When you’re thinking about moving to another country, there are lots of things that you might have to think about. One thing that is vital to consider is how your children feel about the move, and how that might affect them in the future.
Of course, you will be making the move because you feel that it is the best thing for your family – however for children it is often not that straightforward, and for this reason you should always try to prepare them for the move as best you can.
1. Be Enthusiastic -No matter how nervous you are about your new life, don’t let your children sense it. Be enthusiastic and point out all the positive points. As long as you are enjoying yourself, your precious little ones will follow suit.
2. Involve them when possible – it is often tempting to keep children away from the action as much as possible, so that you can get things done. In this case, however, it can help to involve your child in as many decisions as you can. Things like choosing luggage, or deciding on wallpaper for your new house, if your child feels involved then they will feel as though they have more ownership over the decisions.
3. Point out what’s good about the move -If your child has a hobby, it is good if they can see that the new country is even better for their hobby than where they live now. Each country has different things that children will be able to take part in, and if you can find some exciting examples, this is likely to encourage your child to accept and even enjoy the move.
4. Toys, Toys, Toys – Your shipment will take an average of six to 14 weeks to be delivered to your new home depending on which country you are going to. Therefore, your children may need an emergency supply of toys when they arrive.
5. Keep your children involved in the packing process – assuming they want to be. Let them decide which toys they want to take with them. Let them pack their own box/boxes, even if you or the removal company have to repack it/them later. They could even decorate their packing boxes; anything to make the move seem like fun.
6. Bedroom furniture -Bedroom furniture definitely needs debating. Remember when you ship goods you pay for volume. Good quality children’s bedroom furniture that flat packs makes it easier to agree to let them take their bunk bed or cabin bed. Their chest of drawers can be filled with soft toys or bedding so they are also worth considering. Your child’s bedroom will become a place where they feel safe and at home, so the sooner it is set up, the sooner they will be able to settle in.
7. Teach Them -Go to the library or scour the internet for children-friendly information about their new homeland. Obviously focus on all the plus points – new places to visit, new culture, new friends and a new school. Depending on where you’re going, lots of sunshine, leading to the ability to be outdoors for much of the year, can be a tremendous draw card for young children. On the flip side, all young kids love snow!
8. Make your child’s bedroom a priority – Your child’s bedroom will become a place where they feel safe and at home, so the sooner it is set up, the sooner they will be able to settle in. This is a good room to start with when you arrive if you can. You may find that a lot of boxes are littered around the place for weeks after you move in, but if you can, try to get everything unpacked in your child’s room, as this helps them to see your home as somewhere that they are staying, rather than just being on holiday.
9. Get into a routine as quickly as possible – Children thrive on routine, and it is important to get into one as soon as you can when you arrive. If you can, you should try to keep hold of some things that they did when they were at home – for example if you always took your child swimming on a Sunday morning, it would be good to still do this. It can provide some continuity between the two homes, which can help to bridge the gap.
10. Keep in touch with people at home -Your child is likely to miss home, at least at the beginning, but keeping in touch with loved ones is important. Skype and Facebook are great for this, and your child should be encouraged to keep in touch, and to send letters and photos to family back home. This can help them feel more connected and should help them to settle in better.
The above are only a few ideas that may be considered and in the end it is up to the individual family to decide what will be appropriate for them. Just remember that if the children settle quickly, it is one less worry for you which will help you reconcile the fact that what you have done is the best thing for you and you family.