My grandparenting journey

I started my grandparenting journey living near my grandkids. After transfers and out of state moves, I found myself living and working in an area that no longer had any grandkids nearby. I became a long-distance grandma.

After almost six months living nearby, my oldest grandson moved out of state. My second grandchild was born two years later. Her parents lived in our town for the next eight years before they moved out of state. My daughter already lived out of state when she began her family. My children went on to enlarge their families and now I have eleven grandkids, none of whom live nearby.

Over the years, I bonded well with the local grandchildren. I saw my out of state (and sometimes out of country) grandkids a couple of times a year. That was barely enough contact for them to be able to learn to know, like and trust me. I wasn’t satisfied with only knowing my local grandchildren. I wanted to know all of them. And I wanted them to know me. My journey as a grandparent needed to expand beyond my local community.

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My grandkids call me “Grams,” and I love them to pieces. Currently they range in age from three to fourteen. I want to be a significant part of their lives, but I don’t live near any of them. All of my grandkids are long distance from me as well as from one another. My grandparenting journey expanded literally into finding ways to connect with grandkids who lived in many different locations.

Getting them to know, like and trust me

We began to explore how to have meaningful relationships with our grandchildren, despite not living nearby. I began to enjoy phone conversations and sending them Marco Polo videos of interesting activities. It became more satisfying when they initiated contact with me.

Sawyer sent me a video of himself mastering the finger snap, I chuckled. Then I sent one back with my poor attempts to snap my fingers. I commiserated with Halle when she called to tell me that her horse bucked her off at the state fair, disqualifying her for the competition. And I cheered when Sydney sent me a video highlighting her home run, as well as a picture of her softball championship ring.

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When my husband and I retired from our respective careers (he was a pastor, and I was a nurse and nursing instructor), we moved out of our home of 24 years into a fifth-wheel camper. Now we travel between the states where our families live and spend three to four months hanging out with them. Even with this flexibility, I am always a long-distance grandma from most of my grandkids at any one time.

But it didn’t start out that way!

When I first became a grandma, it was hard to figure out how to fit into their world. Newborns need mama, not grandma. Plus they cried a lot when mama wasn’t around. Also, babysitting several grandkids at the same time was exhausting, not simple.

When the grandkids were younger, I put a lot of time into babysitting. I did childcare for almost three years to allow both parents to work full time. (Because I worked second shift as a floor nurse, I was available during the day for childcare.) I offered to step in wherever needed to make life easier for my adult children.

Sometimes when they went home to be with their parents, I was relieved to see them go. I felt guilty for not loving them enough to have them all the time.

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Babysitting was never the end goal.

I did the fun stuff, too. I wanted my grandkids to be pool safe. During one summer, I picked them up every day to spend an hour or two in the neighbor’s pool. I’ve hosted them for sleepovers. My husband and I have held a couple of “Cousins’ Camps”. We’ve taken them to the zoo and the museums, to plays and to concerts. We’ve pushed our grandkids on swings and played at parks. I wanted them to have amazing memories.

I wanted them to have more than just amazing memories.

My desire was to have a significant relationship with each of my grandkids. I understood that I needed to lay the groundwork for my relationship with them while they were little. Through time and effort began to figure out what they needed from me. I wanted them to know, like and trust me. Once I was able to establish a foundational relationship with them, I wanted to become a key influence in their lives. I wanted to be a significant part of helping them grow into healthy and productive adults. My goal was to help prepare them for life in a significant way

Our RV lifestyle has allowed up to deepen the relationships we have with our grandkids by allowing us focused time with them. But traveling in an RV isn’t a requirement for having a great relationship with your grandkids.

You don’t need an RV to build relationships with your long-distance grandkids

I bet you love your grandkids to pieces, too. You probably have put in a lot of babysitting hours. Grandparents help out where they can and fill in where needed. Grandparents want to build amazing memories for and with their grandkids. And grandparents want a significant relationship with their grandkids as they get older. We are all on our own grandparenting journey.

and that’s what grandkid toolbox is all about

For those of you who are new grandparents, I want to help you build a foundation of trust with your grandchild that will lay the groundwork for a deeper relationship with them as they get older. My goal is that your grandchild will know, like and trust you. I want to give you a vision of investing in your grandchild for his future as a productive and happy grownup, but also to do the building of the relationship now, so that later you will have a grandchild who talks to you regularly.

The goal is to build significant relationships

My credibility doesn’t come from being an expert on child development–though I worked as a nurse and a professional educator for over 20 years. My credibility comes from experience in raising four children to be productive, independent, and happy adults. It comes from being a pastor’s wife for 24 years and working with clients and their families in the hospital. I gained experience teaching adult students as a college instructor. I’ve been working closely with a variety of people for over forty years now.

And I am living out what I have learned about building relationships with my own grandkids–one grandchild at a time–one state at a time.

We are all on our own grandparent journey. We all want to have close and significant relationships with our grandkids whether we live far away from them, or just around the corner. Let’s work together and discover the strategies and tools that will work to give us the best relationship we can build.

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