Along with huge excitement and opportunities, moving abroad with a family can also throw up issues, especially if there are children in tow.
The ease with which your child settles into their new life will be down in part to their age. Small babies and toddlers will certainly feel the change in terms of the practical aspects of moving house but they are unlikely to feel any emotional wrenches. In this respect they are the easiest to deal with.
The older the child gets however, the more complicated the move. Most school-age children will have made friends and formed relationships with relatives. Before they hit the teens though, you will probably find them to be adaptable. They are most likely to seek reassurance from parents that the move is going to be OK. Teenagers on the other hand will have strong feelings about the decision. With a strong network of friends the thought of moving miles away, may not go down well.
The key to coping with the situation is preparation, preparation, preparation. Regardless of the age of the child, if they have a clear idea of what is happening and where they are going to be living, the transition should be easier.
Before you leave talk to your child about the country you are moving to. Show them the house you are going to be living in and the school will be attending. The more involved they are in the process the less scary it will be for them to understand. Give them a chance to talk through their concerns and if you don’t know the answer to something, promise to help sort it out. Allowing them to say goodbye to their friends and family is also a great thing to do. Throw a party, or give them a chance to make a photographic record of their life at home. This will help them, not only move on, but feel that they have been listened to.
Some experts recommend that you read stories to your children so that they can understand what is happening.
Some particular favourites include:
For babies and toddlers: The Bernstain Bears’ Moving Day, Stan and Jan Bernstain
For 9+ Allie Finkle’s Rules For Girls: Moving Day, Meg Cabot
For 13 + Club Expat: A Teenager’s Guide To Moving Overseas, Aniker & Akash Shah
Once in you new overseas home much of what you initially need to do practically will be similar to moving house in the UK. Making sure the children’s rooms are set up and ready quickly will help them settle in more easily. If you have older children getting WiFi installed will be essential as they will be keen to keep talking to their friends.
Over the following weeks and months, as the children start to establish new routines, especially if they are going to school, more challenges will arise for parents. Take charge of younger children’s social lives and invite the neighbour and her kids around for a play date. Find a local nursery school or playgroup so both you and your child can meet new people.
Keep to routines that were firmly established at home. If Sunday, was ‘dog walk and lunch day’ make sure you continue this once in your new country. More family time may be the key to success in settling expat children as they are bound to need more of your guidance. Teenagers in particular may find the initial settlement period very difficult so it’s important to talk to them about how they are feeling and be respectful that they may not have wanted this move as much as you. Encourage them to join clubs, such as sporting activities, if that is what they were into before, and to keep in touch with old friends. Expat communities are all over the world and talking to someone who’s been in the same position as them will help them offload their woes.
If you are considering a move abroad PSS International removals can help. We are a family run company and our desire is to ensure your family receives a friendly, professional and stress free overseas move. We have specialised in international removals for over 34 years, so whether you are planning on sending a full or part household removal, excess baggage or a vehicle we recognise the importance of ensuring our customers receive the same level of care and attention that we would expect ourselves.
Contact us now for a free estimator’s survey, or simply fill in our online moving or baggage quote form.