This week we will be posting a selection of articles to provide advice on what to keep in mind when relocating with children. The first article in this series considers approaches that may be useful prior to the actual move:
1. Keep the children involved. As soon as you know there’s even a possibility of a relocation, include your children in the conversations. Don’t wait until it’s a sure thing and then spring it on them.
2. Respect their feelings. Listen to their concerns and tell them to come to you with their fears, anxieties and questions. Quite often, children can make assumptions that are quite far from the reality – keeping the lines of communication open with them will help them to adapt. Even if you are unable to accommodate their requests, treat their feelings with respect.
3. Get an age-appropriate book about moving. Younger children may not fully understand what ‘moving’ means. There are a wide variety of age-appropriate books about moving available that could be beneficial to read together.
4. Explain everything, assume nothing. Assume your children know nothing about what a move entails. For example, young children may be confused about what they can and can’t take. They may need assurance that their toys, clothes and belongings will be put into boxes and taken to the new house. Walk around your house with them and point out the sorts of things that will go with you (e.g. “yes, your teddy is going to the new house; no, that carpet is going to stay here.”). Young children really do need it to be explained to them in very simple terms.
5. Reassure your children that you will remain a constant in their life. When young children lose the security of their family home, they may become insecure about losing other important things in their life. It is well worth reassuring them that, even when homes and friends have to change, you will always be there for them.
6. Make a memory board. If you’re relocating to a new country for work, or preparing for a long-distance move, it’s highly likely that you’ll be leaving family and friends behind. Help your children gather together photos of their favourite people/places and make a memory board with them. When you arrive at your destination, they can hang this memory board in a special place and see their loved ones every day.
7. Let the children help you pack. If they’re old enough, let your children help you pack/sort some of their personal belongings. If some items are being put into storage, ask them what they would like to keep and what they don’t mind parting with for a while.
8. Take up babysitting offers. It’s hard to accomplish any task quickly with small children under foot, particularly if they enjoy unpacking items as you just put them in the box! Where possible, plan to pack when the kids are asleep, at playgroup or at school, and accept the help of friends and family to look after the kids where possible.
9. Time your move carefully. Sometimes, circumstances dictate when you have to move. However, if you do have a choice, try to time your move so that it occurs at a relatively calm period in your child’s life. Take school schedules into consideration, and avoid moving when other big changes (like potty-training) are happening, too.
10. Make sure you have a ‘contents list’ for each of the children’s boxes. If you’re travelling from overseas, the time between packing the box and opening the box can be weeks or even months! It’s highly unlikely you will be able to remember the detailed contents of each box without a list – knowing where a particular toy is could save a future tantrum!
11. Pack one box of toys last. If you pack all the toys away first, you’ll just be left with bored children who will need you to occupy them! Make sure you keep aside some of the toys and activities that you know will keep the children busy up until the last minute.
12. Plan a nice goodbye to your current home. Before you move, throw a going-away party for your kids with their friends. Make sure they know when they are going, when they will be back and how they can stay in touch with each other. Children love a celebration, and this can be a great way to turn your move into a positive, exciting experience.
If possible, try to help them maintain contact with their friends whilst they are away, perhaps by telephone, email, Skype and the internet.
The Relocation Consultancy are experts in destination services and provide a range of options to support families moving to the UK. For a FREE consultation on the services that may be suitable for you, call +44 (0)118 947 0029 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.