The Aftermath of Grandma’s Visit


On a good day, we live 12 hours away from our family. Driving to the airport, endless security lines, flying time, layovers, delays, and a missed connection here or there all add up to making travel to visit us a big pain. With no direct flight to our city, most people don’t even want to venture the trip. So when we have visitors, it is a big deal—especially if that visitor is Grandma. Leading up to Grandma’s visit, there is always a lot of hype from the countdown of how many days until she arrives, what exciting plans we have in store, and if every airplane that flies above contains the woman my 2-year-old want to desperately see.

Living so far from family, we’ve tried to help our son develop relationships with his grandparents, aunts, and uncles by using available technology. We FaceTime, Skype, and for his birthday last year, we hosted a virtual Google Hangout birthday party with “guests” spanning three states. It was a celebratory BYOC event, a “bring your own cake” extravaganza. Between occasional in-person visits woven together with digital conversations, my son has managed to become quite attached.

Since we spend much of the time focusing on the excitement of the visit, we often don’t think too much about how our child will feel once Grandma is heading back to the home. As my son gets older, I see more and more how this impacts him and boy does it make you feel horrible. Thanks Mom! With the most recent visit, this was the first time I’ve heard my toddler articulate his feelings. As we walked the dog together the morning his Grandma was on the way back to the airport, he said to me, “I am sad.” As I picked up dog poop and heard these words, my heart broke into a million pieces.

In order to temper the inevitable cries and protests, here are a few things that worked well (this time):

  • My son’s grandmother left him a handwritten note and small present for the morning he left. As soon as he first asked for her, I shared this with him and he while it wasn’t the perfect substitute for her presence, it did distract him enough to avoid a flood of tears.
  • For the next couple of days, I showed him pictures & videos of the recent visit to remind my son of all the fun things he did with his Grandma.
  • As I dropped my son off at school the next morning, I gave him a small photo of our family to hold in his pocket. He liked to have this photo as a security item while he was “being left” again.
  • We have a calendar in our kitchen where I mark off each day as it completes. My son always wants to do it too. When he said asked for his Grandma, I showed him the calendar and when we will be seeing our family again for the holidays. I got him involved and excited by letting him mark off the days on the calendar.

While it is not easy living far from family, it does make the visits that much more enjoyable and memorable. We take time to do more special things together and perhaps, more opportunity to address our children’s feelings about separation.

Photo Credit: Peter Toscano on Flickr

Leah is a mom, entrepreneur, book and technology lover. She runs and has mastered the art of balancing her laptop, toddler, and an iced latte—at the same time.———————————————————————————————————————————————————————
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  1. It can be so hard after family leaves! I want to cry, too!

  2. the calendar is a good idea.

  3. It is so sad to have to watch family go!

  4. We are in the same situation. Almost as soon as grandma gets here my youngest son says “I’m going to miss you so much when you leave, Grammy.” We have such a good time when she’s here but when she leaves it’s heartbreaking. Next time she comes though, I’ll be trying out some of your tips. Hopefully they will help :)

  5. Thank you all for the comments! Rhonda, isn’t it heartbreaking!? If anyone has any other good tips, I’d love to hear them for our next grandma visit.


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