Most of the articles here on Long-Distance Life are geared toward giving advice for couples, but there are all kinds of long-distance relationships. Some of you might be looking for ways to keep in touch with kids—your nieces or nephews, or maybe even your own children, if you’ve had to move for work or following a divorce. So, what are some special ways you can keep in touch with the children in your life, even if you’re far apart?
Kids don’t always have strong concepts of distance and geography, particularly if they’re young, and this might mean they don’t understand why you can’t attend their birthday party when you’re two flights away. One fun way to help kids understand where you live is to send them a puzzle map. For example, a puzzle of the United States can provide a visual representation of how far apart you are if you live in Washington and your nephew lives in Florida.
Kids also love getting mail, so snail mail is a great way to keep in touch. You can send little gifts such as dollar-store toys, sketches, and coloring books, or just mail a quick note or postcard. You might even consider signing the child up for a magazine subscription, so she gets mail from you regularly every month—and the two of you can talk about her favorite stories from the magazine when you chat over the phone.
If you have a visit planned, consider mailing a printout of that month’s calendar with the date of your visit circled on it, and include stickers or a stamp so the child can mark off the days until you’ll see each other. A good way to explain to kids how soon you’ll arrive is to phrase it in terms of how many “sleeps” there are until the visit. Sometimes kids can’t quite grasp how long a week is, but they can imagine going to sleep and waking up seven times.
And of course, webcam chats are a great way to stay in touch, just as they are for adults. And you can easily play games with kids on sites like Yahoo Games. Here are some other tips from past Long-Distance Life articles that you could modify and apply to staying in touch with a child: