Moving away from home can be stressful for children of all ages. There are a number of ways to help them through the transition:
1. Keep them 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.
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.
2. Explain everything, assume nothing
Assume your children know nothing about what a move entails. Very young children will be confused about what they’re able to take and what they won’t. Assure them that all their toys, clothes and belongings will be put into boxes and taken to the new house. They may even need it confirmed that they will be accompanying you!
Walk around your house with your child. Have them point to things and tell them, “Yes, your teddy is going to the new house.” “No, that carpet is going to stay here.” It sounds silly, but young children really do need it to be explained to them in very simple terms.
3. Where possible, involve them in the home choice process
If possible, take your children along on your home search visits. Most Consultants are happy for your children to attend and can arrange for the (legally-required) car seats to be available for them.
Make clear at the onset of any home search visit that the final decision is up to the adults, but that their opinions will be considered.
We would not advise bringing very young children along – home search days can be very long and can lead to tantrums in even the most angelic of toddlers! If you can’t take them along, you can still keep them involved. Take pictures/video of the houses you’re considering and bring them back to show them. A temporary nanny can be arranged to look after your children by TRC if required.
4. 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.
If possible, try to help them maintain contact with their friends whilst they are away, perhaps by telephone, email, Skype and the internet.
A password-protected area can be created for your family at the TRC website, to allow you and your children to communicate online with your friends and family in a completely safe environment. Speak to your contact at TRC if you would like this to be arranged for you.
5. Make the transition fun
As well as being unsettling and tiring, moving from your home country can be fun! Plan to splurge a little bit on transitioning from one home to another – maybe visit some fun, kid-friendly restaurants, go to the cinema/theatre or visit an indoor play frame. Any new location will have plenty to offer a family – if in doubt, just ask your TRC Consultant and they will be able to send you some suggestions.
6. Get to know your child’s new school
School is the centre of your child’s universe. They will only be happy if they are happy in school. Inevitably, that means you will only be happy if they are happy in school!
Make sure your child visits the prospective schools with you – it is only by visiting the schools that you will get a true feeling of the atmosphere there. Make sure your child knows where their classroom would be, where the toilets are, where the dining room is, and all the other basic information they would need on their first day.
Many independent schools run a buddy system for new children – these are absolutely invaluable for helping them to fit in quickly. If they are offered a buddy, it is always wise to accept them!
If your child has any particular interests or hobbies, find out if there is a club covering that interest at the school – it will be much easier to make friends with other kids that they have something in common with.
If you can spare the time, try to volunteer for any Parent/Teacher association aligned with the school – this is an invaluable way of making friends and becoming truly integrated to an area.
7. Find something new
Find something new, good and different about the new house or town and play it up. Give this new place something the old one didn’t have. Perhaps it has a duck pond nearby or a rickety old street that you can play hopscotch on? Every place will have something – try delving into your inner child to find it for them!
8. Add some extras
Sign your children up for some extracurricular activities e.g. scouts, guides, clubs, etc.
These smaller clubs may provide a welcome group of new friends for them. They’ll feel more a part of their new home once they’re involved in activities.
Try to keep one activity that isn’t with the school – this will help them to broaden their friendship base and give them a break from thinking about school all the time.
9. Make their bedroom the top priority
Ensure they have anything with them that will help them settle in quickly e.g. their favourite toy, comfort blanket or duvet cover. Let them pick a couple of new items that will make their new room feel special to them e.g. a new cushion, alarm clock or some posters.
Having a place that they feel comfortable in and can call their own will work wonders for their settling in.
10. Explore, explore, explore!
Once you arrive in the new place, start exploring. What does your new location have that you’ve never experienced? Start reaping the benefits of your new environment right away. Your kids will feel like they’re on an extended holiday!
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.