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10 ways to stay in touch with long-distance family

New technologies (and some old fashioned creativity) make it easier than ever to connect with far away loved ones.

10 ways to stay in touch with long-distance family

In the United States today, millions of children grow up hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles away from their grandparents and extended family members. But as new technologies (and some old fashioned creativity) make it easier than ever to connect with those who are far away, more families are finding innovative ways to share life and love across the miles.


Here are our 10 favorite ways to stay in touch with loved ones far away:

Touchnote provides effortless postcard and greeting card sending from your computer, mobile, or tablet. No need to visit the post office or buy a stamp. Buy a single card or a package of postcards and Touchnote will ship your personalized cards directly to family. Aren't you thoughtful!

Create a Kindred Prints photo booklet in a few taps on your smartphone. Every month you'll pull recent photos from your phone, Facebook and Instagram accounts. You can quickly select your favorite ones and approve the order. Kindred does the rest! Voila!

Hallmark features a recordable storybook, allowing you to record your own voice reading a story to a family member far away.

Create a Smash Book! The scrapbooking project for those of us that are less-than-perfect crafters. By embracing the imperfect, Smash Books make it easy to record memories and experiences in real time, so you can more easily remember and share memories.


Plan a StoryCorps intervieweither for over the phone, or for your next visit together. The organization, which records historical and personal interviews for posterity, has generated helpful suggestions for recording a conversation of your own, depending on the person you're interviewing. StoryCorps has made it easy, but now you have to ask the questions!

Make a Little Box of Sunshine! Create a fun package to get your kids to do and send to family that lives far away. Who doesn't love a care package with happiness boxed inside? You can keep the contents simple, it's the thought that really counts.

Book special dates on FaceTime where Grandma/Grandpa/other family and friends reads your child a story before bed. Ask your child to pick out the book — you can even mail it in advance.

"Mail a hug": Trace your hands, measure your arm length from wrist to wrist, glue together. It's not quite as squeezy as a real one, but a mail hug will do until next time.

Send inexpensive plastic cameras to your family members and include pre-addressed, stamped padded envelopes for their easy return. Go old school and develop the film and have your child share stories of his or her adventures over the phone.

Turn a family photo into a puzzle using one of several online photo services. Spend the time talking about family members and memories while putting the pieces together. You're a family, whether the pieces are scattered around the country (or the world!), or all nestled in tight together.

In This Article

    14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    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.

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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