With the multitude of challenges an overseas move presents it is easy to overlook the upheaval this can cause, particularly to children.
It is not uncommon to be met with a reluctance to move away from friends, a regular/familiar routine etc. Getting children involved in the early stages of the move encourages them to feel part of the process. Hold a family dinner and focus on the positives, perhaps moving to a larger home, a new garden or a promotion. It is a good idea to project a positive attitude about moving to a new and exciting environment. Also allow children to express their feelings and assure them that their input is helping to shape the move ie. a larger bedroom, a new play area, or a pet.
As soon as you can encourage the children to research the new destination, with a particular focus on continuity, i.e. Allowing the children to continue activities, fun events and hobbies which they currently participate in.
Infants and toddlers cope with overseas moves better than older the children who possess a fuller understanding of what the move entails. Children under the age of five generally define ‘home’ as where their parents are.
5 to 10 year olds tend to develop stronger bonds, though there tends to be a degree of flexibility. Moving during the school holiday, Summer break or half term can be helpful. Whilst bubble wrap and boxes can be fun it’s a good idea for young children to stay with relatives or friends during the packing day/days.
Teenagers are generally more of a challenge. They are likely to have invested a considerable amount of time within their social groups and it is very important to treat any concerns they have with respect. Help them to view the relocation as an adventure and a normal part of growing up moving on to further education and eventually leaving home.
Helping everyone to purge items and de-clutter not only gets everyone into move mode but also lowers volume is and can potentially reduce the cost move. It can be a challenge to get kids to give up and part with items. Deal with their possessions last. Provide them with a limited number of boxes to sort out their own things and mark the boxes as VIP. This encourages children to give up toys and other items they do not use often. As part of a trade-off you can promise them a new bed perhaps. The advantage of this if you don’t need to ship their existing bed, again lowering the volume with possible savings. Also you can consider holding a garage sale for any items from within the house and encourage the children to be involved and perhaps keep some of the proceeds.
If possible, allow the children to accompany you during the house-hunting phase, which has the added benefit of enabling them to view the neighbourhood, and possibly visit local amenities and even schools. Let the children know that once a new home has been chosen they will have some involvement in the new rules, regulations and planning of the house. A feeling of empowerment with the prospect of a move to a new home can be very appealing.
Bidding friends goodbye is never easy. Inviting family members and friends to a leaving party is a great way of reducing anxiety. Make sure everyone exchanges contact information and take lots of photos. Social media, video chat and email help everyone stay in touch and this can really ease the course of things.
Hit the ground running
Finally, once you’re finally set up in your new home plan some fun activities for the family. This can include a trip to the local malls’ cinema, visiting a local park or perhaps a camping or hiking trip inviting new friends along with kids to naturally integrate in a fun and relaxing way.