While there are plenty of nice things about living here in Massachusetts, one negative for me is that we are at least 1,000 miles away from nearly all family members (save for my beloved sister-in-law). Not only do we lack the extra helping hands on a regular basis, but it is distressing that my kids don’t really know their grandparents very well. Even harder is, the few times a year that we do manage to see them, there’s always that element of the kids having to warm back up to these relative strangers.
Well, in preparation for our most recent trip to Florida, I decided my kids would benefit if I took a page from LauraC and did what I could to familiarize them with people and things ahead of time. I printed out some photos of grandparents and other folks we’d see, as well as some pictures of the pool and the ocean. I put them in an inexpensive photo book and we “read” it every night for the week before we left. Between that, and stepping up the frequency of Skype sessions, there was much less adjustment and stranger anxiety with my 18-month-olds and a whole pack of eager relatives.
When we got home, I started thinking… I wanted to reinforce these relationships they’d built up, and reinforce memories of the fun we’d had (and, um, mostly forget about the fact that they were both sick the entire time). Plus, despite the fact that I’ve taken many thousands of photos since they were born, I have almost none printed to hold in my hands.
From now on, I’ve decided, I will print a photo book after every major event/vacation. I simply use iPhoto, and can even write up the “story” beneath all of the pictures. Another book to read with the kids, some photos saved for posterity, and the added bonus of trying to reinforce the earliest beginnings of memories. Sounds like a win to me.
Does it work? Well, my mother-in-law came to visit this weekend, arriving late Friday night. She went in to get the kids when they woke up Saturday morning, and my sometimes-wary toddlers were absolutely thrilled to see her. Bonus!
What about you? Do you have far-flung family and friends? How do you encourage young ones to remember the people and places that you don’t see as often?