How do you stay in touch with your nieces and nephews if they don't live nearby? We asked one of our good friends and inspirational aunties to tell us her story.
If you follow us on Instagram, you might remember we posted about our friend SherryAnn, a very proud auntie, who lives and works in Singapore.
She doesn't see her nieces and nephews as regularly as she would like, but still manages to stay an active part of their lives every day even when she's far away:
What is your relationship like with your nieces and nephews?
I have 2 nieces and 2 nephews, Tish (9), Uri (4 and half), Hannah (3), and Simeon (1 and half). When we all get together our home is total chaos, in a good way! As soon as I am around, my nieces and nephews respective parents would relax and leave the kids to me - they consider me a natural baby sitter and all the kids flock to me.
Hello, 4 active kids to play with non-stop is a real work out! I remember telling the kids we should do some stretching and cool down moves every after game, but I cry for help only after about good 2 hours of play.
How often do you see your nieces and nephews?
I live and work in Singapore, and since my brother moved to Papua New Guinea for work assignments, I rarely see the kids. The usual every 3 months is now almost once a year. When Tish, Uri and Hannah left, I quietly cried (or say wept) at the airport.
I see my other nephew more often as he's based in the Philippines, and thought he would be enough to fill the gap. But, while he provides love and entertainment and affection to me, the other 3 little munchkins in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are deeply missed.
How do you stay close to your nieces and nephews when you don't see them as often?
I watch our videos together over and over again. I’ll stare at their photos when I am resting. Unfortunately, internet in countries like PNG is expensive and inefficient. Skype, FaceTime or any form of video calls are not possible, both in Manila or PNG. Creating a family group chat through Facebook messenger became a necessity and pictures sent every day is never too many. We are all in different time zones, it works for us at least.
I shared my fears with my brother that I’m scared the kids won’t remember me anymore. They grow up so fast, meeting new friends and creating a new family environment overseas, it’s possible they will forget me.
My brother and his wife decided to deliberately mention the names of the family every day at their home. My name, as Tita (Aunt in Filipino) Ann is actually a household name! Tita Ann is more popular than the Lola (Grandmother) and Lolo (Grandfather)! Tita Ann is happy!!!! It helps that my name is the easiest, even the youngest Hannah who cannot talk yet can mention my name, Ann! So I am cool with that being the famous Aunt who they mention every day at home.
How else do you make sure your nieces and nephews remember you?
I’ll send photos of me cooking, or running, or anything in our group chat and they will send back photos too.
When they left, Tish (she was 8 at the time) took a world map I gave to her. She carried it the whole trip so that it didn't get crumpled in her bag! I travel for work quite a bit so now she follows me on her map. When Tita Ann is in the UK – Tish goes to her map and checks where the UK is. I’ll text them that I am in Scotland, and she’ll circle her map on the wall where Scotland is! She knows PNG is quite far from all these places, but she knows that the world is small and one day she’ll see these places too.
Keeping in touch is never difficult in this day and age where technology helps us be together. I plan to visit them once a year, so right now I have been collecting crafts, artworks and fun games to do together when I visit. No gift delivery options yet in PNG, so I guess I have to deliver it myself. Tita Ann, the doting Aunt will be visiting soon. I can hear their screams from PNG to Singapore. I can imagine, it will be amazing.
Thank you Tita Ann - We kindof wish you were our auntie now too!
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