Parents play a huge and important role in our lives. But what happens when you live so far away that they can’t be as present in our own children’s lives?
I have lived abroad for nearly 10 years. Moving countries wasn’t difficult. I was independent, benefiting from years away from home because of boarding school and University. I wanted a change and I had no fear. It was the easiest decision of my life. Its impact only really became clear when I decided to have children.
I quickly realised during the early days of parenting that you need help and support from those closest to you. I felt sad that my parents, sisters, brother in-laws, nieces and nephews in the UK would not be around to see my children grow up day-to-day and miss out on special moments like their birthdays and Christmas. I felt guilty for making that decision to live abroad.
But over the last two years I have come to accept that it doesn’t matter how far you are away from family. Distance will not break a bond. If you work at it, care for it and nurture it, you can watch it grow.
So in the lead up to Christmas as the distance begins to feel at its furthest, I thought I would share with you some of the things I do to keep in touch with family, making them feel that bit closer all the time!
1. FaceTime or Skype
The wonders of modern technology make contact during the busiest of days so much easier. FaceTime offers us the opportunity to share those special moments from bath times to birthdays. Most importantly, when my children see family face to face, they aren’t strangers.
2. Quality holidays
Take the time to go and see your family and treat it as a holiday. Make up for that time lost in between. Spend quality time with them exploring their local area, making more memories of the place you grew up, or where your parents live.
If you can, go further afield. Rent a house and all stay together. Make it a special time for family dinners; build those relationships right before your eyes.
We always spend Easter together in Conil. Half the time it’s pouring with rain as we go during the Easter holidays, but the memories are so special.
3. Make a family album
A family album can be opened up by the children, looked at before bedtime and at any time you talk about the family.
You can make your own handy family album, head over to my blog to see how!
Or, if you aren’t the creative type, why not buy either the Galt Soft Photo Album or the Tomy Discovery Forget Me Not Photo Album.
Both are perfect for little hands and available from DactaGalt.
4. Scrapbook your holidays so you have something to look back on.
Every holiday you have with grandparents, take pictures to build a scrap-book and keep it on your children’s shelves. Not only is it a great way to keep the children entertained, it is something to look at before bedtime and helps keep those special memories alive.
5. Send arts and crafts regularly
Sending your child’s arts and crafts to loved ones is always well received. It gives you a purpose on an afternoon, making birthday cards, Christmas cards or just random gifts. How about making placemats by laminating their artwork or fridge magnets, which you can then send as gifts.
6. Build a strong support network of friends
Friends are so important. It can also help to find a few that are in a similar situation. Be open with them. My close friends are like family to me. We support each other when it’s hard or offer an extra hand when it is needed and that listening ear.
7. Start a blog
Why not start a blog? A blog is great way to share life’s biggest adventures with others!
8. Use the Touchtone app or Moonpig
Send postcards or cards to family of their first swimming lesson, first day at nursery, birthdays or Christmases. It is perfect for letting people know you are thinking of them and making them feel included in those special moments.
To make it really easy, download the Touchtone app for iTunes. You can send postcards in seconds, right from your mobile!
Or there is always MoonPig.com a great place for cards and other gifts.
If you are sending Christmas cards of gifts this year, don’t forget it’s best to get them out nice and early! The Royal Gibraltar Post Office suggests that people wanting to send letters and parcels to the UK and Spain should do so no later than the 16th of December; for the rest of the EU, the 9th of December; and for the rest of the world, the 2nd of December.
9. Move to a beautiful place!
The benefits of living in Gibraltar mean that family are often dying to visit. After all, we are blessed with the sunshine, sea and great sangria! So make the most of where we live and invite the grandparents to stay.
Be warned though… if they aren’t used to the sun in November, you might well end up with them stripping to their pants in the Sunshine and sitting on your balcony. It’s terribly embarrassing….These brits ey!
So whilst there are still days I long to be sharing a roast dinner or popping in for a coffee with people who have played a major part in my life and that understand who I am and still (remarkably!!) love me, these tips help make the distance seem shorter.