Connect with Your Kids — Ideas for when you’re far away


For this week’s post in our Connect with Your Kids series, Joyce from Childhood Beckons and I asked some of the most interesting and creative bloggers to share their best tips for helping kids to connect with faraway friends and family! Here is a summary of the responses, along with ten main themes that emerged from the discussion.

1. Write Letters —

“I help my 4 year old daughter write letters to her grandparents in NY.” – Rebekah from The Golden Gleam

“[My daughter] keeps in touch with her friends who no longer stay close-by, by either sending postcards or emails (since she’s very fond of typing)”. – Rashmie from Mommy Labs

“My 3 yr old son has a couple of pen pals in different countries and they send post cards to each other.” -Kelly from Happy Whimsical Hearts

“We use the webcam every weekend as well as draw pictures and write letters to our family.” -Cerys from Rainy Day Mum

“[My daughter] has recently began writing letters and I scan them and send out as email attachments. She loves hearing about her letter in her next chat sessions and loves getting replies from them. We do send post cards often too”- Roopa from Putti Prapancha

2. Mail Your Child’s Artwork —

“My mother will email pictures of their travels to the girls. They love looking at the fun things that their grandparents find. We also try to send some of our drawings and artwork to their grandparents to share some of the fun things that we do.” – Terri from Creative Family Fun

“I do send art packages to my parents, his parent, and his grandpa with printed pictures at least once a month.” Amanda from The Educators’ Spin On It

3. Schedule Regular Phone Calls —

“[My son] also likes phoning nanny and his grandparents and listening to them on speaker phone. It’s not a two way conversation yet but it’s nice that he hears their voice.” Ray from Taming the Goblin

“Jake stays connected to his grandparents with Skype and the phone.”- Katherine from Creative Playhouse

“My daughter calls my parents every morning[…] She usually talks to her aunts at least once a week as well.”- Carrie from Crafty Moms Share

“I feel (aside from visiting in person) that a phone call is the best thing for people who are not tech savvy.”- Carolyn from The Wise Owl Factory Book a Day

“My daughter also loves to call and leave messages so family members can listen to her voice over and over.”- Adrienne from The Iowa Farmer’s Wife

4. Virtual Tea Party —

“Sometimes when we set up a video call (on Skype, Google+ Hangouts, or Facetime), the kids like to bring out their play tea set. They ask whoever we are video chatting with different questions like ‘Would you like sugar, or milk in your tea?’, ‘One lump, or two?’. There is always lots of stirring, and then they hold the little cups up to the camera for our guest to take a sip.” – Valerie from Inner Child Fun

“We use Skype, of course, to talk to the grandparents every weekend. Sometimes we set it up on the coffee table or couch and video talk that way; other times we set it up on the dining table as we are eating dinner (which coincides with lunchtime for them), so it’s like we are all sitting to eat together. They love that, and so do their grandparents. Other times they have ‘virtual tea parties’ through Skype (we have a fab photo of our older daughter feeding Granny through the computer screen when she was 2!).” – Jane from Mama Pea Pod

“My kids live 4 hours from their dad and visit him every other weekend. Between visits they talk with him over webcam during their bedtime snack. Besides typical “how was your day” chat, he will often share silly videos and songs with them from Youtube. They get such a kick out of it.” -Krissy from B-Inspired Mama

5. Keep a Travel Journal —

“What about a traveling journal? One person writes in it, draws a picture, or glues a picture, etc and mails it to the other who does the same and sends it back to the first person.”- Andie from Crayon Freckles

“I want to set up a cousins “book” that my toddler and his 7 year-old cousin can send back and forth. They could draw pictures and such.”- Jennifer from The Good Long Road

“What about starting it by sending her some fun materials to decorate/create the notebook?” -Genny from In Lieu of Preschool

6. Work on a Family Photo Album Together —

“I show [my son] photos of [far away family] all the time, and one of the activities I’m going to do with him soon is to make a family photo book with him where he can stick the photos in, and decorate it.” —  Katherine from Toddler Titbits

“My mom travels a ton. We have been able to Skype from central America and Europe! Plus she always creates cool scrapbooks for my boys about her travels. Very special.” — Marnie from Carrots are Orange

“When [my kids] were babies and too young to understand Skype, we made them a family photo album. We got this wonderful one just for babies that has a soft, fabric cover, like baby books do, and we put pictures of each family member inside. We looked at the book each day from the time they were newborns, and talked about each of the people. Once they were toddlers, we also used the book to help jog their memories of times they had spent with them in real life by saying things like “Oh, there’s Uncle Marc, remember when we went camping with him and he scared the bear away with the car alarm?” It helped them to hold on to the memories of real life interactions with them for longer.” — Jane from Mama Pea Pod

7. Give Special Goodies to Keep in Touch —

“When we left my hometown to move to London my little brother was 6 and gutted at losing his big sister and his best friend (my husband!) I set him up an e-mail address and added all our e-mails in his contacts, pre-addressed and stamped envelopes and blank postcards with our new address and made him a pretend mobile phone with our numbers written on it. I also included a pretend train ticket so he could plan his first trip to visit us and a map of where we were moving too so he could see where we would be.” — Charlotte from Make, Do, and Friend

8. Set Up a Blog —

“We actually began our blog so that our family could see our son in his everyday life. They always looked forward to seeing new posts and pictures showing how much he was growing.”  — Gina from Famiglia and Seoul

“My first blog was set up to share with my family what we are doing and getting up to and I guess that is one of the reasons I have Rainy Day Mum as well. My mum comments most days on the blog and my brother reads it at least once or twice a week.” — Cerys from Rainy Day Mum

9. Make a Video —

“We make special youtube video’s for my parents and have such fun doing so!!!” — Angelique from  Angeliquefelix.com

10. Virtual Story Time —

“We’ve been skyping since both our boys were newborns. Now my 3 year old has a virtual story time with my mom at least 3 times a week. She checks books out of her local library in Maine and reads them to my sons in Seattle.” — Marnie from Carrots are Orange


Resources for Keeping in Touch:

1. Recordable Storybooks — http://www.hallmark.com/online/in-stores/storybooks/recordable-storybooks/

2. Skype — http://www.skype.com

3. Ecards — http://www.123greetings.com/family/

4. Google+ — http://plus.google.com

5. Virtual Flowers — http://www.iflowers.com/vir/vir_newgallery_date.asp


A big thank you to everyone who shared a tip with us, and to Joyce for helping to summarize the responses! Do you have a great tip for keeping in touch with kids while you’re away? We would love to hear about it! Leave a comment and share your stories with us!

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Comments

  1. This is such a great post. As you mentioned, my two oldest kids live 4 hours from their dad. So skype during bedtime snack has been their way to stay connected. They’ve just started having him read them bedtime books through it. It give me a little time at the end of the day to reorganize and get ready for bedtime, too. Thanks for the post and for mentioning B-Inspired Mama!

  2. Valerie, what a wonderful idea for a post. I am really looking forward to this series! Thanks for including us! XX, Marnie (Carrots Are Orange)

  3. What a wonderful collection of ideas. I am bookmarking this page for when I need an idea! Thanks to you and everyone who shared ideas. Carolyn

  4. My in-laws are very far away, and I’d like to use some of these tips for keeping in touch over the summer. We won’t see them until October and the kids love them so much! Thanks for all the wonderful ideas!

  5. These are so great!!! Thanks for sharing these fun tips and for including ours!

  6. What a wonderful collection of ideas for saying in touch with far way loved ones. I absolutely love the virtual tea party idea. My daughter loves playing tea party, and would love that. Great resource Valerie and Joyce!

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