I love my grandmother! She is such an amazing lady with a loving heart, strong spirit and contagious laugh. I have so many memories of growing up with her and have learned so many life lessons from her amazing example. I feel that it is a huge blessing that she is still with us to share her example and radiance with my children. They adore their great-grandmother (Nanny-Joy, as we call her) and would be happy to visit with her every day. The only problem with that is that she lives in an assisted living community which is a long trip from our home in California, USA.
Because I want my kids to have a good relationship with their Nanny-Joy, we have had to get a little creative to think of ways to help us stay connected with her. Thanks to technology this has become a lot easier. It makes the distance seem a lot less daunting, and allows my kids to make the most of all of the time we have with my grandmother. Another benefit is that when she comes to visit, my kids already have a good relationship so they don’t have to “warm up” to her. It also takes a lot of the sting out of goodbyes, knowing that we can stay connected while she is away.
Here are a few of the ways that we stay connected with our long distance grandparents:
1. Video Chats- This is one of our favorite ways to stay connected with Nanny-Joy! We have a standing weekly video chat date (Monday, after-school). This gives the kids a chance to talk and laugh with her about their daily activities. They tell her jokes, tell her about things going on in their week, perform dance recital routines for her and just enjoy chatting. For my kids, seeing her through a video chat session is so much more comfortable than talking on the phone. It also allows her to see them and see how they are growing. It has been so amazing to invite Nanny-Joy into our home (virtually) each week.
2. Photos- Thanks to smart phones, we seem to be snapping photos of day-to-day activities all the time! (I may be guilty of holding up shopping-cart traffic at the grocery store yesterday because my daughter was being so adorable that I just had to capture it). To my long-distance grandmother, these photos are more than just a cute pic, they are a precious glimpse into our daily lives. She LOVES them and will often yell at me (in a loving way) if I haven’t shared many photos of the kids lately.
3. Work on a project together- a lot of times me or my kids will start a long-distance project with Nanny-Joy. For a while, my son was working on drawing out plans for a chocolate factory. Each week when we would video chat, he would pull out his factory plans and show them to her. She would give him suggestions to add, and he would work on it through the week. It was fun to see them working together and have something fun to talk about during their video chat sessions. These projects could be getting recipes from a grandparent to make, getting virtual instructions/ advice for a skill such as sewing, or even writing stories together. Find something fun that you both can participate in together, virtually.
4. Emails- Sometimes it just can’t wait, so my kids will send a quick message to Nanny-Joy in-between our video chat sessions. It’s nice for them to know that they can send her a message anytime they want (plus it’s great for their writing skills). They get such a thrill when they get a message back, giving them the answer to a question or just assuring them that Nanny-Joy is just a few clicks away!
5. Mailing letters and cards- While I am so thankful for technology to help us stay connected with Nanny-Joy, I feel as though there is something special about a handwritten letter or card. So from time to time the kids and I will mail Nanny-Joy a letter or card. They love sending her messages and drawings, and I know that it’s always a nice surprise for her to get something special in her mailbox.
I am thankful that we have so many ways to stay connected with my grandmother on a daily basis. Without it, I know that my kids would be missing out on a valuable opportunity to learn from her and build a special relationship with her. I can’t imagine not having that in our lives.
If you want to build this type of relationship with a long-distance grandparent, but he or she is having a hard time navigating the technology that makes that possible, there is a new product that may make this a reality for you.
GrandPad is the first digital tablet and network, created specifically with seniors in mind. This platform allows seniors to connect with family members through a special, easy to navigate tablet that allows for video chatting, checking emails, sharing photos, playing games and more. This tablet, with it’s simplified design, eliminates passwords, confusing settings, tech issues and pop-ups so that using a tablet no longer feels overwhelming. The tablet pairs with a smartphone or desktop app that all family members can download, so that everyone can easily interact with their grandparent through the GrandPad. This turns technology into a useful tool for seniors rather than an overwhelming barrier.
The GrandPad is sold as a subscription service (starting at $60 per month) and has simple month-to-month, no-risk, no-contract plans. It has its own wireless data connectivity (Verizon LTE), and each plan includes Simple Phone Calls, Damage / Theft Insurance, Video Calls, Applications & Games, Music & Entertainment, Support & Training, And more!
The GrandPad would make an excellent Christmas gift for a special senior in your life, as well as for all of your family members who will get the priceless gift of enjoying valuable time with a beloved long-distance grandparent.
I just love the idea of a GrandPad, but $60 plus a month is too much for most budgets!
I get what you are saying Judy. Great idea, and hopefully it works great for some.