Tips for Grandparents: making the most of video calls!

For many grandparents with grandchildren living too far away for Sunday lunch or weekly tea time, a weekly, fortnightly or monthly video call with the grandchildren is the most likely contact.

With mobile technology and the internet, it’s easy and cheap to have regular catch ups via Facetime, Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook video call, so it’s pretty easy to stay in touch and feel like you’re a virtual part of your grandchildren’s lives, even if you’re not physically nearby.

Sometimes, however, calls and video calls can be quite hard – for both parties – and you might need a little help making the most of those precious catch-ups.

Here are some great ideas to help you make your video calls fun and rewarding:

  • Virtual storytime – If you call around bedtime, why not read them a bedtime story yourself? You just need your children to set up the iPad or laptop in a good spot, so your grandchild can interact with you like they would if you were actually there in the room! Have a book ready and start to read. It works really well if they have the same book too – picked out the previous week. They choose a book, you nip to the library and borrow the same one.  Mum, dad or older sibling can help turn the page at the right time.  You could also make up stories and tell them to each other…
  • Granny’s Rhyme Time – while you’re on the phone or facetime, use rhyme time to make up silly poems. One of you starts with the first line, e.g. There was an old lady from Cork…, then the other has to add the second and so it goes on. This can be great fun and you can come up with some hilarious rhymes. Write them down and stick them in a book, so you’ll all be able to remember them.
  • SelfieXpression – in this day of selfies, have a weekly or monthly challenge to take 3 selfies e.g. with someone in uniform, by water, eating cake, upside down, with a strange shaped vegetable etc… You both have to have the same challenge, but your photos will all be different… There are no limits to your ideas and the photos you get back will be great! Show them to each other when you have your regular video call – it’s a great way you get to see each other’s reactions! Then you can swap them via email or message or combine them all to make your own special photo book that you can keep for whenever you need a giggle.
  • Wise Words – each week on your phone call or video call, take it in turns to pull 7 letters out of a scrabble bag (i.e. Granny selects the first week, grandson the second etc) and make sure you both have the same letters. Over the week, you try to come up with as many different words as you can. Reveal your words on next week’s call. If you want you can come up with prizes for the winner!
  • Daft Doodles – Each month, come up with a theme or a subject for your drawing task. It can be anything like the beach, cows, fairies, summer, clowns, grandad, kittens… Then send your drawings to each other or reveal them on your video call.
  • 7 things that happened this week – Keep a notebook in the kitchen. Over the week, remember to write down one thing each day so that when you come to have your video or phone call, you haven’t forgotten everything you’ve done. Encourage the kids to do the same (or their parents to do it for them). This can be done over any timeframe depending on how often you catch up.
  • What’s different? Every time you have a video call, have it in the same place – at the kitchen table, in the study, on the sofa etc, on your bed.  Every week change one visible thing and see if the others can guess what’s different!

Published for Wondrous Ink, August 2016: 

Categories Articles & features, Blog Posts, Parenting & Child Care

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