Like many people in the Madison area, my husband and I are transplants. We moved here so my husband could go to graduate school, then he got a great job and here we’ve stayed! Both of our families live out of state and while I have always had periods of homesickness and missing my family, things were magnified when we had our little one. I am very close to my family and my husband’s parents (I know, I’m one of the lucky ones!). I was also fortunate enough to grow up around my extended family and have great relationships with them to this day. So, HOW was I going to ensure my child would know their family if we were the only ones in Wisconsin?! Turns out we aren’t alone and technology is in our favor 😉 If you are raising kids away from your extended family, there are many things you can do to help keep your child and your family members connected.
1. Take advantage of technology: Our first choice is to use Skype or FaceTime (or something along those lines). This is super convenient because it’s an option that most of us can do with our phones or computers right at home. I’ve heard a really nice idea of grandparents reading stories to their grand kids over the computer, which is an especially nice idea for those who are a bit too little to have a full conversation.
Sending photos and videos over the phone and email is easier than ever. Making sure to send pictures back and forth regularly is something that makes everyone feel good. It’s really easy to send a quick text of the new toothy (or tooth-less) smile or a special day at school.
Social media is also a very popular way of keeping in touch with family who is far away. If you are comfortable posting photos of your children online, this is a very convenient option.
2. Use Photos: Having a photo book with photos of your family is another thing we have in our home. I made one on Shutterfly so that it has more of a story book feel and we keep it with our other books. It’s nice because our daughter can look through it on her own as well as with us and it helps her to put faces to names. It has a photo of everyone in our family and our closest friends (who are more like Aunts and Uncles) with their names. You could also use a little photo album of your own and put photos in it, doesn’t have to be anything fancy!
Here is a link to a blog where the author goes through several photo book companies if you aren’t the DIY type.
3. Snail Mail: Taking the time for your kids to make something special for grandparents and other family members. I know that my parents and in-laws love receiving handwritten ‘notes’ from their granddaughter. Sometimes for holdiays she makes little crafts for them. They also send notes and packages to her, which is so fun, because she loves to get her own mail!
4. Travel: This is an obvious one, but so important! Take advantage of every opportunity you have to spend time with out of town family. I have become savvy at knowing the cheapest times to fly back home (for instance, some months are much, much cheaper to fly).