Keeping Up with the Grandparents

01 August 2013

From my last 2 posts, you can deduce that we're just returning from a trip to London. Yes, I got on a plane with 2 year old twins and flew 9 hours so we could hangout with their grandma, aunties and cousins. Why? Well let me share a little about me with you.

I'm Nigerian. I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria surrounded by cousins, aunties, uncles and grandparents. We didn't need an excuse to get together. Every summer, once school was out all the kids called each other and planned how we were going to spend our holidays in all the different homes. It wasn't unusual to sometimes have up to 10 of us kids in a house at a point in time. It was fun and it was taken for granted. Things have changed since then.

For a myriad of economic reasons, a lot of us have left Nigeria (home) for better jobs and lifestyles in the UK, US and Canada. The sacrifice of having to learn to abide in a new cultures pales in the face of watching our kids grow up without that family support structure we took for granted. So we have to do something about it. We have to be more intentional about the choices we make regarding kids and family. 

For our family we have made a few resolutions concerning this. One such resolution is for the kids to have a good relationship with their grandparents. The kicker? The grandparents all live in Nigeria and we are currently living in Calgary, Canada. More than a few miles separate us physically. 

Here's what we're doing to make it happen for us

  1. Make it a family goal: The TwinDad and I actually agreed that our kids having a relationship with our parents was a priority for us
  2. Set S.M.A.R.T objectives: Specific.Measurable.Achievable.Time-bound. Our S.M.A.R.T goal? The twins must see at least one of their grandparents every year. Either they come to us or we go to them
  3. Allocate the funds: Does your family have an annual budget? After taking care of the essentials on our annual family budget, the next priority is allocating the funds to cover the equivalent of a trip to Nigeria for all 4 of us. Sometimes this requires a bit of sacrifice; that's why it's good to set the goal first and make it priority.
  4. Allocate the resources: A means for video calling (I strongly recommend Apple's Facetime for video quality). Good home wifi. Have family members take pictures with the kids so the kids can look back and recognize they've always been the loved members of a family group. Make photo albums with family photos for the kids to look at and ask questions. Hang up photos on the wall so the kids see that extended family is part of their home. 
  5. Allocate the time: Set aside the time at regular intervals (weekly, fortnightly or monthly) for the video calls so the kids can put a face to the name. With the 7 hour time difference between Calgary and Lagos, we've found that weekends work best for us.
Grandma and her girlies

The perks? The joy that the grandparents and grand-kids have in each other's presence. As Visa would say, PRICELESS!

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