How to Stay Connected When Grandparenting From a Distance
Kimberlee Kiehl, Director of Operations, The Photo Managers
Next to the birth of your children, the birth of your grandbabies is one of the best moments in life. These little humans who share your genetics, remind you of your own children when they were little, and bring you so much joy are truly a gift. When they live far away it can be tough not to get to see them, hold them, and watch them grow in person. Three of my four grandchildren, my daughter’s children, live 10 hours away and have lived far away since they were each born, sometimes living all the way across the country. But we have managed to develop close relationships, and I feel like I am getting to watch them grow, thanks to a variety of technology. Notably, photos have played a huge part in building these relationships.
As a certified photo manager and a long-time scrapbook maker, I very much value photos. I believe they tell a story and that each of us has our own memories when we look at those photos. This love of photos has passed down to my daughter, and now to my grandchildren as well. One of our favorite “together” activities is to look through the scrapbooks I have made for them and share the stories that go with the pages. But when we are apart, we must find other ways to stay connected. Facetime, “snail mail” and our Nixplay frames play a huge role in helping us build and keep these connections.
Video calls are great for all generations
My 6-year-old granddaughter knows how to Facetime me on her mom’s phone and will often take the phone to her room for some “girl talk” or to read a book to me. My 4-year-old grandson wants to show me his latest Lego build. Even my 6-month-old granddaughter knows who I am on Facetime and gives me her huge smile when we chat! They also Facetime with my mom, their great grandma, on her iPad which allows her to feel connected to them too.
Printed gifts for special memories
I will often print photos and mail them to my grandkids after I have visited their house or they have visited mine. After a recent trip to Disneyland, where I surprised them by joining the trip, I sent each of them (even the 6-month-old) a small plastic 3×4 box with their name and embellishments on the outside and 3×4 printed photos of their individual experiences at Disney inside their boxes — including some photos with me in them. They can pull them out anytime and remember our experience together and the fun we had.
Nixplay frames for a daily connection
On a day-to-day basis it is the Nixplay frame that I have in my kitchen that provides me with the most consistent and updated photos of their lives. Both my daughter and I have one (mine was a gift for Christmas from my daughter!) and that frame is the first thing I see when I walk into the kitchen to get my morning coffee and the last thing I see when I turn the lights off to head to bed. Throughout the day, I see photos from years ago intermixed with ones from yesterday. And even better, I can watch short videos of my grandchildren as well! The three of them on the beach, the first day my newest granddaughter sat up, first grade concerts and preschool graduations. I can send them photos of what I am doing as well. These shared photos build connections between us and allow us to share life stories, even when far apart. These are the true joys of life.
Kim is the Director of Operations for The Photo Managers and the owner of Stories of a Life, LLC, a photo and story organizing business in Columbus, Ohio. For more information on managing your photo collection join The Photo Managers for Save Your Photos Month in September 2023 at https://thephotomanagers.com/save-your-photos-month/