange stories of your favorite ornaments. Take pictures if your favorite ornaments and send an audio message with it via the messenger program or email that use to stay in touch with family. Share the stories around the #ornaments- when did you receive it?, did someone special get it for you? Why does it hold a special meaning for you? Have the child do the same! And send their response back to #grandma and #grandpa about their story. If you don't have ornaments, share pictures and audio of your favorite things around your house- #toys, pictures, #knickknacks, etc.
This is is my 4 year old #daughters favorite branch that she decorated herself, putting every single #candycane together! I hope it holds! In the background one of the many ornaments we received from grandma who lives in #Minnesota, which the #kids love as it reminds them of summers on #LakeMinnetonka. 
#granddistanceparenting #grandchildren #christmas #christmastree #virtualconnection #kerstsfeer #grootouders #kleinkinderen #momblogger
How did you connect with #longdistancefamily (or those nearby) virtually this week? 

This morning we partook in a virtual #christmas #coloringcontest with the #family that has other little kids!
We casted the call on the TV so the kids could see everyone's drawings and faces clearly. We gathered our drawings and also some snacks to help us sit patiently and listen carefully to the details of everyone's #drawings and judge's decisions.:) 
#granddistanceparenting #kidscrafts #momblogger #santahat #christmastree #facetime #skype #chromecast #holidayspirit
What are you doing to stay connected this holiday season? Here are some ideas for interactive virtual calls with the family in the run-up to #Christmas (but can easily be adapted to other holidays you may be celebrating).

1- Plan a Christmas or winter scene #coloringcontest with your #family. Have the kids make a video inviting friends and family with some basic rules. Select a creative judge who will ensure that everyone wins a prize from different categories- most blue, age groups, most christmasy, etc...make sure you have cookies on hand for the prizes. Decide on a date for submissions and a live presentation of the all of the drawings. 

2- a live #Christmascaroling or holiday songs #concert-  Have each caller make a list of songs they would like to sing or listen to together. Set a time to #sing together. #lipsyncing is allowed;). Talk about your favorite songs, not just holiday ones. 

3- make a #gingerbreadhouse together. Both callers should assemble the #cookies, candies, frosting, etc so you can decorate your own #gingerbread houses at the same time during the call. Talk about what you are doing, why you are doing it and ask each other for advice about where to put candy or add #snow.  Make sure you both have #hotcocoa on hand.
#granddistanceparenting #longdistancefamily #covidsafe #momblogger #Christmasactivities #facetime #grandparents #grandchildren
Another list for you of #christmas and #winter inspired activities for your video calls with the #grandparents. 

1. Make paper #ornaments together. This could not be easier- both callers get white printer paper, markers or crayons, scissors, string to hang on the tree and something to trace a circle. Trace your circle, cut it out, make your design and color it in, cut a tiny whole in the top and add your string and hang it up. Most important during this #craft is just to talk together about what you are doing and ask the child questions about what they are doing and if they have a favorite ornament or color. Talk about how you miss each other and what you have done together in previous Christmases and want you to do in the future together when you get to see each other. Ask #grandpa what his favorite Christmas was a child. 

2. Make #papersnowflakes together. ❄ you both need white printer paper, and a scissors. Google simultaneously paper snowflake for ideas on the folds and inspiration and share your ideas with each other. Fold the paper and start cutting and talk about what you are doing and show each other your progress. Then have the big reveal as you open it up. And watch #grandma and her proud face!

3. Write a #lettertosanta together. Yes adults and grandparents can write letters too. If your child cannot yet write, let them draw the pictures. You just need a piece of paper and a pencil. Talk about the importance of giving, being kind and that gifts are great but not the most important  part of the holiday. 

4. Make pipe cleaner #candycanes. Just need different color pipe cleaners to wrap around each other and form into a cane. During the activity talk about your favorite candy and sweets. 

All of these activities can be done at a kitchen table, with a small device pointing to the child's face so that they can also see the caller throughout the activity. Also a little tip for keeping kids under 10 at the table- always have snacks in reach to let them munch on when the activity is finished so they stay and listen a little longer. 

Happy calling and crafting!
#granddistanceparenting #longdistancefamily #videocallideas #craftswithkids #momblogger
Baking with #Oma!;) and friends and #grandma; as making #lussekatter is an involved process from making the #saffron #cardamom dough, letting it rise, rolling it out and shaping it, adding the raisins, brushing it with egg whites, letting it bake and enjoying the tasty results. This gives you an opportunity to ring a number of different people throughout the process to see the kids actively assisting in the #baking of these beautiful buns! 
We made these buns to celebrate #santalucia which was yesterday. It is a #Swedish tradition my maternal #grandfather passed on to me for having breakfast with family to acknowledge our thankfulness for food and companionship and incorporating more light into these dark days. 
#granddistanceparenting #longdistancefamily #bakingwithkids #momblogger #facetime #virtuallife #grandparents #grandchildren
How do you integrate #family from afar into your holiday traditions? A short list of activities in follow-up to Christmas to inspire you:

- Decorating the #christmastree 🎄 together? Setup the device in front of the tree next to the box of ornaments and let the kids show #grandma their favorite #ornaments as they put them on the tree; 

- #baking a batch of Christmas #cookies? 🍪 Get all your ingredients together, have a clean space for your device and get baking! 

- decorating your #gingerbread houses or #christmascookies? Clear a space on your dining room table for all the candy and sprinkles, prep your frosting and get decorating and have #grandpa do the same! Talk about what you are doing and if the walls cave or the frosting doesn't stick!?!

- wrapping presents 🎁 or addressing or making your #christmascards? This is particularly good for the busy family member that you can't pin down, make a date to get your presents wrapped or letters addressed and talk about the people you are mailing cards to;

- singing #carols across the world? Yep #virtualconcerts are fantastic especially if you can get your #uncle or #aunt to #singalong! Let the kids pick the program and get a singing!

There are so many great ways to facilitate connection between children and their #grandparents and #longdistancefamily and friends even if you are far away from each other and especially during holidays; but it does take a little patience and catching the kids as early in the day as possible is highly advised;P. 

#granddistanceparenting #facetime #Christmas #momblogger #activitieswithkids (always baking with the help of our @kitchenaid_be)
A letter addressed to Sinterklaas from my son, aged 7, - "Beste Sint, Ik was lief."
 (In English- Dear Saint Nicholas, I was nice.) Don't you want to write anything else, I ask? "Nope, he just needs to know I that I have been nice." 
Let that sink in... being #kind that is the best gift we can give to each other in any season but especially during this holiday season with #COVID regulations limiting our social interactions and dampening our spirits. 
I needed this reminder as I am prepping for some busy weeks of celebrating the many upcoming holidays in our multicultural household- #pakjesavond (the #Dutch celebration of #Sinterklaas on the 5th of December), Sinterklaas' birthday on the 6th of December (the local #Belgian tradition of celebrating Saint Nicholas), #advent in general, #Saintlucia the saint of light a Swedish #holiday that I practiced as a child (13 December), then #Christmas and New Years. Trying to figure out how to bring #joy and delight into our home without the usual social events around these holidays by planning virtual social meet-ups! How are you celebrating? 
#granddistanceparenting #longdistancefamily #adventcandle #briefnaardesint #pepernoten #multiculturalfamily #momblogger #letterstosanta
"Hi! How are you? I miss you." My son says to grandma's #dog. She replies with, "Hi! Where are you? On a #spaceship? Will you send your rocket this way?" I listen from the other room, smiling with delight that they are playing- #grandparent and #grandchild, as if we were right there, despite that we are on separate continents, in different time zones and talking on #videochat. I wonder how many others are like us, and how many more aren't but are being careful this year due to covid and starting new #granddistanceparenting practices to keep at risk #grandparents out of harms way?
 As we set our tables this holiday season let's be #thankful for what we have and bring those that we can't physically see this year to our tables- set a plate for them, call them up, prop them up, share a #toast together,  make new #traditions, and laugh, and feel awkward, and even sad but mainly just #grateful to share a moment together. 
#longdistancefamily #Thanksgiving2020 #covidsucks #skypewithgrandma #facetime #momblogger #sinterklaas #longdistancethanksgiving
Enjoying these last sunny, dry, cool fall days before it quickly turns to #winter, by doing lots of #fallactivities and sharing our projects with #grandparents online.
How are you spending these days as the season changes around us? We are collecting colorful leaves to make #nature #quilts, and #chestnuts and acorns for counting, making #pumpkin soup and #homemade roasted #pumpkinseeds, and #spiderwebs with friends from sticks and yarn. All practices that remind us of the coming winter and the upcoming day to recognize the end of this growing season- #Thanksgiving.

#granddistanceparenting #grandchildren #kidscrafts #momblogger #longdistancefamily #fall #facetime
Starting from #Halloween to the celebration of the New Year, we are in full celebration mode in this house. Normally this period is stressful for us #multicultural parents and the molding of traditions to accommodate #longdistancefamily into our calls and traditions; but these past two weeks, when we have been here in a second #lockdown in #Belgium, and the fall vacation was extended for children, all this hoopla has been a welcomed distraction. 

***The kids have been busy making their #verlanglijstje for #deSint (Sint Nicolas that is;), of which the grandparents have been informed of through video calls and virtual lists. And watching #sinterklaasjournaal every night, and calling #Oma to ask her lots of questions about all these traditions.
While we are trying to curb the Sint-xiety - anxiety and excitement of the possibility of the #pieten swinging by our house to leave a small gift or candy or #pepernoten before the big day, it is also a welcomed reason to connect with #family. 

How are you prepping for these upcoming winter holidays? 
#granddistanceparenting #grandparents #momblogger