As parents, you’ve probably been given the advice time and again that routine is good for your children’s development. Bedtime routines should be the same every night, as should the process through which they get ready for school, and so on. So, what do you then do if you’re thinking of uprooting your family and moving overseas? Sure, it may be an amazing adventure and a brilliant opportunity to expand their horizons, but moving is a disruptive time in any child’s life, whether you’re moving across town or around the world. In order to help your kids adjust to so many changes all at once, here are a few tips to help before, during, and after the move:
Moving overseas means taking your kids away from their school, friends, other family, and pretty much everything that is familiar and a positive association. As adults, we understand that moving overseas can represent a great deal of amazing benefits in terms of culture, language, experience, and so on. Kids, though, will have a much harder time dealing with so much change and perceived loss happening all at once. While it may seem easier to insulate your kids from all the coming change and allow them to enjoy their current routines as long as possible, this isn’t necessarily the best way to help them adjust to the move. Lack of warning can result in shock and a harder time adjusting when the changes come. Instead, start preparing them for the coming move as soon as possible, and help them get involved in all the decisions and changes that are coming. This can include things like:
- Teaching them about where you’re going – try a restaurant with food from your new home country, start learning the language together, look at pictures or videos, and start delving into the culture. Familiarizing them early will make the differences less jarring.
- Get help packing – ask your kids to help make decisions about things like which furniture they want to keep, which toys to pack, and so on. This will help them feel more in control over the situation, which can help tamp down a lot of the fear and anxiety about change.
- Make decisions together – as much as possible, include your children in the process of choosing things for your new live abroad. Show them potential homes to live in, places to visit, and even information on schools they could attend. This will help them feel more involved, and will help them make more connections to your new home town.
Of course, there will definitely be things that your kids don’t need to be involved in, or can’t, like the logistics of the move itself. And, as a bit of a caveat, do your best to avoid over-promising. Keep your kids involved, but if you can’t guarantee things, don’t promise them or you’ll end up making that transition more difficult for a different reason.
Getting Ready To Go
Even before the house is packed up, you’ll want to prepare for what life will be like during the transition. Depending on your international moving services, and how much of your household goods you’ll be taking with you, you will likely end up with a few separate shipments. First, everyone will need to pack up their suitcases with immediate needs like clothing, toiletries, and entertainment aids. Of course you’ll want to be sure all the necessities are there, but this is a great time to get your kids to help with packing their carry-on bags. Be sure there are familiar comfort items and pieces of home as well as things to keep them entertained however long the flight is, as well as after you arrive. Dealing with jet lag will be even more difficult if your kids have nothing to keep them entertained.
The second part of this will depend on whether your household goods will ship in one unit or in two different shipments. Often, especially for military moves, there will be a smaller initial shipment so you can get the more necessary items, and the furniture and other items will come a bit slower. As you’re preparing, ask your international moving services company how they’ll be moving everything and when it will arrive. If you get an earlier shipment, have your kids help you choose some of the things that they’ll want sooner, rather than later. This can include things like favorite books or toys, photographs, and so on. Those familiar items will help them feel at home more easily in the new location.
Making Your Move
When it’s time to leave home and embark on your new adventure, guide your kids through the farewell process. Allow them to spend time with friends and encourage them to find ways to stay connected despite the distance—if they’re old enough, this is a perfect time to introduce the concept of pen pals. Take plenty of pictures to build up those connections, and remind them that goodbyes aren’t necessarily permanent. But at the same time, don’t place a heavy weight on what they’re leaving behind. Balance it with excitement for what’s ahead of them.
A new country and a new culture can be overwhelming and scary, especially when the language is different and nothing around seems familiar. Make sure your kids have familiar and comforting items with them for the plane ride and the first few days or weeks of settling down in the new location. This may mean a special comfort item, a blanket or stuffed animal, or it may mean having a photo book that they can keep by the bedside. Your child can help you choose these items and be responsible for carrying them along in their luggage so they’re available whenever your child feels the need.
In addition to creating a small sense of familiarity when you arrive, it’s also a good idea to start introducing your children to the new location as soon as possible. Go to dinner somewhere near your hotel or your new home and take a walk. Showing them places that will soon become familiar can help make the transition less overwhelming. As much as possible, relate the things you see back to things you learned together before leaving home to minimize those feelings of strangeness.
Focusing on Family
An international move can be difficult, and the best way to make it easier on your kids is to make sure you have enough attention for them. Hiring the right international moving services can help you navigate the moving process easily, so you can focus on your kids and the adventure to come. If you’re having trouble finding an international moving service you can trust, start with Customer Advocate. We provide verified reviews from actual customers, so you know that what you read is from customers who know. In addition to that, we take the time to check out the details and licensing for each company before we host them on site. This way, you can trust that the companies you’re reading about are licensed, experienced, and trustworthy. Learn more about our process here, and start searching for the right international moving services so you can focus on your kids during your big move!