Grandparents need contact with grandchildren during pandemic

Maintain Relationships With Grandchildren During COVID-19 Pandemic

Maintain Relationships With Grandchildren During COVID-19 Pandemic.

Older adults and those with underlying health conditions are at greater risk of serious complications if they become ill with COVID-19. This has led many older Americans to choose to stay home and avoid contact with others—even their own extended families—to prevent possible exposure to the virus. 

Social distancing is hard on everyone, but it can be especially heartbreaking to grandparents who miss their grandchildren and feel they are missing out on watching them grow and being part of their lives. And now more than ever, children and teens need the support of trusted, loving adults in their lives. So what can grandparents do to keep the grandparent-grandchild bond strong while social distancing?

Tips for virtual visits

While phone calls and video chats are no replacement for hugs and precious time together in person, they can be one of the best ways to stay connected and be a part of your grandchildren’s lives while social distancing. Here are some ways to make these calls more meaningful:

  • If you are tech-savvy, do a video chat instead of a phone call.  You’ll feel more connected when you see one another’s faces and reactions, and it allows you to see them grow. Try FaceTime, Zoom, WhatsApp or Google Duo, to name a few.
  • Include the little ones. Recent research shows that even children as young as 1 and 2 years old can develop a social connection from someone they see and talk with via a video call. 
  • Talk regularly. If you used to see each other weekly, plan to talk weekly. This gives both you and your grandchildren something to look forward to. Schedule a time to talk when you all can relax. 
  • Prepare for your chat. With some advance planning, you can do an art activity together, cook a recipe together or play a game. Send a care package with craft supplies for an upcoming activity together.
  • Read a story. Choose longer books for older children and read a section each time you call. 
  • Do a stress buster. School closings, feelings of isolation and other factors related to the virus have caused stress and anxiety for many children. Walk your grandchildren through one or more of these stress busters from Save the Children.
  • Interview each other. Write a list of 10 questions to ask your grandchildren and have them do the same for you. 
  • Share stories about your life. Get out the photo album and show the grandchildren pictures of their parents when they were kids.

Tips for in-person visits

After weighing their personal risk, some grandparents will decide to see their grandchildren in person. Take these suggestions from the CDC to stay as safe as possible:

  • Plan something outdoors, such as a walk or a meeting on a porch. The outdoors is generally safer than indoors. Consider activities where social distancing can be maintained, like sidewalk chalk art or yard games.
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds at the beginning and end of the visit. If soap and water are not readily available, such as with outdoor visits or activities, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. 
  • Stay six feet apart from others. 
  • Wear a face covering that covers your nose and mouth. Ask grandchildren over 2 years old to wear one, too.
  • Avoid close contact. For example, don’t shake hands, elbow bump or hug. 

Remember that open communication with your loved ones is key. Communicate ground rules with your adult children in advance of any in-person visit. Do not assume that family members have the same comfort level as you—if something concerns you about your safety, let them know.