To those living the active-duty military experience, life is typically a revolving door of different homes and environments. And since Grandma and Grandpa can’t exactly pick up and follow you around the country (as much as they’d like to) we need to find ways to keep connected.

For military kids, extended family represents who they are and where they’re from. Therefore, having these people involved in their lives may help them grow into more confident, well-adjusted adults. Thankfully, there are many methods, both old and new, of preserving these precious relationships. Here are a few creative ways to keep kids connected to grandparents from any distance.

Dust off your Forever Stamps

As “snail mail” fades from common use, military families should be stocking up on stamps and envelopes. Everyone loves to receive handwritten sentiments and for grandparents, any crayon scribble from their cuties is majorly thrilling. If you really want to spread the love, commit to sending one special package per month back home to Ma and Pa. Art projects, letters, and schoolwork all make perfectly acceptable correspondence. Plus, mail is not very expensive, not that you could put a price on custom grandchild art anyhow.

Keeping Kids Connected To Grandparents When The Military Takes You Away

Skype All the Time

Or Facebook Messenger Chat. Or Marco Polo. Whichever service best suits Gramp’s technological know-how is the one you should go with. We know that using video chat seems like an obvious way to keep kids connected to grandparents, but we want you to take it beyond tabletop small talk. Bring your folks along to soccer practice. Have them read your kiddos a bedtime story. Why not share a meal together over the airwaves?

Get crazy and set up checkers so that they can play a game together while still worlds apart. We encourage you to push the boundaries of the ordinary here to create truly special relationships. Don’t let a messy kitchen or half-dressed kids hinder you from making the call either. But don’t forget about the time difference!

Keeping Kids Connected To Grandparents Marisahowenstinevia Unsplash

Fly Home for FREE

Space-Available (or Space-A) is the name of a special military privilege that allows personnel to use unfilled aircraft space to fly all over the world for free. Now, this sounds like the ideal way to get to Grandma’s house. But here’s the catch: the booking process is far from simple. There are several stipulations to consider, including the fact that the military member must take leave and travel with the family (or be deployed). You would also have to make sure that all of the proper documentation is readied. These are just a few of the factors that make these flights unlike any other you’ve taken. Check here for more on how to catch these free flights for that long-awaited taste of Grandma’s chicken noodle soup. If you are up for this level of complexity, you could save thousands of dollars per visit!

Try Something New, Together

We bet you’ve always wanted to plant a vegetable garden. Or maybe you’ve thought of attempting a pumpkin cheesecake (here’s an awesome recipe by the way). Find an activity that is unknown and interesting to all parties and go at it collaboratively, reporting back to one another over the phone. Choose an experimental project such as creating homemade, killer cleaning solutions or a more adventurous one, like metal detecting. Grandkids and grandparents will grow from the experience and make special memories to revisit together far into the future.

Keeping Kids Connected To Grandparents When The Military Takes You Away Marisamcdonaldphotography

Interview Each Other

How well do you all really know one other? We bet that over the years, many things about both kids and grandparents alike have gone unmentioned. To address these gaps, hold a Get-to-Know-Ya questionnaire night. Not only will energetic little ones be more likely to stay engaged in the conversation, but all involved will get to grow closer. Starter questions like, “What skill would you like to master?” and “What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?” allow for conversation to blossom without feeling like you’re being grilled. Here’s a comprehensive list of great questions so that you never run out!

We are forever grateful for video chats and other modern marvels that make it so much easier to keep kids connected to grandparents when they must be apart. The solutions are simple, but both parties must agree to routine interactions like these to establish a meaningful connection. Even if you already have great relationships with distant family, try one or two of these strategies to see the bonds grow even stronger.

Check out this article on How Not to Hate Military Life

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Photos: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen, Marisa Mcdonald Photography, Marisa Howenstine

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