Moving Abroad With Children
For most children, moving is a difficult idea to come to terms with, and doubly so if you are moving them to another country.
Leaving close friends, familiar places and a secure lifestyle can be difficult. Make clear that this is a perfectly natural reaction, but at the same time stress the positive and adventurous aspects of a new life in a new country.
Telling the children about the move
On the whole it is better NOT to tell toddlers and younger children about the move until you are in the later stages of moving. Toddlers live in the present. They will not understand the concept of moving if you tell them about it months in advance. It is best to wait to break the news to toddlers until you are at a stage of the move where they will actually be involved.
On the other hand, tell teenagers about the move as soon as possible to give them time to think, to plan and to adjust to the idea of leaving behind their school, friends and social life.
Present the move as a positive opportunity and it is more likely that your children will receive the news with excitement. Outline the benefits of moving for the entire family. You can say you too are sad about leaving your friends, but that you are also excited about making new friends.
Preparing your children for the move
Involve older children in the moving process. Find photos and videos of your destination online to build up excitement and discuss the move with your children. Delegate tasks and encourage participation. Have a party to say goodbye to friends and to your old house. Make your children’s bedrooms the last rooms you pack up so they will have a safe place to go if they feel sad. And remind them that thanks to the internet it’s very easy to stay in touch with friends and relatives.
On moving day
If possible, have a friend, relative or babysitter to look after your younger children for the day. Teenagers should be involved on the day – moving is, after all, a team effort – and make sure you let them know how grateful you are for their support. Stay as upbeat and positive as possible. Moving may be stressful, but if you let it bother you, your children will pick up on your attitude. Hugs and smiles go a long way.
Take breaks from unpacking to explore your new neighbourhood. Go out as a family to see local shops, restaurants, and to meet other people. Make setting up your children’s bedrooms a top priority. Your child’s bedroom should be their sanctuary, the place where they feels safest. It takes about six weeks for a child to settle in at a new school, so try to be at home when your children return from their first day there. And be available for your children in case they need someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on.