How to be a good ‘physically-distanced’ grandparent

Stay (emotionally) close with your grandchildren, while maintaining good (physical) distance

Our own Bill VanGorder, Chief Policy Officer pro tem, recently created a list of ways seniors can be the best grandparent they can be, while following the important guidelines of physical distancing during COVID-19.

Bill also gave an interview on the subject, which you can watch here.

16 practical ways to be a good physically-distanced grandparent during the COVID-19 crisis

If you don’t have internet access, most of these suggestions can be done over the phone.

  1. Learn to use Facetime or Skype on your phone or computer so you can watch a show or movie on one while video chatting on the other simultaneously.
  2. Set up specific times to visit online so your grandchildren have those to look forward to—kids like and need structure in these “covid-irregular” times.
  3. Do simple fitness activities like chair yoga, stretches, walking on the spot etc. together, electronically.
  4. Schedule shows, movies and other programs you will watch together and chat about, e.g. start watching a TV show or movie at the same time and chat on another device while watching, or after, so it’s a shared experience. If you only have phone access, watch the movie or TV ahead of time and then discuss.
  5. Help your grandchildren write fun letters and take photos to send to other relatives.
  6. Read a book to them over the phone or online.
  7. Ask them to make collections (such as similar toys, or old photos or other household handy items) as a sort of a Treasure Hunt.
  8. Download books for a virtual age-appropriate book club discussion.
  9. Listen to music with them and have them explain their music preferences to you.
  10. If they are older, ask them to do errands like shopping for you (if they are nearby). Make them feel wanted and useful.
  11. Show an interest and help with their school work.
  12. Ask about and discuss their world of sports, e.g. what they are missing and how they think their favourite sports will rebound when the pandemic is under control.
  13. Send your grandchildren a parcel every other week. You could include a craft to be done together with a parent, some ‘homework ‘ fun pages, homemade cookies, etc. Never send them the same day; keep them wondering when it will arrive and don’t tell when or what is in it.
  14. Share recipes by texting pictures back and forth of what you have created. Make it a fun contest on baking/cooking a variety of different things.
  15. Write down a favourite made-up story and share it as you would a book. Works for both kids and grandparents who have been in the habit of making up stories.
  16. Watch the online kitchen parties that are full of singing and dancing together and showing support for front-line workers and support staff. Watch them together by telephone or online.

Do you have another suggestion that has worked for you?  Help us build our list! Email your ideas to [email protected]