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How to be the favourite auntie when you live far away

05 April, 2017 8 Comments

How to be the favourite auntie when you live far away

A few years ago, I was living overseas and found it increasingly difficult to feel included and stay part of my niece and nephew's lives.  Time flies past so quickly, and the game that was really fun the last time I stayed?  By the next visit they didn't even want to know. 

Since then, I have come up with some activities to make sure we stay close to each other even if we may not always spend as much time together as I would like.

Here are some ideas you might find helpful for keeping up with your nieces / nephews / grandchildren if you are not able to see them as often as you would like either:

1. Persevere with FaceTime / Skype

persevere with FaceTime Skype

Small children can really struggle with phone-calls and video chat.  As frustrating as it may seem, though, each time you call and try to chat to them builds a little bit more familiarity, and the consistency will pay off eventually. You can eat lunch with them, show them the wildlife near you, or play peek-a-boo to engage with them.

Now that my oldest niece is 5, she will happily FaceTime me on her own from her parents' phones or iPad when they let her, and can chat away about what she has been up to and any exciting things going on.  It is a lovely feeling to know that I am the person she chooses to dial when she has something exciting to talk about, and we feel really connected even when far away. 

2. Share photos of what you are doing too

tell them what you're up to nieces and nephews far away

A shared folder, such as Dropbox or Photostream, can be a great way to stay in touch.  It is common for families to share lots of photos and videos of what the kids are up to for aunties, uncles and grandparents to see - but it can be just as rewarding for kids to see what you are up to too!

3. Build a scrapbook together

build a scrapbook with your nieces nephews

Sometimes taking things offline can help you to feel even closer to each other.  When she lived in Singapore, Sorcha gave her nephew (who lives in Germany) a scrapbook so they could feel more connected while so far apart.  She sent postcards and photos of all the things she was doing for her nephew to collect and keep in his scrapbook (and receiving 'real' post was a highlight for him!).  When they next saw each other it didn't feel as though nearly as much time had passed and it was a fun activity to go through the scrapbook together.

4. Find books that teach them about where you are

find books that teach your nieces nephews about where you are

Books are a great way for children to learn about new things in a fun environment. If you live in a different country you could send books that will help them to understand what it is like.  My friend Jenni from The Bear and the Fox blog puts together really handy lists of books around a theme that her children have enjoyed reading.  

Tip: A great place to buy books like these is Books and Pieces - Amanda also writes a blog on the website, which gives more great ideas and tips.

5. Send gifts that show you know who they are

gifts that show you know your nieces and nephews

Don't be that one aunt that always sends wildly inappropriate gifts - either far too young or far too old!

If you don't live close-by it can be really hard to know what gift will actually work, particularly when they are young.  If you are stuck for ideas, have a look here at our handy guides for kids up to 5 years old.  

Do you have any other tips to add to the list? Please leave them in a comment below - I'd love to read them!




8 Responses

Beth_BeSoBaby
Beth_BeSoBaby

10 April, 2017

Rachel – yes!! It’s so sweet when they get the hang of chatting to you on FaceTime. Sounds like your nephew is lucky to have such a great auntie. Good luck on the book hunt!

Beth_BeSoBaby
Beth_BeSoBaby

10 April, 2017

Louise – that’s so lovely that you were able to go the extra mile, and I’m sure this will be a memory that your niece will treasure

Beth_BeSoBaby
Beth_BeSoBaby

10 April, 2017

Michelle – Nothing beats spending time together if you are able to be there does it?!

Beth_BeSoBaby
Beth_BeSoBaby

10 April, 2017

Toby – that sounds great!

Rachel
Rachel

10 April, 2017

these are perfect! It was my nephew’s 2nd birthday yesterday, he’s in the UK and I’m currently in Vietnam (although I move around a lot. I sent a prezzie (good old Amazon) and even saw him opening it on FaceTime and he seemed really chuffed. He’s still so young that when I FaceTime he doesn’t always react to me speaking to him, but yesterday I got a kiss and a wave goodbye, yaaaaaay! I will need to try the book thing though, that would be amazing if I could find something.

Louise Mason
Louise Mason

10 April, 2017

Unfortunately I don’t have Facetime access to my niece but one birthday I did manage to send a video of me leaving her present at Grandad’s house. She was able to watch it before opening the present to understand who it actually came from and was delighted that the video was just for her. And it has definitely strengthened our bond, from mythical distant auntie to someone who cares enough to record a video just for her to watch.

Michelle Hughes
Michelle Hughes

10 April, 2017

Some lovely ideas even if you don’t live far away. My best fond childhood memories are of doing something with my relatives, so I really like scrapbook idea, something less digital based and that can be done together.

Toby
Toby

10 April, 2017

I was lucky to grow up having several aunties, but one in particular would always send me thoughtfully chosen books at christmas and doodles of cartoon characters she knew I liked. It always meant a lot to me – tips 4 and 5 are perfect.

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