Keeping the Extended Family Involved

How to keep the extended family involved even when they don’t live here

Extended Family

By Aimee Roseborrough, owner of Bend Moms for Moms

Many of us are transplants to Bend (myself included, I’ve been here four glorious years). As a mother of two children, I like to keep our extended family as involved as possible in my kids’ lives. But since my children’s grandparents and extended family live throughout the United States, they can’t just pop around the corner for a quick visit, or to babysit for an afternoon.
There are, however, plenty of ways to stay in touch, and to keep your extended family part of your children’s lives.

Old School: Write Letters!
Even if your family is tech savvy, letters are an easy and fun form of communication. My children’s grandparents send cards for most holidays, and the kids love it. If your kids are too young to write letters back, have them make artwork to send extended family members—it is sure to be treasured.

Another great idea is to keep a photo album of extended family members. Soft sided photo albums are available so even the youngest member of your family can enjoy the photos. Extended family can periodically send pictures to add to the albums. Mail may be “old school,” but it provides real, tactile, treasured memories for children and extended relatives.

21st Century Communication
For tech-savvy relatives, Skype, Facetime and Google Hangouts are great options. Skype allows free video calls from computer to computer, and is downloadable for free, at Skype.com. Both parties will need to download and install the software on their laptop or mobile device, but it allows real-time interaction—and all the joy that facial expressions and tone of voice add to a conversation. If you have relatives overseas, Skype also provides low cost phone calls through your computer.
Facetime is an Apple product that allows video calls from any Apple device to any other Apple device. For instance, you can call from an iPhone to a Mac or an iPad to an iPhone, etc. Google offers a similar service called Google Hangouts. Even though this services have been around for years, they still feel as futuristic as Star Trek.

Text Messaging
We’ve found text messaging or emailing video messages to relatives to be a great way to send immediate “thank you’s.” It’s so nice for relatives to see and hear the children enjoying their presents—and a way to wash away some of those geographic differences and create an immediacy. Once your child is old enough to write, texting can be fun. My 7-year-old loves to text with her grandparents from my phone and especially to add emoticons!

In-Person Visits
Finally, the most expensive and time intensive option is, of course, a visit. Fortunately, we live in an inviting and fun place to visit. Although the Redmond airport is small, it is convenient and has many flight options. There are daily flights from Denver, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. Relatives can get here from just about anywhere within one or two stops. But as exciting as mountain excursions and river trips can be, one recommendation is to make sure to integrate visiting relatives into daily life: Let grandma and grandpa walk your young one to school. It helps make these visits seem not so much like vacations, but part of normal life. And, if they come visit and love Bend, there’s always the chance they’ll move out here!

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