When a move overseas for employment abroad involves taking children, it is essential to plan the relocation well to ensure the best possible transition for them.
Relocating to a new country is exciting with the thought of a new life, and possibly a fresh start. However, due to unfamiliarity, a move abroad can cause apprehension in children. Preparing ahead of time makes it easier to look forward to the new life and helps them adjust quicker once there. Here are some ways to make your kids’ transition easier.
- Keep them in the loop
As soon as you know there’s even a possibility of relocation, include your children in the conversation. Don’t wait until it’s a sure thing and then spring it on them. Listen to their concerns and tell them to come to you with their fears, anxieties and questions.
- Explain everything, assume nothing
Assume your children know nothing about what a move entails. Very young children will be confused about what they’re able to take and what they won’t. They don’t always know what is part of the house and what doesn’t convey. Assure them that all their toys, clothes, furniture and belongings will be put into boxes and taken to the new house.
Walk around your house with your child. Have him point to things and tell him, “Yes, your bed is going to the new house.” “No, that wall is going to stay here.”
- Involve them in the home buying process
If possible, take your children along on your house hunt. Make clear at the onset that the final decision is up to the adults, but that their opinions will be considered.
If you can’t take them along, keep them involved. Take pictures of the houses you’re considering and bring them back to show the kids.
- Plan a nice goodbye
Before you move, throw a going-away party for your kids. Invite their friends and ask each guest to bring along a piece of advice for your child for his first day at his new school.
- Make the transition fun
Plan to splurge a little bit on transitioning from one home to another. Spend a night in a hotel with an indoor pool. Go to fun, kid-friendly restaurants for meals. Set aside time to see a movie or go roller skating.
- Know your child’s new school
School is the center of your child’s universe. He’ll only be happy if he’s happy in school. As soon as you know where you’ll be living, contact the school and get information on how to register and what documents and paperwork are required. Specifically ask about transitioning between classes and what supplies your child will need. As soon as possible, meet personally with the guidance counselor, principal and your child’s teachers and take a tour of the building with your child, so he can familiarize himself with his new surroundings.
- Reward them
Find something new, good and different about the new house or town and play it up. Look for a house with a recreation room. Buy a trampoline for the new, bigger back yard. Sign the kids up for a class at the Children’s Theater. Give this new place something the old one didn’t have.
- Add some extras
Before you unpack the first box, sign your children up for scouts, sports, clubs and other activities. These smaller groups may be a welcome group of new friends for them. They’ll feel more a part of their new home once they’re involved in activities.
- Make their rooms a priority
Before you start fixing up the new house, do your kids a favor and let them redecorate their rooms first. Let them pick out a paint color and a new bedspread. Having a place they feel comfortable and can call their own will work wonders for their settling in.
Once you arrive in the new place, start exploring. What does your new location have that you’ve never experienced? Start reaping the benefits of your new environment right away. Your kids will feel like they’re on a vacation.
Below are also some websites that may assist with planning your kids relocation and ease the transition:
School Match; http://www.schoolmatch.com/
Worldwide Classroom; http://www.worldwide.edu/index.html
Travel for Kids; http://www.travelforkids.com/