It wasn’t until I became an adult and got married that I realized just how important it is to maintain relationships with my family. In my case, a long distance relationship with family. I no longer have a parent reminding me to call my grandparents on their birthdays or to send thank you cards when I receive a present in the mail. There’s no one there to make sure I spend time with my sisters or check in with my parents every now and then. It’s all on me now and over the years, my family has become more and more important to me. Especially these last three years since my parents separated.
I am so fortunate to have such an amazing and supportive family back home both on my side as well as Zack’s. We’re so loved and they’re always there for us whenever we need them. I’d hate to be one of those people who doesn’t have a relationship with their family and it saddens me when I see so many people on Facebook who have issues with their parents or their siblings or in-laws. When your family lives miles away, it can be hard to maintain a long distance relationship with them. Long distance relationships are hard, in general. But here’s how you can make your long distance relationship with them a little easier.
Make the time to call them
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I talk to my family each week. I’m always on the phone with at least one of them. I call my dad and stepmom constantly for advice on pregnancy, my career, school, life, marriage, cooking. If advice is needed, I’m on the phone with them asking about it. I also make it a priority to call and connect with my sisters as well. My sister, Alex just switched high schools and is about to graduate in May so she’s always stressed over something. My sister, Hannah is the youngest of the bunch and she’s always up to something or needing sisterly love and guidance. And then there’s Kendal who’s only a couple of years younger than me and has her own life so she’s a little more challenging to keep in touch with sometimes, but I make it happen every once in a while.
It’s not just parents and siblings that you need to be staying in touch with. Don’t forget about your grandparents as well. I call them about once a month to check in and see how they’re doing. Both my grandparents are now retired so they’re always off doing something nowadays. If you have aunts, uncles and cousins then be sure to reach out to them as well.
Keep them involved in important life updates
While our entire family is thousands of miles away, it can sometimes be harder to keep them all in the loop. Announcing our pregnancy resulted in about ten separate phone calls at 9 o’clock at night their time because we didn’t want anyone to be left out (although my sister, Alex knew about three days sooner than everyone else). I also make sure to post pictures on my personal Facebook so that they’re able to see what we’re doing here and many of them read my blog as well (that was actually the original reason why I started a blog!). I’ll also text them photos throughout the day and tell them about my week every time I call. If something big is happening here, they all know about it.
Use FaceTime to your advantage
You can use FaceTime or Skype or any other video messaging system that works for you and your family members. Our family is big on FaceTime. Two Christmases ago, we spent the afternoon on FaceTime with Zack’s side of the family so that we could open presents with them. It was my first Christmas away from family and our first together as a married couple in our own home. Zack also worked that morning so I wasn’t the happiest camper that day. Being able to FaceTime with family and be “present” with them helped so much. Then, for Thanksgiving this year, I FaceTimed with my whole side of the family and even took our family photos over FaceTime as well. Again, Zack was at work that whole morning so having my family “there” to keep me company while he was away made me feel so much better. Granted, I completely broke down crying when we hung up, but it was nice while it lasted. Technology is amazing these days so use it to your advantage!
Plan trips to see one another
Plans can be harder to make if you’re living a bit further away. Being 3,000 miles from our family, we have next to no plans to see them between now and when we move back to New England in 2018. BUT they are all planning to be here when the baby is born and I’m already very much looking forward to it. I haven’t seen them since my dad’s wedding in September and I’m already dying here without them. So it’ll be really nice to have them here for a bit so that they can see our new home and meet the baby. I’ll then be moving back home a year later before Zack gets out of the Marine Corps so it’ll be the perfect one and only visit while we’re here.
If you live close to your family, then it’ll be more doable to plan holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions that you don’t want to miss out on. You can even continue to plan family vacations with them and all meet up in the vacation destination so you never miss out on a trip. But it’s super important to make that effort to see one another. If you visit them for the holidays then maybe they can visit you at some point during the summer. Find a plan that works well for all of you! And having a trip planned, allows you to count down and get excited about the next visit.
How do you keep in touch with long-distance family members?