Nope, don't mail 'em to your folks! We just spent a great weekend with Clay's parents up in Idaho. We love that we can scoot up there to visit them at the last minute, but it's never often enough or long enough! My parents, on the other hand, live in Maine. So visits with Grammy and Papa are much farther between, though generally we visit for at least a week. In between visits though, I try to keep Sam and Vivi's relationship with them strong. We've come up with a few tricks that make the distance seem just a tiny bit smaller.
- Phone stories. This was my mom's idea. She and Sam check the same books out from their libraries, then she reads them to him over the phone. It's great for me too because he'll sit and listen for as long as her voice holds out. They've been working their way through Peter Pan.
- Skype. We don't use this too much because my parents' computer was kind of slow, but they just upgraded, so we're looking forward to some chats where we actually get to see each other! Do any of you use Skype? Do your kids like it? We just visited with Vivi's favorite cousin yesterday on Skype, and she thought that was pretty great.
- Handwritten letters. Not immediate, but certainly longer lasting; there's just something about the handwritten letter. The kids love to draw pictures and dictate letters to their grandparents. I recently decided, in the interest of not spending their entire college savings on stamps, to tuck their masterpieces into a big manilla envelope and send that once it got full.
- Pictures on the wall (and in kid-friendly albums). I find that for Vivi, having pictures of her far-away family right on the dining room wall is a great reminder and conversation starter. She loves to point out the different people, naming them one by one.
- Phone calls, of course. Even really small kids can get quite good at chatting on the phone if it becomes part of the family culture. Often the kids ask me if they can call Grammy or Papa. I'll hand the phone off to Sam and not see him again for half an hour or so. He'll just be off, explaining to Papa the intricacies of his latest string, tape and stick invention.
- Videos and blogs. We took a little video of nearly every event of Vivi's 2nd birthday so that the grandparents could watch it and feel like they'd been there. We also called each set of grandparents as she opened the present from them so they could hear her ooh and ahh. I also keep a family blog full of goofy videos, pictures and anecdotes, specifically to keep the grandparents in the loop.
Do you have far away family? How do you keep in touch?