Staying Connected With Faraway Family

By Christine Knight

With my baby born in the States and my parents living in Sydney, Australia, I had to quickly figure out ways to help my mom and dad stay involved in their only grandchild’s life.

Thankfully, technology has advanced to a stage where it’s a lot easier for people to keep in close contact and even build relationships without being in the same room — or even continent.

Here are my favorite tools for building the foundation of a lasting relationship between my parents and my child:

Video Calls Over Skype. This is the number one tool we can’t live without. We have a set weekly Skype video call at 6pm our time, and 8am Sydney time. My parents enjoy singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to their grandchild as she eats Wher ever-expanding vocabulary.

While it’s difficult to draw a child’s attention to a screen without Thomas on it, my baby is now a 22-month-old toddler, who eagerly points at the laptop and asks to talk to “Nana” and “Pop Pop.” She enthusiastically waves hi to them, and blows kisses when they appear on the screen. As your child gets older and can understand what’s happening better, making the video calls an event to anticipate also helps your child to keep their grandparents in mind, even if they’re not around in person.

Online Photo Albums. I prefer SmugMug photo sharing because it also acts as another photo backup system. I put together monthly albums and fill them with the best shots of the month, then share the link to the album with my parents and other relatives either monthly, or whenever there are particular pics that I know they’ll want to see faster. I prefer this method to emailing photos, as it keeps your email account capacity lower without the huge images clogging it up.

YouTube Video Channel. I take lots of little videos of my daughter and upload them to my private YouTube channel, then share them with family. Videos are great for capturing moments that are hard to experience over Skype calls —such as adorable baby babble, baby’s first time in a swing or bites of solid food. If you keep your smartphone handy, it’s so easy to quickly pull it out and shoot just a minute or two of video that your family will play over and over again. For sharing short videos, try Vine or the new Instagram video feature. Both are really easy to simply shoot and share.

All-in-one Apps. There are a bunch of apps for your phone that make day-to-day sharing easy. Personally, I enjoy using Tiny Beans. Each family member downloads the app onto their smartphone. After creating the gallery within the app, send family members an invitation to share your updates. Your family will automatically be able to see any photos or notes you upload to the app, without you having to constantly email links to new pics and videos.

Christine Knight is an Australian expat and mother of one enthusiastic toddler. Now living in Brooklyn, NY, she is co-founder of, a site dedicated to helping parents navigate the NYC and Sydney food scenes with their offspring.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.