Grandparenting From a Distance :: Part Two


Grandparenting from a Distance Part 2

I previously wrote about how our family copes with living away from grandparents. The dialogue that my post received was very inspiring as many people shared not only their struggles with being away from family, but how they stay in close contact with their loved ones using various forms of communication. While I’m not the most tech-savvy mom, I’m always open to discovering a new form of digital communication!

I polled our team of contributors to gather a list of communication apps. I hope these enhance your relationships with your family and encourage more involvement and closeness whether you live 5 miles or 500 miles from home:

iCloud Sharing

This is our main form of picture sharing from our iPhones. We created a family album to which we invited about 12 family members from all over the country. We post pictures and videos from big family events or everyday routines like bath time or playing outside. Our family can comment or like our photos and save them to their own computers. 

Marco Polo

I have to give credit to my sister-in-law for getting us into Marco Polo. It’s kind of like leaving a video voicemail on someone’s phone. They can watch the video whenever they want and respond with their own video. This is helpful for quick conversations that you don’t have time to type over text message. Or you can involve your kids and leave funny messages using voice alterations and text (our favorite is singing Christmas carols in a macho voice). My four-year-old has learned how to press start and stop so that she can take her own video for her grandparents. She thinks it’s funny to go back and watch her own videos too! Another cool feature is creating a group rather than leaving a message with just one person.


This is probably the most common form of digital conversations, but it shouldn’t be overlooked! While we may not think it’s a big deal, the grandparents are immensely grateful each time we call. They have told us how meaningful it is to interact with our kids and stay close. Our one-year-old loves FaceTime so much that each time we pull out the iPad, she yells “Gigi” or “Lala” (her nicknames for the grandmas). Seeing someone when they talk helps to reinforce that bond, especially for young children whose memories are not fully developed. Sometimes we schedule a FaceTime call and other times we call spur of the moment.


This app is new to me, but apparently it’s very popular for international calling/messaging and for kids. You can share messages, videos and photos without using your phone’s SMS fees from numerous devices, such as iPhone, laptop, iPad, and iPod. This app is highly secure so that no one in the middle (not even WhatsApp) can have access to your messages. It has many other features like voice messaging and document sharing! 


Nixplay is a digital frame company that allows you to display photos of your family for loved ones. You choose the size and style of your frame, then send photos and videos of your family using WiFi, SD card or a USB. It connects with both GoogleHome and Alexa to make photo streaming easier. You can share hundreds of photos and videos at one time! This is a great option for those grandparents who may not be the most tech-savvy (you know who they are).

Snail Mail

Last but certainly not least, I love receiving snail mail in the form of packages and letters. I hate that typing has taken precedent over penmanship, but that doesn’t mean it’s lost forever. We receive birthday presents and cards for almost every occasion. In return, I put drawings from my daughter’s school in the mail for her grandparents to keep. It makes sense to send them rather than keep all of them or discard them!

How do you stay connected your family? Any new apps that you like to use? Please share your thoughts!