How to Help Kids Stay Connected to Far-Away Relatives

How to Help Kids Stay Connected to Far-Away Relatives

These fun monthly activities are great for keeping family bonds strong.

By Lorraine Allen

When I was a kid, we moved constantly because of my mother’s job. This was exciting, of course, but it was also hard because we didn’t get to see relatives often. We stayed in touch by writing lots of letters, and sending photos, drawings, and birthday packages, but these sometimes took months to arrive! Phone calls were expensive back then, so we had to keep them to a minimum. Happily, all that’s changed now, and no matter how spread out a family may be, there are many easy, fun, and fast ways to stay in close contact with distant relatives, so our kids can form close, lasting relationships with them, no matter where we all live. Here are some tips to help your family stay well connected:

1. Make a date. For each far away relative, pick a date of the month and make that a designated day to connect with them. For example, the first of each month might be “grandma day,” the fifteenth might be “auntie day,” and so on. Using the day of their birthday is an easy choice, and helps kids remember dates, too. Mail them a letter, drawing, card, or surprise together each month on that day.

2. Teach them technology. Help older relatives learn to use video chat so that kids can see them while they talk. This is especially helpful for the oldest and youngest family members who may not be able to travel, or have a hard time connecting faces to voices.. It’s also a nice way for grandparents to “see” their grandchildren grow up, from afar.

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3. Make it easy to write letters. Give kids stationery to write on (this can be as simple or as fancy as you – and they! – like), some envelopes, and an address book with phone numbers included. This way they can take the helm without needing much help from you, depending on their age. Encourage them to mail things regularly (monthly is great), and hopefully they will enjoy receiving lots of mail back, too.

4. Send care packages. Dispatch a small surprise, like little local treats or a postcard from a trip you’ve taken, to relatives far away.

5. Let their fingers do the talking. Share your devices so kids can text and email relatives, especially their younger counterparts, if they have something to share.


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6. Share important moments in an instant. Involve relatives in important events through video and photo messages. For example, our daughter loves singing and acting, and is always sad her cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles can’t be at her performances. So we record them and just send them via phone instantly. Our kid also loves to share quick photos whenever she loses a tooth, learns a new skill, or has other big news.

7. Celebrate together. On birthdays and holidays, unwrap gifts or make a toast through video chat so your family can still feel like you’ve all enjoyed a shared moment, despite the distance.

How do you help your kids bond with relatives who live far away?

Lorraine is a freelance parenting, health and food writer, and she shares her cooking adventures and family recipes at

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