Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for your questions sent to Grandma through email. Grandma can’t respond to all of them personally, since that would take valuable time away from playing with her grandchildren. Here are some of the most often asked questions and Grandma’s responses.

•Any advice for grandparents with grandchildren living two states away?
•How did you do the ducks?
•What is your favorite thing to do with your grandchildren?
•How do you come up with ideas for new songs?
•Videos don’t seem simple. What are some simple things that you do with your grandchildren that don’t show up in the videos?

Have any advice for us new grandparents whose granddaughter will be living two states away? We want her to know us when we visit. thank you!

You’ve asked me a great question! Unfortunately, I do have experience with being a “long distance” grandma. (I’d much rather have them all close!) Overall, be very intentional in asking yourselves the following:
1.What supports our children in raising our grandchildren?
2.What traditions/habits build our relationship with our grandchildren?
3.What gifts/things build our relationship with our grandchildren?  Here are a few specifics that might work for you:

1.Make a recording (audio &/or video) of yourselves singing, reading books, etc., that can be played for the child. You might even send the book along too!
2.When you are able to visit in person, try to spend enough time that you are a part of the daily routine. We spend about three weeks a year on our long distance grandchildren’s “turf” and they are able to spend about one week a year on our turf. It is more important for you to spend time on their “turf” than for them to spend time on your “turf”.
3.Use your computer to make free video calls regularly. We found that our oldest grandchild began realizing that we were really on the other end of the computer when he was about 10 months. We are able to talk, sing, read books, play games, etc. We can watch them play and dance. We are also able to see our kids relating to and working with our grandkids and that helps us be ready to join with them as a support team.
◦Skype – this is the one Grandma and Grandpa use most
◦Tokbox – this one doesn’t require a software download to your computer
◦Oovoo – this one allows you to talk to more than one person at once, but we’ve never tried it
4.Along with the computer, video & digital cameras are a great way to keep a long distance relationship active. Send snapshots or brief videos of your daily life often and encourage your children to do the same. Writing letters works too! Don’t wait until your grandchildren are “old enough” to start these habits.
5.Spend more time on your children and grandchildren than you do money! You can’t buy memories or relationships in a store and you don’t want to become known as “Grandma & Grandpa Moneybags”!

How did you do the ducks?
I created a video just to answer this question. The “how did you?” video is often on the “Learn with Grandma” page. The video segment is also included as bonus materials on the “Sing Together – volume one” dvd. The technique is VERY simple and involves clear string.

What is your favorite thing to do with your grandchildren?
My favorite thing is to spend time with them. The activities always vary depending on their mood and what’s going on around us. We usually do a lot of exploring, playing, talking, and laughing. My least favorite thing to do, with or without my grandchildren, is to travel.

How do you come up with ideas for new songs?
Ours is a singing family. My father made up “ditties” and “poems” during everyday moments, as do all my brothers and sisters. My mother, a natural born teacher, does this too. So, it is not surprising that I have passed this habit on to our children and their children. I think of it as a way of viewing the life around you with joy and simplicity and wonder and gratitude. Singing gets our attention, pulls us together, and helps us get through the situations and challenges we face every day.

Videos don’t seem simple. What are some simple things that you do with your grandchildren that don’t show up in the videos?
We find things in drawers and boxes and nature that we find uses for. Some of our grandchildren are still preschoolers, so the things we find turn into things to shake or throw or stack or roll or wear or count or laugh at, etc.  Our older grandchildren have not outgrown such things (they are all boys!) but we also find a lot of things to talk about and challenge each other with.  There are no dull moments when most of the things around you can turn into something fun and challenging!

Whatever you do, continue to show that you value who they are and your relationship to them. Talking about how you became family is one way to do that. Go through the pictures, or make new ones. Keep memory treasures, not just to dust them but to talk about them and enjoy them. Here is one way to talk about family history.

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tags: How to build a relationship with distant grandchildren, How we got you, How I got you, how to talk about your family