Families are often separated. Whether they relocate after college, have a job opportunity elsewhere, or fall in love with someone who lives across the country (me), they can easily have miles in between them.
I assured my family from the beginning that I would stay very close and connected with them. Once I had kids, it was a bigger effort to make sure the family was included on the milestones of the kids and felt that they knew who they were. I also want my kids to know who their family members are. We live in New York and have family in California, Colorado and Florida.
One of the ways that I keep them in the loop is through snail mail. I send my kid’s art work, pictures, drawings and cards to family members. What grandparent wouldn’t love a hand print or outline of their grandchild? My son gets a kick out of going to the post office to mail them out, so that’s just an added bonus.
In return, our family members often send cards for holidays and birthdays and care packages (just for the heck of it.) The kids light up when they get mail. When a package or large envelope comes, its like Christmas to them. Even the dog goes nuts and looks inside the box for a new toy or treat.
Thank you cards are big in my house, as I want my boys to learn to appreciate what others do for them. Even though they can’t write, they are included by adding stickers or drawing a picture.
I have my phone with me all the time and I am constantly snapping pictures and videos of the kids. It’s a click away to sending the captured moments via email, text message or posting on social networks. Even me grandma knows how to text message. The feedback that I receive is often of happiness, that they feel included. They are sad that they don’t get to see them daily, weekly or even monthly, but when they do see them the connection is stronger because of the efforts in establishing a strong relationship.
Facetime, skype and I-Chat are also great ways that we connect to the family. The boys usually get really silly and my four-year old tends to take over. He is also really into sending “messages” to his cousins. This is basically when I video message him telling his cousins something on his mind. They then send us a “message” back. Their relationship is so close that it’s as if they live next door to one another and have never been separated. It’s incredibly sweet to watch.
I know that these seem like common things to do and they are. But I think that sometimes we forget how simple it can be to value the importance of staying connected with family. Time truly flies by, kids grow up incredibly quickly so let’s take advantage of the time we have now.