Grandparents are amazing. Seriously, they love your kids as much as (okay sometimes more than) they love you. The relationship between the two generations is an important one. So, how do you make it work when your kid’s grands are across the country? Technology, my mamas. Technology is what it’s all about.
Now, I know there’s a lot of controversy surrounding children and screen time, but let’s be honest—sometimes screens are necessary. I’m not just talking about when your babe is in epic meltdown mode at the grocery store. I’m referring to when that screen holds the face of their Grammy, Grampy, Grandma, or Papa—half a country away. It’s definitely worth it.
I was 8 months pregnant when we moved to Nashville, and my parents—as much as they were thrilled for us beginning our new chapter—were NOT thrilled at the prospect of their first grandchild being so dang far away. My mother’s parents lived in Florida while we lived in California, and we saw them once a year, sometimes twice for special occasions. It was tough on us as kids, never really feeling 100% connected to our grandparents, but I think it was tougher on my grandparents who didn’t get to feel like they were part of our upbringing. I was worried about the distance creating that disconnect for my own family—especially since my mother and I are extremely close.
But times are different than they were 20-25 years ago. (Shoot, they’re even different than they were five years ago…) We have some things now that my grandparents didn’t have when I was growing up. Flights are cheaper, it’s easier to travel more often, and we have…technology. We benefit from major technological advances that make it way easier to communicate on a daily basis. So, when we decided we were moving, we did what anyone in our generation does: we amped up the Apple products. (Disclaimer: I know there are other products out there and that tons of people don’t use Apple. This isn’t an advertisement or a plug; it’s just what worked for our family.)
My parents were due for new phones, so we upgraded them to the newest iPhones and made sure they knew how to use them properly. (Did you know the Apple store offers classes?!) My dad even figured out how to post photos to Facebook from his phone. Which he does. All. The. Time. We taught them how to use FaceTime on their desktop, laptop, and iPads, and we got them Apple TV. Apple TV allows them to mirror from their phones, so they could FaceTime with us on their 40-whatever-inch TV and feel like we were in the room with them.
It’s been a year since we’ve moved here. Our son is now almost 11 months old. My parents have come to visit 3 times, and we’ve traveled back twice. Our baby boy is an epic flyer—but really, technology has been invaluable in keeping us connected. We FaceTime with my parents every morning as they get ready for work. The two hour time change works in our favor. Holden knows the sound of the ring tone and will drop whatever he’s playing with to come and make an appearance on the screen. If he’s having a meltdown, I can call my mom, and she’ll talk to him on the screen and he calms down. Truly, it’s (grand)parenting at it’s finest. He recognizes his grandparents’ faces and will smile and talk to them on the screen. When they came to visit a few weeks ago, he knew right away who they were and had no problem adjusting to their presence. After they left, when we FaceTimed, he would look behind the phone as if he couldn’t tell why they weren’t standing there.
I’m grateful for this technology, and even though it doesn’t take the place of a face-to-face relationships, it definitely helps to bridge the distance between our two states. Holden is a lucky kid to grow up with his grandparents—even if they’re not right next door. I’m thankful that he gets to benefit from their relationship—off-screen and on.