Moving is one of the most stressful things you can do, if you add children into the mix and you’re moving to a new country it’s going to be very overwhelming. Of course it’s not impossible and with a little organisation and forward planning you’ll make the whole process a little bit easier but no one is going to blame you if you need a little meltdown from time to time.
If you are moving abroad with younger children here are a few tips to make the whole thing go a little easier.
Whether you’re moving for a new job, a better style of life or even heading back to your partners home country you’re going to know why you’re moving. You need to make sure the kids understand why too, they might understand they’re moving to a new country, that they’re leaving their old house and friends behind but if they understand why it’s all happening they’ll find it a lot easier.Let them help
Packing is one of the worst parts of moving and it’s not made any easier by the fact it’s all got to be unpacked at the other end. Let the kids get involved and they’ll be more likely to accept the transition. Explain they can’t take all their favourite toys with them and let them sort out what they’re willing to donate to charity. You might even want to organise a car boot sale and let them keep any money they make for their stuff which they can spend once you get there.
Keep them in the loop
There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing ‘you’re too young to understand’ when you’re a child. If they’re asking questions always try and answer them as honestly as possible in a way they’ll understand. They’re going to be more likely to accept what’s going on if they know what’s happening. Obviously you don’t want them to start getting stressed out if you’re upset but their friends at school are likely to be asking them questions so make sure they can answer them.
If you’re moving to a country where English isn’t the first language try and get them acclimatised before the move. Hire a language tutor and encourage them to watch TV shows and cartoons in the new language so they enjoy learning it. The younger you are the easier you’ll find it to pick up a new language so it could be they find it easier than you if you’re trying to pick it up to. Encourage them to use their new language around the house too. When they move they’ll find it easier to make new friends if they can talk to them in their native language.
Research all education options
The most common option for people moving abroad is to send their kids to an international school where possible but this isn’t your only option. If you’re confident in your children’s language abilities they might find it easier to go straight into a local school. If you have the time and they are really nervous about moving you could try looking into home schooling at least to begin with. Don’t forget to ask them what they’d prefer, obviously you know what’s best for them but you need to at least take their opinion into consideration.
After the move
The hardest part is going to be the first few weeks once it’s clear this isn’t a holiday and a regular routine starts to form. Let them invite their friends from back home over in the school holidays so they have something to look forward too. Let them pick out the colour of their new bedroom and help decorate; they’re going to need to have their own things around them so the sooner their room is unpacked and sorted the happier they’ll feel. Find local clubs and groups they can join, if they enjoyed football back home they’re likely to enjoy it in their new home too.
Jessica works with Live in Portugal who offer financial services for non Portuguese residents moving to Portugal.