It’s been a tough time for grandparents and their grandkids throughout the pandemic. Grandparents are in the more vulnerable age bracket, so it can be difficult to connect in person. With holidays coming up, that’s even more of a challenge, which is leaving many of us missing relatives or feeling lonely.
But don’t fret! Grandkids and their grandparents can still get in touch in a variety ways—both digital and analog—that will be (almost) like seeing them in person. And of course, these ideas work for uncles, aunts, and family friends, as well.
Make Video Calls
This one’s a given, and while you’ve probably had your fill of Zoom this the past year, video calls are one of the simplest way for kids and grandparents to see each other. Choose your favourite medium–whether Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger (or Kids Messenger), Skype, Houseparty, FaceTime, WhatsApp—they’re all free!
Set Up Video Lessons
This is the perfect opportunity for grandpa and grandma to show off their skills to a captive audience. Now, when there’s nothing but time, is the time for grandkids to learn a lesson over video chat: baking, basic repair…anything that Grandpa and Grandpa can share with the kids.
Schedule a Story Time
Setting up a regular story time—or joke time or sing-along time—via video chat or over the phone can be something for everyone to look forward to. Grandparents and kids get focused quality time and parents get time to themselves (or to get some work done). Grandma could read a goodnight story once a week. Or, Tuesday night could be grandpa’s joke night. And right now would be a perfect time to sing carols together…apart.
Text or Message
An unexpected text from kids “just because” is a sure way to warm a grandparent’s heart and there’s no pressure for kids to talk, which can be a struggle. Send a drawing, a joke, or just a quick “I miss you/I love you”. Or, you could even send a short voice memo.
Have a Viewing Party
Does Grandma want to watch your annual Christmas flick with you? Is it finally time for your inaugural viewing of Grandpa’s favourite classic film? Use Teleparty to set up a viewing party using Netflix, Disney+, or HBO and watch a movie while chatting in the comments in real time.
Play Online Games
You may not be together, but that doesn’t mean that game night has to mothballed. While grandparents might not be up for multiplayer gaming, there are simpler options like online chess, Scrabble Go, Uno With Friends, Skribbl.io, and many other games that grandparents and grandchildren can play together.
Send an Email
Fill Grandma and Grandpa’s inbox with pictures the kids’ latest masterpieces, send a video to be played over and over, record some audio with their songs and stories, or just get them to write some cheerful greetings.
Make a Shared Playlist
Want to catch the grandparents up on the latest hits? Or maybe hipster grandpa wants to fill the kids in on his favourite tunes? Create a playlist on Spotify and think of each other while you’re listening to the music.
Start a Private YouTube Channel
We usually spend time trying to get the kids off Youtube, but if they make a private channel that only parents and grandparents are privy to, they can create content like animations, videos of them being goofy, private piano recitals, and more of the things that everyone’s missing during the pandemic.
Post To a Private Facebook Group
If you all just want to check in every so often, why not create a private Facebook Group just for family? Post updates, photos, jokes, and gifs. You could even count down to the holidays together!
Become your grandma’s pen pal! Most grandparents are very impressed to receive a handwritten card or letter, and appreciate their grandchildren making the extra effort to put something down on paper. There’s a personalization that you don’t get in email, and cards and letters can be saved and pulled out later to reminisce on.
In the same vein as cards and letters, why not create some mailable art? Grandma and Grandpa will have something to stick proudly on the fridge and the kids’ craft time can have an end game.
You may not be able to visit, but if you live close, you could drive by the grandparents’ house. Give them a honk to let them know you’re thinking of them. Or even get out of the car and wave at the end of the walkway. It will be hard not to engage in some hugging, but seeing each other in person could be the push you need to make it to the end of this quarantine.
Make a connection by enjoying the same things at the same time. Make plans to watch the stars/planets/Northern Lights at a certain time. Start a book or movie club and read/watch the same stories. Do you both knit or crochet? Do you like clay work or découpage? Plan a time when kids and grandparents can work on things together and/or discuss and show progress and results afterward.
Create a Family Project
It’s the perfect time to begin a family project! Kids can put together the family story while there’s a bit more downtime at home. Ask grandparents about their childhood and work together to build a family tree.
Dedicate a Song
Remember radio? It still exists! And grandparents likely still listen to it. Surprise grandma or grandpa with a dedication over the radio. Let them know how much they’re loved, and let everyone else listening know too! Dedicate a song on their favourite station and let them know through the airwaves that you’re thinking of them.
Deliver Something Special
Help local vendors while sending a loving message to grandma and grandpa. Send flowers or goodies through store delivery. What a lovely surprise to receive an unexpected treat.