The isolation of quarantine is hard for everyone, and especially grandparents who have to stay apart from their rapidly growing grandkids. But just because you can’t spend the weekend at the grandparents’ house doesn’t mean that you can’t stay connected with them through other means. Try these 10 different ways to stay connected with the grandparents during quarantine and beyond.
Send care packages.
Many grandparents love to send toys and other gifts to their grandkids, but the love goes both ways. Put together a thoughtful care package that includes letters from the grandkids, family pictures and a few personal gifts (such as a city scented candle or state scented candle that smells like your hometown). If you’re worried about going out to the post office right now, you can create a custom photo gift using a service such as Shutterfly and then ship it directly to the grandparents. And, of course, you can always pop letters and photos in the mailbox with just a stamp.
Offer to teach them technology.
While technology is helping us stay more connected than ever, many grandparents struggle to operate the latest apps. This lack of technology savvy can further compound their isolation, leaving them out of group texts, weekly video chats and other ways that families stay connected virtually. If the grandparents aren’t sure how to operate technology, offer to help them. Or, better yet, get one of the grandkids to do it. It may be frustrating in the moment, but once you teach them it will be much easier to stay connected.
Have a weekly video chat.
While phone calls are the staple of long-distance grandparenting, a video call is a good next step up. Not only does it require minimal technology use, but it also allows the grandparents to see the grandkids, which is sure to put a smile on their faces. If you can, schedule a weekly call so you all have it on your calendars and don’t have to wrangle everyone’s schedules at the last minute. If you can’t manage every week, aim for twice a month instead.
Host an online game night.
Play your favorite card or board games virtually with a multiplayer app. To lessen the learning curve, you should probably choose a game that you all have already played in real life, so you’re not trying to learn the rules of the game and navigate the online format at once. Many classic games, from Pictionary to Settlers of Catan, are available in digital form as well as physical. And if your grandparents are really saving, you can get them into Animal Crossing and visit each other’s islands.
Do a puzzle together.
Putting together a puzzle is a classic activity to do on a weekend at grandma’s house. You can recreate the experience online thanks to multiplayer jigsaw puzzles. Pick an easy one to get started, or challenge yourself with a 1,000-piece picture. If your family has a competitive streak, you can forgo the collaborative puzzles and instead race against each other to see who can complete the puzzle first. And the best thing is that you don’t have to destroy your virtual masterpiece when you’re finished.
Cook or craft virtually.
Many of the activities that grandkids and grandparents bond over—baking cookies, doing finger painting—are tough to replicate virtually. This isn’t to say that it’s impossible, however. You can each gather materials in your own separate homes and cook or craft together over a video call. The grandkids can also make things on their own and call the grandparents to act as expert consultants on their projects. Get creative and experiment with your favorite activities to see if you can recreate them virtually. And if the price of supplies is a concern, you can always use Staples coupons to help offset the cost.
Read a book together.
If you’re exhausted from reading the same picture book for the 10,000th time, ask the grandparents if they’d be willing to host a virtual reading hour over a video call. If your kids are a bit older and have grown past reading together out loud, you can create a mini book club instead. Read the assigned chapters on your own each week and then schedule a weekly or bimonthly call to discuss them. If you have a budding reader who’s proud of their newly developed ability to read on their own, this is a great way to encourage the habit while still staying connected.
Schedule a story time session.
No doubt the grandparents have many entertaining stories that the kids have never heard before. If your kids love storytelling but are less interested in books, have the grandparents sit down with them for a good old-fashioned yarn spinning. Ask them to share stories from their lives that they want the grandkids to know, or funny tales they heard when they were kids. Who knows? You might learn something about the grandparents that you never knew before!
Interview the grandparents.
If your kids don’t have the patience to sit through a long storytelling session, you can make things more interactive by asking them to play journalist. Help them decide what they want to know and brainstorm questions to ask the grandparents, like “What pets did you have growing up?” or “What was your favorite trip you ever took?” If your kids are a bit older, you can ask them to record the interview or take notes, write up an article of their grandparents’ lives and share it with them as a keepsake.
Have a socially distanced meet-up.
If your grandparents live nearby, you might be able to arrange a socially distanced meeting at a park or similar location as restrictions lift. Make sure to wear masks and stay at least six feet apart. Before you commit to this, think carefully about whether or not you can take reasonable precautions. For example, if your grandparents are extremely high-risk individuals, you might not want to chance it. And if your kids are too young to understand why they can see grandma but not hug her, it might be easier to keep things virtual for the time being.
Stay connected with grandparents virtually, thanks to these ten creative activities.
Taylor Sicard serves as the Co-Founder and CMO of Homesick, a hand-poured candle company that offers specialized scents to invoke feelings of nostalgia. Taylor is responsible for overseeing the planning, development and execution of all Homesick marketing and content initiatives. When he is not working or writing, Taylor enjoys spending time with his fiancé and exploring the great outdoors!