With all the social distancing and quarantining because of the coronavirus (COVID-19), grandmas and grandpas across the country have been told they should steer clear of their beloved grandchildren for the time being. It may be heartbreaking to think about not being able to stop by and hug the grandkids, but according to the CDC, older individuals are at a higher risk of catching the virus and developing more serious symptoms. They recommend “postponing visits or trips to see older family members and grandparents” and for families to “connect virtually or by writing letters and sending via mail.”
As any seasoned long-distance grandparent can tell you, care packages and regular video calls are nice. But it can be difficult to keep a youngster’s attention while in the same room with them, let alone through a device, so it helps to get a little creative.
Take a look below for a few fun ideas you can use to stay connected with your grandchildren and let them know you’re sending lots of love while spending this time apart from each other.
Be Their Study Buddy
Parents are suddenly finding themselves taking on a new gig as their homebound children’s substitute teacher — and would probably (more like, definitely) take all the help they can get. Have them set up a video call with you during homework time to help talk your grandkids through whatever they’re working on. Even if you don’t know the answers to a tricky math problem or how to translate phrases into Spanish, you can still provide a morale boost while he or she figures them out (and give mom or dad a much-appreciated break). Who knows, you might learn something new along the way, too!
If you really want to take it up a notch, you can add a “family history” course to their schedule and teach them about their ancestry with some pop quizzes.
Challenge Them to a Puzzle Race
This is as easy as buying a few of the same puzzles for you and your grandkids to enjoy some friendly competition. It works great whether you’re doing them in real time together over a video call or working on larger puzzles that can span days and keeping each other updated with calls and texted photos. This will help keep your minds sharp, too! There are obviously a ton of options to go with, depending on their age and how many pieces you want per puzzle (click here for some of our favorites!). We also like the idea of giving it a more personal touch with a customized photo puzzle ($16.49 [Originally $32.98], Shutterfly).
This idea can also work with board games, like sending each other pics of checkers moves or Scrabble words. Sure, there are mobile game apps that do similar things, but this approach grounds each game or challenge in a more real-life way that helps you feel like you’re all still in the room together.
Send Personalized Coloring Pages
Even grumpy teens can’t deny the calming effect of tapping into their creative side and filling out coloring pages with crayons, colored pencils, or whatever art supplies they have on hand. Going the extra mile to get blank pieces made from your family photos ($10, Etsy) will take things up a notch and make each one so much more special — even if the youngsters color outside of the lines. You can also include pre-stamped envelopes for them to mail back the finished artwork so you can proudly display them all on your fridge!
Let Them Give You a Makeover
If filling out physical paper doesn’t appeal to your grandkids, or they just want more fun ways to use their imaginations, you can exchange online makeovers on websites like Mary Kay. Just upload photos of each other and get as silly or chic as you’d like! You can wait to see the end results after the virtual transformations are complete, or include a video call while your grandkids work on your makeover to see all the laughs they have along the way — or how seriously they take it! Who knows, they might uncover the perfect shade of lipstick or eyeshadow you’ve been missing out on all these years.
Teach Them Your Favorite Recipes
Have you been meaning to pass along your recipes to your grandkids, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet? Now’s the time! It will again require some assistance from your own kid or in-law to set up a video call in the kitchen, which will allow you to guide them all through the dishes you’ve maybe relied on in the past to help food stretch through tough times, too. That, or or just some of your favorite comforting recipes that will help them feel like you’re giving them a culinary hug!
You can also turn this into another friendly competition with your own at-home versions of cooking shows like the Great British Bake Off or Chopped. You’ll be keeping their bellies filled, their minds entertained, and helping them learn new kitchen skills.
Now that we’ve got the ball rolling, you can brainstorm even more engaging ways to connect with your loved ones while we wait for the all clear to let us spend more time together. Remember, just because we have to stay physically apart doesn’t mean our hearts have to feel far away.
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