Relocating with children is one decision that many parents have to face. With that decision comes the great responsibility and challenge of how best to do it. Here is my story…
I saw it as I turned the corner, well, you couldn’t actually miss it …it was big, gleaming white truck with a bright red flash along its side. I recognized the logo to be a well known relocations company. Someone was on the move! How exciting!
That someone was standing surrounded by her precious things packed neatly in boxes on the drive. She was trying desperately to stop her toddler from enjoying his new found jungle gym, while juggling his sister in her arms who was determined that she was not going to miss out on the fun either!
As I walked passed a neighbor arrived with a steaming cup of tea, a much needed hug and an extra pair of hands. As I continued my walk, I remembered vividly my first move with children and how much I’ve learned with each subsequent move.
It made me think what if a friend was moving what tips would I pass on to make it a less-stressful experience, in what is known to be 3rd on the list of most stressful events after spousal death and divorce…. both of which can occur if the move doesn’t go well…!
What should you do when Relocating with Children?
• Accept all offers from family and friends to look after the children while you sort out what’s for packing, storage or donating. Especially on packing day.
Your not superwoman and while you probably are coping fantastically well, people want to help …let them.
• Depending on the ages of the children research your new destination with them, plan adventures and list places to visit when family and friends come to stay…because they will!
• Ask around amongst your circle of family and friends if they have contacts already at your next destination. I have found people to be so generous with their time, and have proven to be a valuable source of relevant information.
• A word of warning don’t sit the children down in front of the TV to watch a program of ‘The Worlds Most Dangerous Creatures’ especially when they all live in your new destination. A well-meaning Dad thought he’d give the kids a ‘heads-up’ as to the native Australian creatures. Unfortunately it had the negative effect of terrifying the 5 and 7yr old so much that when they reached their destination they refused to go swimming because of the crocs, sharks, snakes and swimming spiders! I speak from experience ….It is important to be aware of possible dangers but in context and not all at once!
• Clearly mark the boxes containing the children’s bedroom items, even let the children colour or draw on those boxes for fun. They will be easily recognisable for when you unpack at your destination. Their bedroom can be put together with the familiar bed linen and accessories, which has a settling effect.
• Keep positive and see the move as an incredible opportunity for your family and for the children to learn about new places and broaden their knowledge of the world. If the children see that Mum sees the move as an adventure (real or imagined) they will cope better. Remember they’re watching you for signals, good or bad.
• Let the children voice their concerns regarding the move it’s a big upheaval for adults so it can’t be downplayed for them. When we told our youngest about our international move the first thing she said was “you don’t know what it’s like to stand in a school playground and not know anyone”. She was right, I never moved as a child. She clearly voiced what was her fear. It may be different for each child but listen for the clues they will present themselves even with the most confident child. Then act on helping them find a solution.
If you are relocating with children for the first time – good luck, embrace the change. Whether it’s a move around the corner, to a new house, new neighbours or an international move new time zone new culture maybe even new language I hope it will prove to be a wonderful adventure for your family.