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Becoming a long-distance grandparent broke my heart—at first

They will always remember their Nana, and distance can’t change that.

Becoming a long-distance grandparent broke my heart—at first

It was a year ago in September when my daughter said, “Mom, I got a job in Massachusetts. We’re moving next month.”


I was in a state of shock. My daughter, her husband, and my 6-year-old grandson were moving almost 2000 miles away to the east coast.

I never thought she or my grandson would leave Colorado, leave me.

I made an entry into my journal that day. It was a combination of emotions—mainly self-pity and grief—as I tried to figure out what would fill the void that would surely befall.

I suddenly had a realization that everything was about to change.

Who will decorate the Christmas tree with me?

Who will help me plant my garden and then pick out the fresh vegetables for dinner?

Who will be there to lift my spirits when I need a good laugh?

Sure there will be phone calls and emails, but the distance would remain. I wondered how I would go on without the joy of my grandchild filling the house.

Now here we are, a year later.

I just got back from spending a week visiting my grandson and it was so wonderful to see him again—to snuggle and bond with him.

But this morning, as I spent alone time in reflection, it occurred to me that I am feeling the empty nest syndrome, not just as a parent, but as a grandparent. I think it was something that my daughter said a few days ago that hit me.

I asked her, “Do you miss it here?” She said no, that she has a new home now. This isn’t home to her anymore and she has no desire to come back.

How can that be?

It was your home and it still is to me. Selfishly I was hoping she wouldn’t like it there and would come back…that my grandson would come back.

When it dawned on me that I was feeling the empty nest syndrome as a grandparent, I got online to try to find anything on the topic and found out I’m not the only grandparent feeling this way.

I found blogs of people writing about their feelings of bereavement after their grandchildren moved away, and many like me babysat their grandchildren from the time they were an infant or toddler and went from seeing them several times a week to once a year.

It was comforting to me to know that I’m not alone in what I feel and that there really is an empty nest syndrome as a grandparent.

What I also realized is that as parents, we encourage our children to become independent adults and then (especially in our culture), many of our children move far away from home because of jobs or various other reasons.

I moved many miles away from home when I became an adult. Why shouldn’t I expect that of my children?

Now I’m a long-distance, widowed grandma. I went from being able to see my grandson several times a week to four times a year (and I’m grateful it’s that often).

I still wonder…Will he remember our times we had together?

Will we lose the close bond we had?

But then I think on the past week I just spent with him, it was like old times.

I took him to and from school, drove him to sports practice, read books with him, tucked him into bed at night, said prayers with him and we even played football (yes, 63 year-old grandmas can still play football).

And when I asked him if he remembers our times together at my house too he said, “Nana, of course, don’t you remember when I helped you cook green beans from your garden in the frying pan for breakfast?”

“I sure do,” I said with a laugh.

I may be a long-distance grandma, but I realized I can still be an important part of my grandson’s life, even if it is only four times a year. And I’m learning acceptance. Children grow up and grandchildren grow up.

But they will always remember their Nana, and distance can’t change that.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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