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Celebrating special occasions abroad without your family

Celebrating special occasions abroad without your family

By: Marcia Cantu

Celebrating special occasions like birthdays, holidays and celebrations  abroad without your family?… Here’s what you can do.

Keep the traditions even when you are abroad

I’ve been living away from my home country Mexico since 2011 so as you can imagine I haven’t celebrated many special occasions with my family since. The first year or two we either had family come visit or we went and visited them.  

Back then we didn’t have children yet, so we never thought much about missing something. When we had babies of our own it kind of hit us that we would rarely have the photos of grandparents holding them or memories of everyone including uncles, cousins, brothers, and sisters sharing special moments 

Not only that, but when you live in a different country, whether you are married to a person of a different nationality or the same as yours, you also have to take into consideration the traditions and how the holidays are celebrated where you live. 

Since the beginning of my motherhood journey, two things have been very clear to me: first is to share my faith with my kids and therefore look for a church to be part of and have them grow in it. Second, for my kids to grow up  as ‘Mexican’ as they can, because that’s part of who they are. Another very important thing for me is that my children get to feel loved and a part of a bigger community even if they don’t get to see them and live with them on a daily basis. 

So, around the special occasions like birthdays and holiday season, I have found ways to incorporate all the things I mentioned above and I want to share this with you in case you are struggling to find a way to celebrate and be happy even if you are not close with your loved ones.

Tips to feel connected with your roots and family at a distance

If you are the family living in a foreign country here are somethings you can do:

1. Forge your own traditions early on: 

For example, for Christmas we have this tradition of reading Christmas books from Dec 1st to the 24th. We incorporate a new one every year too, so our Christmas collection is growing and maybe when they grow up they can take some for their own children and so on.

2. Create new family traditions

For example, we also have pancakes for breakfast on the 25th of December every year. For the past two or three years we’ve had the same meal on Christmas day and also on New Year’s. We actually started a new tradition during the pandemic and have a dance party in our living room for New Year’s and the kids look forward to it. We go big on setting the environment and everything and love every second of it.

3. Send gifts:

I always make sure to send gifts to my nephews and my niece for their birthdays and for Christmas too. I know this is material, but it’s one of the only ways I can make sure they know they have an aunt and an uncle and cousins who love them on the other side of the world.

4. Make sure the most important elements of your celebration take place.

For example, in Mexican culture, we have posadas, which are parties before Christmas. There is a piñata, and food, songs, and many more things. When my son was one, I wanted for him to experience this so I went into a group of moms and asked if they’d like to organize one. There was an amazing response and we’ve continued that ever since. So, my kids know what a posada is and that for me is amazing because they aren’t in Mexico to experience them.

5. Visit them:

If it is within budget and many other factors are in place, make an effort to spend at least a holiday with them. We have visited maybe only once during the holiday season mostly because of the school or work schedule so we always try and go when we can go for a longer time mostly during the summer.

For family in the home country.

1. Make sure to do something for your loved ones know you are thinking of them:

Maybe send a card with time, send flowers, post a photo… there are so many digital things you can do to connect with your loved ones who don’t live in the same place as you.

2. If it is within your budget, send a gift, especially to the kids:

It will prompt a response for them to thank you and connect over how much they enjoyed the gift. There is probably an amazon in every country so it’s not that difficult to do this. It also will promote for you to get to know your family who is not with you, because you will need to get to know them. I ask my nephews what they want for Christmas or their birthdays and it makes us talk about cars and trucks and things they like so I feel like I know them.

3. Visit them:

Especially because probably there will be so many new things from the place they live in that will only add to the amazing memories you will create. Our family has visited us about 5 or 6 times out of the 11 years abroad and we
really go out in making sure they have a great time.

The importance of online communication between family

For both sides: Remember to (video) call your family abroad. Make your children aware that there is a family in a different country that loves them and wishes to spend this special day or holiday with them. We always call my grandfather and my husband’s grandmother too. We call our siblings and parents and wish them a happy birthday or holiday. Sometimes an aunt or cousin makes an appearance too and we love that they get to see the kids and the kids get to know them too. 

The Peekabond app is perfect for sending loving video messages and pictures between children and loved ones who are far away. It’s different compared to FaceTime and WhatsApp because it has all sorts of playful ideas on how to interact, and it even lets you record a response whilst watching a video. So you can wish your relative a happy birthday in a video, and they can record their response whilst watching that video. You can download the Peekabond app for free here:

So, as you can see there are many things you can do so that you can feel close to your family whether you are the one who went far away from home or your family moved away. I hope you can feel close to your loved ones no matter where you are.

About Marcia:

Marcia is  a Mexican woman, wife, and mom of a boy and a girl, who has been recently relocated back from the USA to the Netherlands due to her husband’s job. Together they have been living abroad since 2011 in three different countries and expect to continue doing so in the future since they love adventure and traveling, making friends, learning new cultures, and exploring the world.

She is a former elementary school teacher, recently graduated from a Masters in Education specialized in Literacy and also
certified in TESOL (Teaching English to Students of other Languages) as well as completed a course in Conscious Discipline and she would love to keep learning more about how the child’s brain works concerning language and socio-emotional learning.

Marcia has many interests, including education, multiculturalism, and bilingualism. She enjoy working on crafts with her children as a hobby,  loves crochet, painting, cooking, and baking, for which she is also certified  and specializes in cupcake cakes in many shapes and decorations. Her friends say that she is a woman with many talents and she just loves putting them into practice with the people she loves.

Join Us at Peekabond

Peekabond is an interactive video messaging app designed for young children to connect with family at a distance. Use our fun and age-appropriate activity cards as inspiration to send video messages to young grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews. Create, share, and safely store playful moments with your family and friends. Perfect for parents who want their kids to create memories with far away family members and friends. If you would like to try Peekabond click here


2023 Up & Coming Granfluencers Every Grandparent Should Follow

These are the grandparents we think you should follow in 2023

By: Anieke Lamers

It can be hard to create bonds with family when they are far away–especially for grandparents. But with a new wave of senior influencers–otherwise known as granfluencers– taking over our feeds, social media has become a refuge for web-savvy seniors. For grandparents feeling the strain of being away from loved ones, it can be comforting to get a little inspiration and a few encouraging words from other grandparents who are going through the same thing. 

Since Peekabond started, I have been following some of these granfluencers through social media. I recently reached out to some of them to ask, “Why is it important for you to help your grandchild build a bond with family?” and “What value or skills would you like to leave behind to your grandchildren”?

Here is what they said:

Greg Payne
(4, 3 and 1 -year-old grandkids)

I am the host of The Cool Grandpa Podcast. I also have a children’s book titled “My Grandpa’s Grandpa”.

1. Why is it important for you to build bonds with your grandchildren? So they know me as a person and so we can build a relationship where distance does not matter.

2. What value or skills would you like to leave behind to your grandchildren? Self-worth, creativity, outdoor skills, practical life skills, and a sense of adventure.

Why we like him:

Peekabond has known Greg for a while and we love his energy, his blogs and how he talks to grandparents. He is also a writer and a speaker in The Cool Grandpa Podcast where he touches on different subjects from business and humour to grandparents and kids. Check it out! 

Greg is an amazing grandparent. He cares about his family and in transmitting good values that will stick with his grandchildren for a lifetime.

Helen Ellis
(6, 8, 20, 20, 22, 23-year-old grandkids)

I live in New Zealand and five out of my six grandchildren live a 16-30 hour plane ride away in America, England and Scotland.


1. Why is it important for you to build bonds with grandchildren? All children deserve grandparents. As Distance Grandparents it is our role to foster these distance relationships as best as we can, within our current circumstances. Never feel that geographical separation will cause you to be distant. It is just different.

2. What value or skills would you like to leave behind to your grandchildren? Grandchildren may not say much but over the years they are quietly taking in how their distant grandparents “do” distance familying. Were they encouraging cheerleaders or nitpicking grumblers? Did they exit a long plane journey with a grateful smile or full of moans and groans? Were they tricky to be around or fun and easy? I want to set an example of how to get along with family and how to make the most of the circumstances, all while graciously accepting what I can and can’t control about life.

Why we like her:

Hellen is a woman of many talents. She is the author of two great books where she talks about the difficulties of being a grandmother at a distance and of being a son or a daughter at a distance. This is something that she understands personally as a grandmother who lives away from her loved ones. Hellen helps families in this kind of situation through her organisation On her website you can find her books and all of her wonderful and encouraging words.

Bridie murphy

1. Why is it important for you to build bonds with  grandchildren? I believe building bonds with my grandchildren is good for the soul.

2. What value or skills would you like to leave behind to your grandchildren? A love of nature, self confidence and consideration for others.

Why we like her:

Bridie loves photography and to capture memories in pictures. Her Instagram has all types of amazing pictures. Our favourite pictures are the ones that show the love for her family. She also has a talent for taking natural pictures of people and houses that transport you to that special moment. They are just beautiful.

Bridie has her own photography page where you can book a session with her or just enjoy her amazing work.

Kathy Buckworth
(2 & 1-year-old grandkids)

I host a weekly radio show and podcast called Go-To Grandma

1. Why is it important for you to build bonds with grandchildren? I want my grandchildren to always remember knowing me.

2. What value or skills would you like to leave behind to your grandchildren?  Fitness, movement, reading, humor.

Why we like her:

Kathy is a host, creator and writer of the Go-To Grandma radio show and podcast where she encourages listeners to “Enjoy their grand journey.” She is also the author of six parenting books and two novels. We love the content on Kathy’s page. She gives great tips for parents and grandparents and shares about her life. We also love her blog where she talks more about the challenges and opportunities that grandparents face today. Check it out! Kathy’s Instagram is just a snapshot of this amazing woman. Give her a follow and learn more about this Grandma who has it all going on!

Kelly Cornelsen
( 3-year-old & 5-months-old grandkids)


As I age, I am learning to pay attention to the important things and not to worry so much about the little things that I can’t control. 

I hope I can pour love into my grandchildren’s hearts so they will always carry it with them and never doubt how special and wanted they are. It is such a bonus to live geographically close to them. Should that change, my purpose will remain to continue to build relationships with them that will last all of time.

1. Why is it important for you to build bonds with grandchildren?  It is so important. My desire is to build a healthy and happy relationship that will last throughout time and to create happy memories after I am gone. We just moved to live closer to our grands so we can be part of their lives.

2. What value or skills would you like to leave behind to your grandchildren? I want to instil in them that they are loved and accepted. I hope to encourage them in their natural talents and gifts and to be their biggest cheerleader in life as they get older. It is such a joy and privilege to be part of their lives and is a privilege I don’t take lightly.

Why we like her:

Kelly is a grandmother who is passionate about a range of things like food, jewellery, but most of all, family. She likes to share bits of her life and beautiful quotes that encourage us to have a great day and learn about family values. Kelly is also an animal lover and likes to take pictures of insects, dogs and nature. We love her energy and how much love she shows for the little ones in her family!

Anna-Katharina Ince
(11 grandkids)


My grandkids are the best thing that ever happened to me. I have 11 grandkids ranging from teenager to baby and I have an incredible bond with each and every one of them. They are all very unique and not the same at all. 

Why we like her:

Anna is all about family. She has 11 grandkids and absolutely loves them. Her profile is full of beautiful pictures of her days spent with family. Anna knows the importance of being connected with family–a passion that Peekabond also shares!

Carolyn Berry
(2, 5, 7, 8, 9,  and 10-year-old grandkids)

Grandparents are so important for children to know and love. Forming bonds with grandparents–even from a distance–gives children a sense of identity. Those bonds grow deeper when grandparents and grandchildren can learn from each other and teach each other life’s lessons.

Why we like her:

Carolyn has 6 grandkids and is an awesome grandma and business woman. She hosts a podcast called   Adventures with grammy where she talks about the experiences of being a grandparent and shares helpful tips for parents and grandparents on how to do life with kids. She also loves to share her family adventures with her grandkids. Peekabond has even been invited as a guest on her podcast!


Tammy Treece-Rosales
(10, 9, 8, 5, 3,  and 2-year-old grandkids)


I am a 55 year old woman who has begun a new career in, praying to lift up other women as I have been lifted up through my coach, mentor, family and friends. I love being involved in organisations that not only give back but empower others to change the trajectory of their lives. Thank you for the opportunity. I believe it truly takes a village. That is why I bought my home next door to my son. My grands can literally walk across the yard to my home.

Why we like her:

Tammy is a beautiful grandmother who likes to take care of herself. She is the founder of Grands2parents-Grandparents. We love her lifestyle and her entrepreneurial spirit in starting a business at 55 yrs old. She likes to share about her experiences as well as tips for raising grandchildren and getting the perfect look

Teresa Kindred
(40, 37, 35, and 31-year-old)

It is important for me to help my grandchildren build bonds with family because relationships matter more than anything else.

Why we like her:

Teresa is a Christian Nana that shares tips on how to raise grandchildren and recipes from her grandmother’s kitchen. She loves her family and God

About Anieke:

Anieke is the Founder and CEO of Peekabond. Anieke founded Peekabond from a personal passion because she is an aunt of two little nieces in Australia. She immediately began searching for alternative ways to bond remotely with her little niece. But she couldn’t find a real solution, so she made it her mission to create the best digital platform possible. To build beautiful bonds across generations, continents, and cultures. To connect with or follow Anieke click here 

Join us at Peekabond

Peekabond is an interactive video messaging app designed for young children to connect with family at a distance. Use our fun and age-appropriate activity cards as inspiration to send video messages to young grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews. Create, share, and safely store playful moments with your family and friends. Perfect for parents who want their kids to create memories with far away family members and friends. If you would like to try Peekabond click here


11 Fun and Useful Apps for Expat Families in 2022

11 Fun and Useful Apps for Families in 2022 by Vincent van de Noord

Do you ever feel like your family is missing out on the life of your child? I know I do. When I was young, I saw my grandparents often because they lived very close by. Naturally, we developed a very strong and loving bond.

Nowadays, my family is living further apart. My son can’t hop on his bike to see his grandparents, so we need other ways to stay in touch. Luckily, almost everything can be done virtually these days. We’re still waiting for technology but kisses and hugs, but my son is saving them up for the moments my family is together in real life.

Finding the right apps can be a chore. We know because we sorted through many of them. To help you, we’ve made a list of 11 apps that you could use. Some are free, but most are freemium (you can try it out, but have to pay to take full advantage of the app).

Each of these apps offers something different and can help you build a virtual connection with your family. So that when you are together in real life, it will be as if you were never apart.

We’ve sorted them into categories. Let’s dive in!

The best video calling apps

For live video calls, these are great options.

FaceTime (free)

Apple’s video calling platform is great for live interaction with your family. You can use it on an iPad for an extra-large screen, and it offers funny animal filters that you can play around with.

It’s only available on Apple devices. You do have the challenge of finding the right time, and depending on the creativity of your family members it will be a conversation with the child or just the adults talking.

Zoom (freemium)

Zoom really took off during COVID. It works very well as a tool for video calls, but it’s built for business communication, so there is no playfulness unless you bring it yourself. The free option is limited to 40 minutes.


You can also use Google Meet, which is free to use.

The best messenger apps

If you want to send messages, these are the right apps for you.

Marco Polo (freemium)

Marco Polo is a great option if you want to have video chats with your family. It works by sending short videos back and forth, which makes it more suited to use for young children. It’s designed for close relationships and is relatively easy to use.

What it doesn’t offer is content or activities to get the conversation going. As a parent, you often still have to initiate the contact.

WhatsApp (free)

I don’t think this one needs an introduction. With approximately 2 billion (!) users, WhatsApp is the most popular mobile messenger app worldwide. It’s great to share messages, videos, and photos. You can also create a group for your family.

The downside is that it’s a very generic messenger built for adults, and your videos and photos are easily lost in your message history. And let’s not forget it’s owned by Meta (formally Facebook), a company that isn’t well known for its privacy standards.

Signal (free)

Signal is privacy friendly alternative to WhatsApp. It offers similar functionality, but its focus on security and privacy can make it a better choice for users concerned about their data (and of course, that should be everyone!).

Best photo & video sharing apps

If you primarily want to share photos and videos, these apps could be great for you.

Google Photos (freemium)

This is a popular platform where you can store and organize all your photos and videos and share them with your family. You get some free storage, if you need more you have to buy an additional subscription.

Google Photos offers a great photo-sharing platform. However, for some people (myself included), sharing private photos of my child with Google feels uncomfortable.

Tiny Beans (freemium)

Tiny Beans is a platform with lots of content for parents. They also offer an app that allows you to share photos of your child with your family and track their milestones.

It offers great ideas for parents, but they don’t facilitate two-way interaction between loved ones and a child. It’s perfect for keeping your family in the loop but less suited to building a relationship with loved ones.

Best family games

This is our favorite category. It’s not just sharing videos and messages, but really playing together. Being playful is important for a child’s development, and its also a lot of fun!

Together (freemium)

This is a family video chat focused on grandparents and grandchildren that lets you play little games and read books together in a video call. It offers games like chess, checkers, and memory. You can have 3 free calls, after that you will have to buy a subscription.

OK Play (freemium)

This is a bit of an odd one out because it’s not about connecting with loved ones remotely, but about playing games when you’re together. But because it’s also about creating a connection, I wanted to point this out as well. As a parent, definitely give it a try and play together with your child.

Caribu (freemium)

Caribu lets you do fun activities together in a video call. For instance, you can read a book or create a drawing together. You can start for free, but to make the most use of the app you will need a subscription.

It can make video calls more engaging and playful, but you still have to find the right time. As a parent myself, I know that can be a challenge!

Peekabond (freemium)

Peekabond is a family app that combines the best of video messaging, photo & video sharing, and family games. It’s built with children in mind and designed to be easy to use for all ages. You can share videos or play little games with loved ones. It helps grandparents and grandchildren to build a deeper relationship, with activities that grow with the age of the child.

Download Peekabond

A final word

I am a proud father and co founder of Peekabond. All the apps we’ve mentioned here could help your family to feel closer. Building a meaningful relationship always requires effort. I’ve found that many families really WANT to have a closer connection, but it’s hard to maintain in the daily hustle of life.

This is the challenge that we want to solve with Peekabond. Create a virtual place where you can be together as a family, without adding more work on your plate as a parent.

I invite you to try Peekabond, hope to see you there soon.

About Vincent

Vincent is a father and co-founder of Peekabond, living in the Netherlands. He loves designing beautiful products and wants to use his skills to make (at least) 20 million people smile. When he’s not working on Peekabond, you can find him doing outdoor activities or spending quality time with his family. You can find more about Vincent here

Join Us at Peekabond

Anieke Lamers, our CEO created Peekabond at the onset of Covid-19. A mobile app to help global families bond with young children remotely. Inspiring families to create playful and engaging moments with young children.

Asynchronous video connection and inspirational science-based content suggestions. Allowing families and loved ones to share small moments and build better bonds. Every play experience is designed with care and approved by child development experts. Always age appropriate. Always private and secure, never showing ads. Our intention is to build a movement that connects families across borders and over generations. If you would like to try Peekabond click here