I work my way through the house, grabbing random baby supplies I might have forgotten and shove them into reusable grocery bags while the boys run circles around me and use the furniture as gymnastics equipment.
The baby has already grown tired of waiting in her car seat and started fussing.
I feel frazzled and I haven’t even left the house yet. Do I have everything I need?
We’re on our way to another family gathering out of state with relatives that mean a lot to me, but my kids have seen only occasionally. In the days leading up to the event I worry that they will have no idea who all of these people are. They’ll act shy, not want to readily give hugs and kisses, and act like they have no idea who Aunt Sally is, because, well, they’ve seen her maybe 3 times in their whole life.
Someone will try to coerce them to just give her one hug, which we discourage because our kids are learning about consent.
Aunt Sally won’t understand and her feelings will be hurt.
Then I’ll have to hear about it every time we all get together and on phone conversations in between.
That’s how it’s typically gone in the past, but this time I think I’m finally prepared. Raising kids when you live far away from your relatives gives you a lot of practice in nurturing long distance relationships.
So I have been working with the kids on kindness and building and maintaining their relationships with out of state family, in between visits, by sending each other mail. This simple gesture fosters a lot of good will, and when relatives feel more connected with the kids, they seem more understanding that maybe a child was having a bad day and take any lack of affection less personally.
We’ve also made this picture book of our family, so the kids can start associating names with faces from a young age. Putting it together has been a fun way to connect and tell each other stories while we work and results in a great family keepsake too.
Here’s what you’ll need to make a book about your family:
- Photos of relatives
- Construction Paper
- Tape or Glue
- A hole punch and string
- A laminator if you’d like to make your book more durable
Over the summer I purchased this Polaroid Zip. It’s an inkless photo printer that lets you print 2×3 photos on special paper, from your mobile device. These small photos are perfect for this project; you can even peel the backs off and stick them to the paper.
Fold and cut each piece of construction paper in half. Write one person’s name on each page and have the kids stick photos of that relative to the paper. If you’d like, you can include some facts about that person and their favorite things on the opposite page. The older kids can get more involved by calling or writing to the relatives in advance to interview them and find out these facts, like their favorite color or ice cream flavor. Then your kids can decorate the pages.
When you’re finished, laminate the pages for durability. Punch holes down one side and secure the pages together with string, or just use one hole and a binder ring.
This project gives kids the opportunity to find things about about their relatives, put their findings together in a fun book, and then revisit the pictures often to remember names and faces. That way, when you finally see Aunt Sally again, the kids will have something to talk to her about and she’ll no longer feel like a stranger.
Amy Pessolano writes at Umbrella Tree Cafe where she shares tips on building strong connected familiesand raising creative, proactive kids with parents who strive to live intentionally while balancing the demands of life and business.