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.
GRAND DISTANCE PARENTING
Do you exchange #snailmail with your family? 
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Grandpa has been sending us #postcards for as long as we can remember! The kids love getting them and the little notes from #family.  Any ideas on how we can display them? We currently put them on the fridge and a shelve on the wall, and replace them with the new ones. Now we have an entire shoe box filled with them!
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#granddistanceparenting #longdistancefamily #grandchildren #grandparents #grandpa #grootouders #post #lettersfromgrandpa #travelbug #postcardlove
How are you connecting with family to celebrate Spring? or Easter or Passover or whichever holiday or season you may be celebrating?
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Dying eggs is a great way tradition to celebrate Spring. My kiddos got a little creative during the egg dying and put the nets meant for the eggs on their heads, which made for great laughs! Check out stories for the results!
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#granddistanceparenting #grandparents #grandchildren #easter #eastereggs #naturaleggdye #facetime #spring #momblogger #longdistancefamily
Five things to do together online with children to celebrate the holidays related to Spring:

1. Make bunny hats together.  Simultaneously make a cylinder shape that serves as your crown and cut out #bunnyears which can also be colored. Afix the ears to the crown and exchange bunny faces and challenge each other to do a #bunnyhop.
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2. Make a simple paper basket or woven #Easterbasket and each collect whatever trinkets you can find throughout the house and give a #showandtell. Best if done with your bunny hats, as a bunny collecting treats and if parents plan ahead you can make an official virtual #egghunt together in your bunny hats, with your baskets.
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3. Dye easter eggs together. You don't need anything more than the skins of yellow onions, vinegar, water, white eggs and some netting and nylon tights to wrap the eggs in the skins. Boil the eggs for 30 mins and let them sit for up to two hours =richly ruby colored natural dye kid safe #eastereggs. See our post tomorrow for the results of our egg dying call! 
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4. Take turns to describe things pictionary style or with sounds related to the changing season. Scrunch your nose to be a #bunny,  describe a budding tree or flower, the sounds of the first #bees or mosquitoes. 
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5. #Sing songs together about little bunny Foofoo and nursey rhymes that remind you of Spring. 
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#granddistanceparenting #longdistancefamily #grandchildren #grandparents #zoomcall #virtualegghunt #easter #easteractivities #facetime
How are you navigating this start of a second year with COVID and being far away from #family? 
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Are you like me- trying to remind yourself to keep your head up these days?, despite whatever is going on around you? to keeping looking to the stars, keep climbing that #tree? Trying to find the silverlining?
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As #Belgium enters our third #lockdown (third time in a year #schools are closed in an attempt to reduce the spread of #COVID), let's be more understanding than usual, make exceptions more often(=eat more ice cream), go easy on ourselves and our children, call the #grandparents whenever we can and reach out to each other more often despite the physical or social distances we have between us. 
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Take time to replenish ourselves to have #willpower and strength, to ensure our resilience and creativity and be there for our (grand)children as we navigate this #thirdwave. Be thankful for what we have. 
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#granddistanceparenting #longdistancefamily #treeclimbing #grandchildren
How do you integrate your family into play during calls?
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Put them in the center of the fun? Make them part of the story? Ensure a good view to ask questions? 
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#granddistanceparenting #longdistancefamily #facetime #kapla #playtime #grandparents #grandchildren #skypewithgrandma
Which games do you play online together with your #family? 
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Thinking about how we are going to stay busy during this rainy weekend!
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Playing virtual #twister on a #quilt #grandma made, where the #grandparents call out colors and the hands and feet rotate, always leads to good laughs at our house. We also started playing #mariokart online together, which was a great way to connect in a different way from a traditional call. 
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#granddistanceparenting #longdistancefamily #grandchildren #facetime #virtualgame #momblogger #activitieswithkids
Reading to grandpa. 
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You don't need a special app to read together virtually, just a book, a phone and some enthusiasm and patience on both sides to enjoy a book together. So what do I do when my #grandchildren are reading to me during a virtual call?:

1. Just listen, you don't have to say anything. Nodding your head in affirmation is great!
2. As they pause, ask them to show you the pictures, or ask them a question about what they read to support their #readingcomprehension.
3. Cheer them on with #positiveaffirmations. Don't say no after their mistakes, ask them to try sounding out words again if they are incorrect. Or let the #parents who are there do the correcting of words. Keep your role as the #activelistener, unless they directly ask for your help. This may not feel natural to you as you want to help them, but wait to play that role until you are in-person.
4. What if they are #reading in a language you don't understand? Let them read the #book they would like regardless of the language and ask them to translate or summarize it for you. Be honored that they want to invite you into their world. Supporting reading in any language, supports the same skills in other languages. That language is part of their identity, even if might not be yours, so your positive support of reading and speaking in any language is great for children! 
5. Make it reciprocal! Have some #books available for you to read to them too! Reading together is a great way to facilitate connection, despite the distance. 
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#multilingual #longdistancefamily #grandpa #grandma #facetime #readingwithkids #readingwithgrandma #granddistanceparenting #bedtimestory #tipsandtricks #thirdculturekid
Do you read virtually with your family? How do you read together? 
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We have tired calling the #grandparents to read them a book, had #grandma read a book to us, recorded the kids #reading a #book so #grandpa could listen in after work! But we would love to hear your ideas about how you integrate reading into your #granddistanceparenting routines. 
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#grandchildren #learningtoread #readingwithkids #facetime #longdistancefamily #virtualbookreading
Missing sitting on grandma's lap, big time? Three things you can do on your next call to facilitate immediate connection despite the distance:

1- start your call by singing a song for the #grandparents! #doreime is a current favorite here.
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2- Show off your latest trick to #grandpa. Current favorites here are #somersaults, #headstands and simple #magictricks. 
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3- Read together! If your kids are of the reading age have them read a book or chapter to the #grandma of their favorite book, which will inspire conversation about the book. If they are not yet able to #read, have the caller read a short book to them or show them things in their house.
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#granddistanceparenting #longdistancefamily #grandchildren #kleinkinderen #grootouders #callinghome #facetime #skypewithgrandma #readingwithgrandma #bedtimestory #tipsandtricks #soundofmusic #singing
Despite all the pictures and videos one can send #family to keep them updated on what the kids are up to, they just don't do justice to your day. We need words! But due to time differences and busy lives you can't always catch them live to give them a full report of your daily #adventures and the kids already forget in the morning how it was to walk through the forest early in the morning on a snowy day with the cold air on your cheeks. Start sending #fivesenses audio clips! What can you do?:

1- Ask the kids to reflect on their day by sharing things about the five senses. What was something you heard today? Your favorite thing you tasted, something you smelled (be prepared for bad fart jokes from your seven year old), something you felt with your hands, and what did you see? But also how did it make you feel? Did it make you think of anything? (This is also a great way to ask kids about their school day, instead of what did you do today, what did you smell, taste, feel, etc)

2 - Record it through the messaging app you share with the #grandparents and send it off!

3- Let them listen to it and ask if they want to add anything.

4- Then ask the grandparents to respond via audio to the report and do the same- send a report on the five senses about their day. 

=great way to connect! And audio you can keep coming back to enjoy each other's stories and feel involved in the day-to-day of each other's lives, despite distance or not being able to see one another.
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We have doing this with #grandma and #grandpa on and off for the past weeks with great success! 
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This picture is from a beautiful walk during the winter break when we stayed in house near #Odeigne in the #Ardennes. And was great material for talking about how the snow was falling, how our toes got cold on the walk, how we enjoyed a snowy picnic and got lost on the clearly marked trails!! 
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#granddistanceparenting #longdistancefamily #grootouders #audioclips #snow #ardennen #hiking #forest #momblogger #activitieswithkids  #grandchildren #callinghome
Are your children missing their #grandparents as much as we are? It leaves a whole in our heart the longing for their attention and love. We just want to wake up in their homes and cuddle and play games and laugh together. All those little things we took for granted, well some of them can be done online together! Here are three games you can play #acrossthewires with kids:

1- #battleship yep you don't even need a board you can both print them out (search for battleship board) draw your ships and start playing! 

2- #yahtzee. One player needs to keep score and you both need the dice, take turns rolling and help each other count up the dice and find four of kinds, etc... 

3 #pictionary or #parcheezi one person (e.g. mom with the kids calling #family) acts as the game master with the set of objects or answers showing the words to the person who has act or draw them out and not letting the others see. Then you take turns drawing and guessing. This one always leads to laughter and is suitable for kids 2 and up!

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This picture is from the last time we saw #oma from July 2020. 😪

#granddistanceparenting #grandma #grandpa #grandchildren #boardgames #longdistancefamily #momblogger #activitieswithkids #gameswithkids #kleinkinderen #skypewithgrandma #facetime
Tips for video calls with kids that go mute or freeze when you start a video chat.
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Note I don't mean run away. If they run away and hide, give them space and just keeping talking to the caller. And then try again later. I mean you have a #chatty Cathy who is playing nicely and it seems like a good time to call #grandma. Then you call the #grandparents and turn the camera on them and they freeze! My #daughter and #son have both had periods of this and both around age four. So, what do you do?!?!
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1 - Start an activity that doesn't rely on the child talking or even engaging. This includes bringing some markers or #crayons to the table to color, or scissors for a cutting project. Set some #Lego in front of them or #playdoh. This allows them to get comfortable and focus on something other than the call.
2 - Ask the caller to keep talking, first with you as the adult or another child that may be present. Then to start asking the child who froze questions about what they are doing. 
3 - If the child still doesn't want to talk, ask them to show #grandpa their art work or what they cut up. This is a huge achievement if they engage in this way! Comment positively on their #artwork or whatever they showed you.
4 - still not saying anything? Do something silly! Do a #dance, sing a song, put on a hat or something to get their attention and ask them what they think.
5 - Ask them if they would like you to read them a #book, or show them something in your home, turning the focus away from them. 
6 - Ask them if they would like to talk to the #family #pet instead of you today. 

Through all these steps, stay calm, don't force the child to speak until they feel comfortable. Try to avoid getting angry or showing disappointment, it is completely normal to feel sad as you really want to engage, but focus on having positive calls. 
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#granddistanceparenting #oma #grandchildren #longdistancefamily #facetime #videocalltips #toddlerlife
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!
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Five #tips for integrating #family virtually into learning #school tasks and homework: 
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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. 
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2- Have grandparents read out or if applicable act out the spelling words while the child writes them down to practice.
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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. 
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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. 
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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. 
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#granddistanceparenting #longdistancefamily #grandchildren #homeschooling #socialdistancing #thuisonderwijs #facetime #skypewithgrandma
Hello?!? Hello?!? Where are you?
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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. 
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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. 
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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.
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#grandparents #grandchildren #grandpa #grootouders #facetime #videochatwithfamily #longdistancefamily #momblogger #toys #frozen #skypewithgrandma
Happy new year! 
With ❤ from the #Belgian #Ardennes 
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#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?
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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. 
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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. 
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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.
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#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.
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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! 
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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! ❤ 
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#facetime #virtualchristmas #skype #nintentdoswitch #grandma #grandpa #momblogger