Children thrive on routine, but they love adventure. Relocating overseas can be both terrifying and exciting at the same time for youngsters. Moving your family to a new country can be a daunting prospect. You have to plan everything from a new job and home to organising your personal shipping from Ireland. With so much to do, it is easy to lose sight of how difficult it is for the children. Yes, they are resilient. And they will adjust and learn to love their new home. But parents can make the process easier for everyone in the family by taking the time to prepare their children for the big move.
School-age children are often keenly aware of the loss involved in moving. Babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers are still mostly focused on their parents. But school-age kids have solid attachments to their classmates, friends, teammates and school community. The idea of losing their school, their sports teams and their neighbourhood pals is very upsetting. Teens are old enough to see the adventure side of it more clearly and to be aware that they can keep in touch with friends back home online.
The move can leave them feeling powerless. However, whichever the age group, there is one thing can instil a sense of comfort to an otherwise ‘foreign’ place: their belongings. While our possessions should not be what defines us, they are undoubtedly part of who we are and the memories they bring can help in making the transition easier. If you are moving overseas shipping belongings is usually an easy, cost-effective way to transport your items and to reassure your children that they will still have a little bit of their former home in the new house.
Here are another few tips to consider when moving overseas with children.
10 Tips for Preparing Children to Move Overseas
1. Learn about your new country together online. Encourage questions, and look them up online. Show them lots of photos of your destination.
2. Explain how the move will happen. Children will ask the same questions over and over. Be patient and give them the same answers over and over.
3. Learn the language and practice. Kids do learn languages much faster than adults, but they will feel more confident knowing how to ask basic questions on their first day of school.
4. Read stories set in that country. Stories are an excellent and fun way to demystify your destination and help your children imagine being there. It also gives a little insight into how the culture is the same and how it is different.
5. Reassure your child in detail about how they can stay in touch with friends. Practice using video chat and email before you go so your child understands how they work.
6. Explain how school is the same (or different) there. Will the new school be secular or religious? Where do they eat lunch? Is it single sex or co-ed?
7. Let them decide what items to bring and help pack. Parents need veto power over what goes in the suitcases – especially if you are shipping overseas from Ireland – but having them help you decide which toys go in the shipping and which are no longer needed usually aid in making them feel at ease about the move. It’s also a good opportunity to suggest donating some of the items they no longer use and won’t need to go on your personal shipping overseas. Letting children pick a couple of items to bring on the flight is also a great idea to make them feel safer during the journey.
8. Encourage questions. Make time every day or two to chat about the move with your children. Share with them the questions you have and what answers you found.
9. Share stories of your own experience of being new somewhere – a new town or new job even – and how you dealt with any feelings of sadness or fear.
10. Make some realistic plans to do fun things in your new country. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, but find something so they have something positive to anticipate.