Yep, still doing the long-distance grandparenting thing. When one loves one’s grandchildren and they live far away, that’s what one does.
I send out a package usually each month. In the package, there are stories, games, and other activities. I call them Grandma Games. My grandchildren and I connect over video chat, we play, we spend time together, we laugh, and we have loads of fun.
Even though we visit over video chat I always make sure to write them letters or make them special cards for each Grandma Game package. They read or have the letter read to them, then answer any questions I asked over the video chat. The letters give us some special time to connect as I share stories from my childhood, from my interactions with my own grandparents, and things I’ve experienced throughout my life. This adds a get to know each other element to our visits.
Down below is my latest installment, ready to ship out to my Littles. Remember to check out the Long-distance Grandparenting portfolio for some free activities to share with your Littles, (grandchildren). Enjoy the journey…
There are quite a few grandparenting books on the market these days. Most of them focus on the journey the grandparent makes and what it’s like becoming a grandparent. There are a few that focus on the grandparent relationship with the grandchildren, their interactions, the activities they do together, and how to strengthen their relationships. Some of these books are written with the grandmother’s perspective, some with the grandfather’s perspective, others give both sides of the equation. I’ve read a fair few of these books, all kinds. They all have their positives and give insights on this new status we’ve entered into, of grandparent. I’m sure many grandparents can benefit from each of these books. I think for most grandparents we sort of fall into the role of grandparent with lots of excitement, willingness to help, and without much difficulties. I know there can be problems for some with decerning this new title and what it entails, but for most we get it and willingly take on the new name of Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, Mimi, Gramps, Paw-paw, Maw-maw, or whatever else our dear little people want to call us.
The book I’ve been writing isn’t really the kind of grandparent book that explores the problems of figuring out how to be a grandparent. The quandary I focus on in my book is building relationships with our grandchildren, even if they live far away. The book has lots of simple activities that can be done via video chat between grandparents and grandchildren. Yeah, I suppose I put my teacher’s hat on a bit, I do give lots of helps on creating the activities. In my book I provide fun and well tested stories, games for the grandparent to make, and other guides to help in not just building and strengthening your relationships with your grandchildren, but having the kind of fun that produces laughter, joy, and wonderful memories. I have thoroughly field tested all the stories, games, and activities with my own grandchildren. They get wonderfully excited when they hear that Grandma’s on video chat. I love that! Over the past few years, we have built a relationship that I hope will get us through their teenage years and far beyond. I may not live close, I may not get to spend the time I would absolutely love to spend with them, but creating and sharing these activities with them over video chat helps me as a grandmother, and has created a real relationship with each of my grandchildren. They know me, and I know them. It hasn’t always been easy, living this far away, but I do my best to make sure they know Grandma loves them.
This isn’t a new problem, but it’s a problem we all face in our world today. We want to spend time with our grandchildren, even if we can’t be there in person. I think I’ve found some solutions in my book that I hope to share with everyone soonish. Until then, if you’d like to read some of the books I’ve read about grandparenting I provide a list below. I also found a pretty good article from the New York Times that is a bit informative.
Article from the New York Times:
Title – This Was Not on My Bucket List!: Navigating “Old School” Grandparenting in a “Newfangled” World
Author name – Linda Macconnachie
This book is great fun. It uses a lot of humor to compare the author’s childhood experiences with her parents and grandparents and the experiences she had with raising her own children, to the experiences she had with her grandchildren. She does mention long distance grandparenting, briefly. While there are some commonalities with my book, humor, relationship building, spending quality time with grandchildren and so forth. My book focuses on long distance grandparenting and many activities that can be done to build the relationships with the long distance grandchildren.
Title – Grandmothering: The Secrets to Making a Difference While Having the Time of Your Life
Author name – Linda Eyre
This book has lots of in person ideas to do with grandchildren. The author calls them “Grammie Camps” where they play games, sing songs, and memorize special verses. She shares lots of things she did with her grandchildren and reminisces about different aspects of being a grandmother, which is great, but doesn’t get into any long distance relationship building. In my book the relationships are built as the grandparents learn to play, and share their experiences with their grandchildren. It focuses on being present with your grandchildren in a long distance way. My book doesn’t focus on me, it focuses on helping other grandparents find their way as long distance grandparents.
Title – The Modern Grandparent’s Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to the New Rules of Grandparenting
Author name – Dr. Georgia Witkin
This book gives lots of statistics and polls on the different aspects of being a grandparent and dealing with the different rolls a grandparent encounters. These rolls include, the other set of grandparents, son in laws, daughter in laws and so forth. It focuses on the grandparent side of things and taking care of yourself. It gives lots of advice to the grandparent. It does have a little about activities with grandchildren, but mostly what you can do with older grandchildren.
My book doesn’t give one poll or statistic, or really even give advice on grandparents dealing with situations with other grandparents, or other in-laws. My book does give some encouragement to the grandparent and learning how to grandparent in a new way. It tells about some of the changes that have happened over the years, and how living far apart has become the new norm for a lot of grandparents. My book helps the grandparent reach their grandchildren in a way that will build strong and lasting relationships, relationships that will be remembered for a very long time.
Title – Grandparenting on Purpose: Fresh Ideas, Activities, and Traditions for Connecting with Grandchildren Near and Far
Author name – M. Winston Egan, Linda Egan
In this book the authors tell about many of their own interactions with their grandchildren. They relate stories of attending sporting events, dinners, phone calls, and even postcards, they’ve used to build relationships with their grandchildren, who all live nearby. They even give some recipes at the end of the book of favorite things they’ve shared with their grandchildren. They present a very close and caring relationship with each other, their grown children, and grandchildren of all ages, including great-grandchildren.
My book helps grandparents who live far away find ways to enjoy special times with their grandchildren, through video chatting. Long distance grandparenting takes a bit more work, but I believe we can create those close, caring relationships from afar.
Title – Unconditional Love: A Guide to Navigating the Joys and Challenges of Being a Grandparent Today
Author name – Jane Isay
This book focuses on the psychology of grandparenting. The author gives lots of practical advice on how grandparents can grow relationships with their grandchildren and their children. She encourages grandparents to share stories from family history and their own lives to help build relationships. She encourages them to become free from whatever parenting regrets they have by becoming caring, understanding grandparents.
In my book I do encourage grandparents to build strong relationships with their grandchildren by the play and interaction that is created for them in each activity.
Title – Championship Grandfathering: How to Build a Winning Legacy
Author name – Carey Casey
This author quotes a lot of research to support what he’s presenting in this book. He gives a lot of advice and encouragement to fathers and grandfathers to be involved in their children’s and grandchildren’s lives. The author even gives a formula to use, along with his encouragement to “enter the grandchild’s world”.
In my book I support entering the grandchild’s world through video chat play time. This helps the grandparent build strong relationships with their grandchildren. Each video chat playtime activity in my book, is structured in a way that engages the grandparents and grandchildren, not just in play time, but in relationship building as well. These activities can bring them all closer together and as the children grow older, their relationships will grow stronger.
We live in a time of virtual, almost everything, including relationships. Things have changed, so much, from those far away days when you could just go visit your grandchildren and experience that wonderful relationship that happens, between grandparents and grandchildren. Long-distance grandparents face a huge challenge with grandparenting in this virtual world. One main challenge is that with young grandchildren, you need to come up with a strategy to interact with them. This interaction has to be fun and engaging for the grandchildren, or they will simply get bored, frustrated, or completely tune you out.
As grandparents the responsibility is ours to build relationships with our grandchildren. If it doesn’t happen, it’s on us. Relationships need to begin when our grandchildren are young, so that we can build that relationship stronger as they get older. We need to find ways to help that relationship grow as they grow.
A 2019 AARP national survey concluded that over half the grandparents at that time were 200 or more miles away from at least one grandchild. They also concluded that grandparents are looking for ways to stay connected with their grandchildren.
Several years ago, I pondered this long-distance grandparenting dilemma. How could I build a good strong relationship with my grandchildren who lived over two thousand miles away? It’s not like I could call them, text them, or go see them on a regular basis. They were, and are still very young. So, how do you build a relationship with very young people when you are so far away?
It took me a while, but I came up with a solution that worked for me and my grandchildren. The solution involved me putting myself to the task of creating a way to play with them, online. Not video games, but grandma games. I spent a lot of time developing games, these games turned into stories, which evolved into full blown activities. I integrated scavenger hunts, little kid mysteries, and even a grandma imaginary friend into these activities.
Just like all grandchildren are individual, so are grandparents. We have to find what works for us individually, and what will work for our grandchildren. As they grow, we have to grow too. With very small grandchildren through toddlerdom, we can watch them, read them stories, cheer them on as they learn new things, all on video chat. This type of interaction is great for that age children, but when they begin to talk, reason, and move beyond the toddler situation, what then? Watching them, or reading them a story just isn’t enough anymore. Play! We have to learn to play. Grandparents in essence need to tap into their inner child. Think back on the games you used to play when you were a kid. Which were your favorites? Use that. Kids love to play, they love to learn new games, especially the ones where you have to use your imagination. Did you play cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, tea party, or dress up? Teach them how, then play together over video chat.
Always remember to play to your strengths! Do what you do well, and then do it some more. Your grandchildren will love it, and your relationship will grow by leaps and bounds.
For some fun and games that I’ve created visit – https://www.julieworthington.com/portfolio/long-distance-grandparenting/
Patty David, B. N.-K. (2019, April 1). AARP Grandparents Study. AARP. https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/life/info-2019/aarp-grandparenting-study.html.
My grandmother used to warn me about having too many irons in the fire. I do love to stay busy… I’ve been writing! I’ve been writing the next New Parish book, the next Brigham Tea Magazine, and another project I’ve been working on for almost two years now, The Grandparent’s Field Guide to Long Distance Grandparenting.
The next New Parish book, Home in New Parish, is about three fourths done. It offers a completely different side of the romantic comedy that always happens in New Parish.
The next Brigham Tea Magazine is full of so much rich history of the west, beautiful new pictures of the wild and wooly west, and even a buffalo hunt. The buffalo hunt was with cameras only, of course.
The Grandparent’s Field Guide to Long Distance Grandparenting has been a labor of love. It’s full of stories and games that I created for my own grandchildren, to share with other grandparents who might not live very near their little ones. Or even if they live near, they could still use this fun and engaging book.
So as for my grandmother’s warning, I don’t think I have too many, irons in the fire… I think there’s just the right amount to keep me busy and out of trouble. I can’t wait to share it all with everyone!
There’s an old song or poem written by Tennyson that says in part,
“Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.”
What an incredibly difficult year we’ve all had… I’m glad to lay this year to rest, and let it die… Things that we never imagined could happen, did actually happen. We’ve lost so much… but we didn’t really lose it did we, this terrible illness has taken it all from us, our way of life, our loved ones…
As this year passes, it feels like it should have been over a long time ago. Or, maybe, I just wish we could have had the progress that we have at the end of the year sooner. We know things are going to get better. We just all have to be patient, kind, and supportive, and wait this thing out. Things always change, I’m sure I’ve written about that before… This next year brings us new hope, and hopefully a good new normal. I know things will never be the way they were before, but that’s okay, we need things to be better than they were before.
So as we make our New Year’s resolutions, and contemplate this next year, this new year, and what our new normal will be. I’m full of hope for, new dreams, new goals, new discoveries, and wonderful things we don’t even know about yet.
I wish you all love, for each other…
I wish you all courage, to face our future…
I wish you all strength, to help carry each other’s burdens…
I wish you all hope, that you can see a brighter tomorrow…
I wish you all kindness, for everyone…
I wish you all happiness, from within…
I wish you all, peace…
I hope everyone has a most joyous and wonderful holiday season.
I’ve been working on Home in New Parish, book three in the New Parish series. It’s not finished yet, but I thought I would introduce you to Sarah and Hannah’s older sister, Brenda. She’s got a lot of challenges to face but she seems to find it a little bit easier to face them in New Parish. She’s uniquely different from Sarah and Hannah, but still a feisty Nichols sister.
She was almost devastated when her marriage didn’t work out, and ended in divorce. She’s facing life’s challenges now and holding it together, for her four children.
Below is the newsletter she wrote to share with her family who aren’t in New Parish for Christmas.
As I cook, because that’s what you do on Thanksgiving Day, I long for my family and think about all the things I’m grateful for. It was suggested that we keep a personal gratitude journal leading up to Thanksgiving Day. I have done so, and want to share it with everyone now. I hope you can all find gratitude on this wonderful day!
Personal Gratitude Journal
Day 1 – personal gratitude journal…
I’m so very grateful for my family. They’ve been a special blessing in my life, and I love them dearly. #GiveThanks
Day 2 – personal gratitude journal…
I’m grateful for cherished friends who have touched my life and made it better… #GiveThanks
Day 3 – personal gratitude journal…
I’m grateful for all the hardships, challenges, and failures that I’ve had in my life. Not just grateful that they are in my past, (at least the ones that have already happened), but grateful for the things I’ve learned from them. #GiveThanks
Day 4 – personal gratitude journal…
I’m grateful for memories of good times, happy times, and laughing so hard my face hurt and my tummy muscles got sore! And hoping for many more… #GiveThanks
Day 5 – personal gratitude journal…
I’m grateful for my country. For all its faults, flaws, and foibles it’s still the best place on earth to live. I love the diversity, and the freedom, but I think most of all I love the kindness and care that we have for each other… yeah, I still look for the good, and I find it. #GiveThanks
Day 6 – personal gratitude journal…
I’m grateful for all the blessings I enjoy. Whether technology, medical, or just modern conveniences that are available today, I’m grateful… #GiveThanks
Day 7 – personal gratitude journal…
I’m grateful for the One who’s blessed me with everything, and His son… #GiveThanks
A new character is surfacing in the New Parish series. Her name is Amelia James. She has a unique job, she’s an advice columnist. Here’s some of her work:
Excerpts from Amelia’s Answers:
I’m completely spent! I have no energy anymore. I’m the mother of six children, ages 2-12. I work at my job all day, then come home to work all evening, cooking, cleaning, checking homework, and doing endless amounts of laundry. The kids help where they can, my husband works and has a good job, but is away a lot of the time. I feel I’m simply overwhelmed with it all.
My mother told me I should have a sister wife by now. But, my husband is reluctant, he’s worried about jealousies and other problems.
I’m not sure what the answer is, but I need one soon. I think I’m pregnant again…
Thanks in advance for your help.
Spent single wife in New Parish
So sorry to hear that things are difficult for you at this time.
It’s good that you’re enlisting the children to help with the chores, just make sure you don’t overwhelm them with what’s overwhelming you.
A sister wife would be helpful in your situation, but she’s not a servant, or even a solution to a problem.
Have you tried organizing things, tasks, and the endless laundry? I find that organizing things always helps with everything. Start with lists, lists of the things you have to do each day, lists of things the kids can help with, and lists of what can be done before you go to work and things that have to be done after. Also, you might enlist help from family if they have time to come over and help on certain projects. Give it some thought, I’m sure you’ll find someone to help out.
The old saying, “You’re stronger than you think,” is true. You can do this, you simply have to take it in increments. “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch,” is another saying that’s true. Make this big thing, that’s overwhelming you, smaller by chopping it into manageable lists that can be done with ease.
Hope this helps, and congratulations on your maybe pregnancy.
I hate to even bring this up… but, it’s killing me. I’ve been trying to deal with it for a while now and haven’t figured out how to, yet.
I’m the second wife. My husband’s first wife was so wonderful and welcoming to me and we became the best of friends right away. We really didn’t have any problems at all. She was, and is wonderful!
So, when my husband married again, for the third time, I thought things would be wonderful too.
His new wife is really nice, and I like her a lot, really.
The problem that’s killing me is, that I’m so jealous I can’t stand myself. I know that’s what this feeling is, I’ve tried to deny it, but there’s no way to do that anymore. My husband’s new wife is so sweet, kind, and just lovely. I hate myself for feeling this way! I’m always looking for faults, or flaws in her. This isn’t me, or the me I want to become.
Can you please help me? I don’t want to be that person…
Not that person, really…
It really sounds like you have diagnosed the problem very well. Jealousy is a very difficult problem to deal with. The complicated part is that you have to learn to love and care about the person you’re not wanting to like. You have to let go of the resentment, fault finding, and bitterness. Sounds simple right? NOT!
To not be that person, maybe you could try taking little steps. Take the new wife out to lunch, make her a special lunch at home, or make her some cupcakes. You might try to find some things in common with her, like hobbies, or books, or history. Maybe get, or make her a gift, a sort of welcome to the family gift. A small act of service can sometimes go a long way in overcoming negative feelings.
Also take the time you need to adjust to the new situation. Different people accept, or adjust to things in different ways, and in different times. Try slowing things down, don’t rush into this new relationship thinking it should be something like what you have with your other sister wife. Take the time you need. Do something nice for yourself too. Don’t justify your bad thoughts about the new wife, but don’t beat yourself up over it either. It’s simply something new you have to deal with.
Overcoming ourselves is one of the most difficult things we have to do in this life. Too many people think things should be a certain way and never realize they could be another. Consider the platypus. Is it a duck or a beaver? Neither, and both, maybe… You’re not your sister wife, or the new wife, you’re you. Your relationship with the new wife will become what it will become. Remember to walk through your life with kindness, for others, and yourself.