Hello, from the land of virtual grandparenting where everyone is a Boomer Zoomer! It’s not a place I would recommend on a long-term basis, but for now, it’s where we are.
While we exist in a place of pause and many of us are unable to see our kids and grandchildren there are still some creative ways to stay connected. It will never substitute for scooping them up in your arms or snuggling during a bedtime story but there is more than one way to love our little ones, from a distance, during the time of Covid.
Let’s give ourselves some credit. We have conquered technology out of pure necessity whether it be for work or play. But did we ever think visiting our grandchildren would involve Zooming into their living room instead of zooming around their living room with them?
It’s a little easier to use technology to stay in touch with older kiddos but for those of us new to grandparenting or having new babies born during the pandemic, it can be a little trickier.
My tiny granddaughter is just nine months old. Her attention span is that of, well, a nine-month-old. But we have found a few ways to connect via a screen. Even though she now thinks her Nana lives in an iPhone, I think she recognizes our voices and faces because she was able to spend the first three months of the pandemic in lockdown with her parents at our house.
Our granddaughter is sitting up now, which makes it easier for her parents to set up a device so she can see Nana and Grandpa. We sing together, clap together, or listen to her babble until she suddently crawls out of view. Bye bye!
I’ve recorded a few books so she can hear me read them anytime she wants — hopefully, often. Reading on Facetime has its limits. We got to page two of Madeline the other day before she gave me a look that I now know means “all done.” I loved this because I wasn’t a new thing to catch her attention. I was familiar and maybe a little boring now. A win!
For older children, grandparents can purchase two copies of the same book. Send one to the grandchild, keep one for yourself, and then take turns via Zoom or Skype reading the pages. It’s great for the kids to practice reading and can give parents a much-needed break while creating bonding time for grandparents.
Our friends did something creative. They built a puppet theater and now put on puppet shows with favorite stories for their little ones from a thousand miles away. Their grandkids will never forget that!
If you play an instrument, babies love and can be completely entertained by listening to you play the piano, guitar or in my case a basic ukulele. My granddaughter doesn’t care how bad I am at it (and I am) – she just loves watching me and it’s a great way to capture her attention for a little bit and hear her laugh. Probably at me but that’s OK!
I recently came across a book I made for my daughter and son when my husband I were going on our first trip without them.
They were really little at the time and had never really been away from us, so I made a book of photos of us all together. I recently did the same for my granddaughter. I filled it with pictures of us with her, her uncles and aunts and photos of when she was here at our home. Laminate thick cardboard and punch holes in each page; tie with a bright string and you have created a board book “visit”.
One of the best “non-virtual” things I decided to do during the pandemic is to write a letter to my granddaughter once a week. I started when she was staying with us and have kept it up since they have returned home. What a great way for her to see what her little life was like during one of the most historic moments in the world and even better, what a great way for her to see how we stayed together despite a physical distance.
There are so many ways to keep loving our littlest ones from afar. This isn’t going to go on forever and it’s up to us to make sure we rise above it and find joy in making memories until that “scooping” resumes.
Last week, my granddaughter grabbed “Nana in an iPhone,” pulled it to her and gave me a kiss. I melted.
Use that technology, make those calls, read those books and sing your hearts out. Dance, play and laugh together through whatever methods you can find. There are memories being made in all of it!
Written by: Pam Lang