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Relocating with kids - How does it work?

Moving to a new country is often accompanied, in addition to logistical difficulties, by feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. This is further intensified when it comes to transitioning with children. As a psychologist and child coach that had experienced it herself while moving abroad as a child and as a mother of 2 kids, I really understand what you're experiencing. I'm specialized in supporting similar situations for the family. So, here are some basic tips for integrating children in moving to a new country.

When parents turn to me with questions about integrating children into the new environment and adapting to transition, I personally can certainly understand their concerns and adversities. It is challenging. And yet, from my personal experience and with the families I accompany, I can assure you that children are better adapters than adults, especially when it comes to young children. The crisis and difficulty will be short and will soon be replaced by excitement and joy from the new language, the new friends and the benefits that the new environment has to give you.

From my own experience and the experiences of my clients, I have gathered some short tips, what you can do to make your child's transition easier. Also, I've made a nice book for my clients to make together with the family in order to make this move most comfortable. Here are some of my tips:

1. Keep familiar items

If the furniture does not pass you by, you should at least take some of your kid favorite toys for the trip, a doll pillow and blanket, maybe even a favorite set and bedding with the familiar scent and favorite games and books. You should try to keep regular elements in the routine, for example continue to sing the same song or read the same story before bed - on the plane, in the hotel and in the new house.

2. Share with your child

Involve the children in the decision. Of course this is a decision of the parents. We do not ask for their permission or give them a sense that the parents are unsure of their decision. At the same time, it is advisable to tell them what our family is going to do, to observe together where this country is on the globe, by age maybe to do a computer search on this country, to show in the calendar when the transition is planned, and so on. It is worth explaining at a level appropriate to the age of the child why we made the decision to move so that they would not feel slipped or dragged. When it comes to older children, you can consult with them and gather a wish list for the new home and new environment. You can combine them with home / school visits and tours if possible.

3. Farewell

Have a farewell party (fun, not full of tears) from family and friends. A memoir with pictures of the people and favorite places can be a great souvenir. You should also include the addresses and emails of your friends so it will be easy to stay in touch.

4. Emphasize the positive and the constant

Remind the child repeatedly of the positive things in the transition. For example: we will have a beautiful house or a large room there. Meet new friends, learn a new language and how nice it will be to meet kids from another country. One can also start watching videos together in the language of the country you're moving to and get used to the sound.

After moving there are some nice idea's you can do together.

5. In the new environment

Take an introductory tour in the first days in the new house, get to know the house itself, the neighborhood, the environment, the kindergarten and the new school. Travel as a tourist in the city before you get into a routine. Ask to visit the school, try to get to know children who will be with your child in class and bring them together before the start of the school year (through the school itself or through Facebook parent groups, etc.). This will make it a little easier to get used to a new school.

6. Take a deep breath

The first period (between one and one and a half years) will not be easy. The children may return home crying in the first few days. Save yourself energy waste by taking the difficulty into account in advance. Do not fight him. Try in this initial period not to stop every moment to check whether good or bad. Consider the frustration, longing and nerves. Do not aggravate yourself. Adaptation and integration take time. It is a period of adjustment and it is exciting and thrilling but also not easy.

7. Get professional guidance

If necessary, get help from relocation companies for information and logistical help in finding an apartment, school, etc. Also take advantage of the wealth of information available on the web and social networks! Do not be ashamed to ask for help. I'm available for you!

Remember: only you are the experts of your life and that of your children. You know them best and know what to do to make them easier. Some children need a lot of preparation, explanations and information and some need a lot of hugs and inclusion.

In General

Children are great emotion detectors. If you feel insecure, scared and sad - children will absorb and mimic your feelings. It is important to mediate for them the range of emotions you are experiencing - because they may be flooded. True, it's sad for us to say goodbye to Grandma, or to our friends and neighborhood but it's true for us to have a great adventure and Grandma will come to visit.

Most importantly remember: if you spoil it can always be repaired and this is always true for children! Your mediation of the experiences they go through is what matters. If they feel that the family unit is strong and permanent - all the other changes will be minimalized.

If you have questions and need support and guidance before, during of after a relocation or an immigration: I am here for you.

Good Luck!

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