Staying in touch with friends who move away is always a challenge. Although social media can help by prompting you about birthdays and other special occasions, it’s a poor substitute for the kind of contact you might have had in the past. The problem can be even more acute if your children decide to relocate overseas.
Maintaining the right level of contact with them and your grandchildren can be extremely difficult and at times upsetting. If you have joined the long-distance mother club, here are some ways to make life a little easier.
Hide your pain
It's perfectly normal to feel upset or to want to cry when you first hear the news that your adult child is going to emigrate. It may be that they have a wonderful job opportunity or that they have fallen in love with someone who lives on the other side of the world. Whatever the reason, it is important to refrain from making them feel any guiltier about their decision than they likely already do.
Especially where grandchildren are involved, parents tend to assume they will always be able to easily have contact with them and you might feel as though you are being dumped.
The important thing in the first instance is to support your child and work out the best strategies for moving forward.
Make a regular date
With busy lives and different time zones, it can be all too easy to let contact slip by. Try establishing a regular schedule in which you sit down and have time to chat. This works especially well if time zones are challenging as both sides of the conversation can make sure they are happy with the slot. If you have grandchildren, try to schedule a regular slot once or twice a week where you read them a bedtime story over a video call just before they go to sleep.
This will not only strengthen your relationships with your children and grandchildren but will also reinforce the idea that you are part of the family.
Send little surprises
The ease with which message can be sent via email or text means that more traditional forms of communication have taken a back seat, but there is something very magical about having something drop through your letter box that no electronic media can compete with. Pre-printed postcards are all very well but if you take your own photographs and then turn them into real-life postcards, you’ll make a far greater impact.
Embrace your new freedom
Many parents suffer from empty nest syndrome when their children first move away from home, but if your child has been living nearby and then decides to move overseas, you may find yourself suffering a second bout of the condition.
As it's likely you have at least some notice of your children planning to move overseas, you can use this to make sure you prepare yourself in advance and have plenty of activities to keep you occupied so that you feel the loss less keenly. If you had a regular activity you participated in with your children or a regular day of the week that you visited, make sure you fill this time with something equally joyful so that you're not simply left alone dwelling on the fact that your children are no nearby.