moving with children

Moving overseas with children can be a very stressful experience at the best of times, but if you take the right preparation it might become a bit easier.

Nearly everyone that you speak to who has experienced an moving overseas with children will have an opinion as to the best way to go about it. Their advice may be good intentioned but perhaps its not necessarily what’s best for you. So lesson number one, certainly take on board other peoples experiences but seek advice from professional companies too.

A professional advisor, such as a child psychologist, may well be worth a visit as they would have assisted thousands of clients and will therefore have a much broader awareness of the processes and what strategies you can adopt as a parent.

There are certainly differences in the process based upon the age groups concerned. Teenagers will have a very different set of concerns than kids in the eight to twelve age group. That said, each will be just as important and the sensitivities are no less – just different.

Communication:

Thankfully, with all the social media means available to us these days, there is no excuse for not being able to keep in touch. By this we mean with family and friends before, during and after the moving process. Communication can be split into:

– Immediate family
– Extended family and friends and how to keep in touch

Immediate family

It is generally agreed that everyone in the immediate family circle, including the children, should be included in general discussion about the move. No need for Mum and Dad to have the children involved in some of the more complex and detailed discussions of course ie the job, the package, etc but they should certainly be involved in the lifestyle and daily living discussions, school options and anything else that specifically involves them. In other words, don’t hold back anything if you don’t have to and make sure there are no surprises!

The real benefit to the family communicating to this extent is that it is a great way to uncover any anxieties that the children may have and to be able to offer answers and reassurances to their questions and concerns.

Extended family and friends

A common concern when moving great distances is of course the leaving behind of family and friends. This is one of the greatest challenges to overcome.

Thankfully technology has advanced so much to the point that no matter where in the world you may be it is a simple process to invite family and friends into your social network scene visually, live and interactively. This is probably one of those rare occasions when you should encourage your children to communicate via some of the many social networking sites available or even setting up a family website.

Again, it’s all about reassurance and communicating. Being so far away does not mean “out of sight out of mind”, it’s just a question of being in touch in a different way.

Get the children involved

It is considered a good idea to have the children participate in the packing process – let them pack some of their soft toys or books for example. Many kids have been known to think that as the removalists packing teams place items inside cartons then that’s it…they will never see those things again. Having them involved and explaining that those items are only on a journey and that they will be at their new home wherever that may be is a great reassurance.

Moving Overseas Main Concerns

So often in life it is the fear of the unknown and the fear of failing that generates anxiety within us. Many studies have uncovered that these same fears the driving force behind some of the major concerns that children have when moving overseas.

Here are three of the top documented concerns:

1) Leaving family and friends behind
2) Fitting in and making new friends in a new Country
3) Doing well in their new school and even finding the right school

Each of these concerns are clearly understandable, each one will however have its own strategy requirement and can be overcome through communication, sharing and reassurance. The key is recognising the concern and developing a plan of action in advance of the move to deal with each one.

Here are a few tips on each:

1) Leaving family and friends behind

Many families have found that organising a goodbye party can really help. Not only does this give a real personal chance to say goodbye but it can also be a great reassurance in that it is an opportunity for the “friendship group” to throw ideas around on how to keep in touch, using the moment as a positive step forward.

We have already mentioned social media but as a reminder blogs, family websites, skype, facebook, etc are all great ways to keep in touch regularly and “live” so to speak. They can also be fun.

2) Fitting in and making new friends in a new Country

This is actually more of a pre departure concern and that in reality it is one of the easier concerns to overcome. Most schools will have experience in integrating newcomers especially if your child is enrolled in one of the international schools. If this is the case then there will be plenty of other children that have shared the same experience and will therefore have much in common.

Parents can definitely help with breaking the ice socially – encourage your child to invite a few friends home for after-school tea or play. See what extra activity groups the school may have and enrol your child in something that interests them.

If you are moving to a non English speaking country, study the local language together and get some lessons organised. Every little aspect of cultural awareness and language skill will assist and be viewed as a positive by the locals. There are also many organisations that provide cross cultural training so it may well be a good investment to get some coaching before you move.

3) Doing well in their new school and even finding the right school

Typical concerns about schools include the curriculum, the general teaching methods used, how many children are usually in a class, what language is used, how do breaks and the lunchtime routine work? These are all valid concerns and should be researched in advance so that your child is prepared and aware of the system as much as possible. Remember, no surprises!

It is highly recommended that you seek the advice of an international education consultant who will have access to all of the information you are looking. This type of professional advice and guidance is invaluable and is by far the best way to understand and be briefed on the local education system at your destination. They usually provide a school search and placement programme too.

Summary

As you can see, communication, research and planning are three critical areas in which to direct your effort in making the move with and for your child a more smooth and pleasant experience. We encourage you to call your local Nuss Relocations office for further advice and information on our own relocation assistance service.

The purpose of this article however is to provide you with food for thought and a few ideas on how to move forward as a family on the move. Each situation will be different and therefore we have tried to provide as much general advice as possible.

This article is work in progress and more and more information will be posted to it over time. We therefore encourage you to share you personal experiences with us so that others may benefit from them.

If you have some good practical advice or personal experience that you believe others would benefit from please submit this by email to: info@nuss.com.au and use the subject line “moving overseas with children”.