November 3, 2013

Keeping Connections Strong when Distance is Far

Hello readers of Cropped Stories! I'm Alicia and I blog over at A Sweet Fragrance. My family and I are American-born but live as expats over in SE Asia. I blog about our life overseas, recipes I attempt to make while substituting lots of ingredients, projects I do around the house, "tot school" lessons I teach to my toddler, and lessons I learn through parenting and walking with the Lord. I hope you'll stop by my blog for a visit!

Once little ones start making their appearance on the family tree, it really changes the dynamic of the whole family. It's so much fun to watch a little newborn grow and learn new things every single day. Before you know it, they become a little toddling 2-year old with what seems to be a permanent bruise on their forehead, then they quickly turn into a little kid that says "the darndest things." Because of all these frequent milestones, growth spurts, and developments, it can make being away from children really difficult. Whether you're separated from a child because of a business trip, a weekend conference, or because you're a relative that lives far away, there are still ways to make sure the child (or children) stay connected and close, no matter the distance.


My desire to stay connected with my family really began to grow when we moved to the other side of the world. Our situation is somewhat unique but you don't have to live a world apart from your family to be able to relate to the old saying, "distance makes the heart grow fonder." According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly 60 percent of married-couple households with children have two working parents. I know this was true for my own family when I was growing up. For my dad, this meant work-related travel. I have many memories of waiting for him to come home and eagerly asking, "What did you bring me?!" I was partly excited because of the actual gift, but another part of me was excited to know that this gift he brought home to me came from "far away" (even if it was only one or two states away).
Today, technology truly makes the world feel smaller. Our little family is no stranger to taking advantage of every possible way to stay close and connected to those who are far away. Since it's something I'm accustomed to, I want to share a few ways that you can feel close to loved ones when the distance between you is far.

1. Create a YouTube channel where videos can be uploaded for your child to watch. If you are a parent that travels, you can record small videos with your phone or camera while traveling. Upload the videos to your YouTube channel and then your child can see what you've been up to. If you're a grandparent, you can record yourself reading a storybook that your grandchild has at their house. This way, anytime a child wants to be read a bedtime story by Grandma or Grandpa, all he/she has to do is request that Mom or Dad opens up the YouTube channel. You could also record yourself singing your child/grandchild's favorite songs.

2. Invest in some recordable storybooks. Recording and uploading videos onto YouTube might not be for everyone. Another option that's just as sincere and heartfelt is purchasing recordable children's storybooks. My son loves listening to the storybooks that both of his grandmothers have recorded for him. Every time I open up one of the books and he hears one of their voices, he turns and looks at me with the biggest grin. While this makes the perfect gift for grandparents to give to their grandchildren, it's also a great idea for a mom and/or dad to prepare ahead of time so that the child can still have a bedtime story read to him/her while a parent is away for travel.

3. Get yourself a travel buddy. Buy yourself and your child the same stuffed animal. You can pretend the two are siblings. Take one with you on your travels and take photos of your little travel buddy and all the adventures it has while on a trip with you. Email the photos so that your child can enjoy the adventures with you (and share the photos with the stuffed animal's sibling). An even quicker option would be uploading the photos directly to a photo feed, like Instagram. My sister actually did something similar with a Curious George doll as she and my parents made their way over to visit us. I was able to show my son the photos of all the things Curious George was up to as he traveled halfway across the world. The photos on Instagram even made some of my friends start anticipating the moment when Curious George and my son finally got to "meet". Who doesn't love seeing a cute stuffed animal with chopsticks??
When distance separates you from the ones you love, especially your children, you can start to feel guilty for not being there or missing out on the special moments. Not everyone can be a stay-at-home parent or live close to their relatives, but that doesn't mean you can't keep the connections strong between you, your child, and the rest of the family. It might take a little more effort on your part but the memories you make will be well worth it in the end.

What about you and your family? How do you stay connected when you're far away? How do you help make the distance seem not so far? I'd love to hear from you!

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Happy Monday and I hope you all had a fantastic weekend!


  1. My great aunt, who is my grandmother's youngest sister (since my grandmother passed away, she has taken on the role of great-grandmother to my girls), goes to Florida for the winter, we e-mail, she reads my blog daily and we try to Skype when we can too, because the girls (she too miss them) terribly. Great suggestions though and seriously thanks for sharing.

    1. That's great that you make the effort to keep your girls connected with their great-grandmother! It's amazing to think about how we managed to stay connected BEFORE technology and cell phones :-) Thanks for commenting Janine!

  2. Great post :)
    I'm moving soon, not to another country, but moving nonetheless, this was helpful. I think you have some great ideas here Alicia :)
    Thanks for sharing via Mommy Monday Elena!

    1. I'm glad you stopped by to read this post. I hope you're able to try these ideas out! Good luck with your move! :-)

  3. I move a lot being married to the military, relationships are hard enough without throwing moving into the mix. I have many resources I turn to to help me out, Wendy Brown has Why Love Succeeds or Fails, it's relationship based and her tips are brilliant. The things that you may not think about right off, those are sometimes the ones that make the difference. I recommend her book, It ca be very helpful!

    1. Saying goodbyes never gets easier, does it? Thanks for the book recommendation! I'm going to go check it out now :-)


  4. I'm going to have to try the stuffed animal one. It a really good idea that I'm sure any child would love!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Autumn! I think I enjoyed seeing Curious George's adventures just as much as my son did :-)


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