There is a lot to take into account when moving with children, one of the main things is the reason for the move in the first place. It is important to talk about the move with the kids so that they don’t feel like it is being thrust
upon them especially if the move is sudden or in unpleasant circumstances. Children need time to adjust to big changes and if time is something that you don’t have then it is even more crucial that you talk it through with them. Sit them down and explain why the move is happening and what this means for them. Will it mean a new school or moving far away from family if so ask them how they feel about it and most importantly listen to what they have to say.
Involve them in the decisions
One of the best ways to get the kids on board with the move is to involve them in any big decisions that you have to make. You should try wherever possible to take the children with you to any house viewings, that way they will be able to get a feel for their new neighbourhood and their new home. Ask the kids which house they prefer and why and get them talking about the potential homes that you are looking at. You are much more likely to get your child on board with the decision if they feel like they have had a hand in it. As a child if you feel like you are being forced into something, particularly something that means changes for you, you will instantly want to dig your heels in and disagree with it. However if you ask your child’s opinion on their new home they will feel more open to the changes.
Old and new friends
Probably the worst part about moving for a child is leaving their friends behind. When you’re young it can be difficult to leave friends behind as they are a big part of your life and let’s face it this isn’t something that gets much easier as you get older. Even though we know they will make friends at their new school there is probably no convincing your child of this. While it is important to reassure your child that they will make new friends it is also important to explain that just because they are moving it doesn’t mean that they have to forget about their old friends. Try to encourage the bond that your child already has with their friends by throwing a going away party. Don’t make it seem like a sad time for your child and they will be less upset. It is also great to create “memory gifts” for the kids. Think things like friendship bracelets, scrap books, photo albums. Anything that your child can keep to look back at when they are missing their friends will work. Lockets and matching bracelets are also good and anything that has two parts so that they can keep one half and give the other half to their friend. You should encourage communication for your children as well, if you aren’t moving too far arrange for dates when the kids can visit each other and if you are moving abroad make sure you set up Skype so that they can see their friends when they talk to them.
Once you’ve moved why not invite some of the kids in the neighbourhood round to your house; that way the kids can make new friends you can get to know the parents. It is important to help your kids get involved in the community as at first they are likely to not want to. The quicker they get involved the easier the transition will be. Obviously don’t try and force your child if they’re not ready but they will adjust to a new school much easier if they have already made friends there and have some friendly faces to greet them.
Settling into a new school is always difficult as it is taking children out of their comfort zone. Don’t forget that teachers are used to dealing with this sort of situation and will be able to make your child feel at ease in the
classroom so it might be worth arranging a visit to the school before they actually have to start. This way the kids will know their way around and be familiar with their new teachers and the teacher will be aware of how comfortable your child is with the changes. You can even make a list of things that you think will help your kids adjust and give this to the teacher.
Picking up the lingo
If your children are still young they should be able to pick up a new language quite quickly but this doesn’t mean that they won’t need your help. The best thing that you can do for your kids is to set an example by speaking the language yourself. Whether you have lessons or just choose to teach yourself a few choice phrases, once your child sees you speaking the language this will encourage them to do more of the same. You could also get them a personal tutor or just look for groups for expats/tourists where people will be speaking the language that you could both go along to.
In order to make the transition as smooth as possible for the kids it is important to try and maintain any family traditions that you have. This will mean that the move has less of an impact on the kids; if they can see that just because you are in a different place it doesn’t mean that the family or their relationship with you is going to change it will help to put them at ease. Even though moving can be a stressful time for everyone involved try and keep to anything that you used to do before as well as just keeping to routines. If the kids have bed times maintain this and if you always eat dinner as a family this shouldn’t change either.
Be a tourist
Being a tourist is especially important if you’ve moved abroad with children, but even if you haven’t moved out of the country you can still apply the same tactics to getting your kids to settle in. In order to make your kids feel comfortable in your new home it is important to explore your new surroundings. Try going to the tourist board or if you are in a new country buy some travel books. Look for things that you can do with your kids in the new place that will make your kids see the fun side of living there. Are there any groups that you could join maybe something for the kids so that they can make friends with some of the locals. It is really important to immerse yourselves in the local culture and this way your child will be settling in without even realising it.