The upheaval of a move, particularly overseas, is often felt most by children. With the multitude of challenges a move presents it is easy to overlook this.
We hope you will find the following helpful.
Family meeting & wish list
Involving children in the very early stages makes them feel part of the process. Have a family meeting, and talk about all the positive aspects of the move, maybe a promotion, or moving to a larger house. Even if you are reluctant to move it is important to project a positive attitude about moving to a new and exciting environment. Allow children to talk about their feelings and make sure you let them understand their input is helping to shape the move. A wish list is a great way of getting kids into a positive frame of mind. Maybe a bigger garden, a home near the sea, a larger bedroom or perhaps a new pet.
At the earliest opportunity, encourage the kids to research the new destination using books or internet. Learn about activities and fun events, focusing on continuity by researching activities in which the children currently participate. There is a host of up-to-date information online. Be careful not to raise expectations too high, as this can be counter-productive when you arrive at destination.
Infants and toddlers tend to have a limited understanding of the move and the changes involved. Their sense of security and definition of home is where their parents are. Generally they are the easiest to relocate.
5-10 year olds
Children under 10 tend to develop stronger bonds, however with a degree of flexibility. Moving during summer holidays or at half-term can really help. It is a good idea for younger children spend the packing dates away from the home, with a friend or relative.
Moving with teens
Teenagers are normally more of a challenge. Often they have invested a great deal of time in their social groups and sometimes a romantic relationship. It is vital to treat the concerns they raise with respect. Help them to look at the move as an adventure and as a natural progression of growing up and a foretaste of going to college and eventually leaving home.
De-clutter & purging items
Lower volumes can keep moving costs down and it is amazing how many people move ‘clutter’, which is never unpacked at destination. Getting the kids to give up items can be a challenge. Make sure you deal with their items last. If you can provide them with boxes to sort their own items and mark the boxes as VIP, it encourages children to give up toys and other items they do not use often. Large furniture takes up a lot of space, so a promise of a new bed can really help. You can think about having a garage sale for items throughout the house. Encourage the kids to be involved in this process allowing them to keep some of the proceeds.
Host a leaving party
Saying goodbye to friends is never easy. Hosting a party and inviting friends and family members is a good way of reducing anxiety. Take lots of photos and encourage everyone to exchange contact info. Email, social networking and video chat can help friends and family keep in touch and ease the process.
Take the children on the home search
Assuming it is practical, allowing the kids to accompany you on a home search allows them to see first hand the different options. This also provides an opportunity to tour the neighbourhood. If you search for a new home online, definitely involve the kids and make sure you bookmark the prospective new homes.
Room plans in the new home
Once the new house has been selected, allow the children to be involved in planning the new arrangements of the house. Perhaps they can choose their new bedrooms or you maybe able to create a family or TV/play room.
Arrange some fun things soon after arrival
Once the movers have set you up in your new home and things begin to settle down, obtain a guidebook and start to plan some fun family outings. This can include trips to malls, sports activities, camping, hiking, visits to parks or the local cinema. New friends of the children can also accompany you allowing the kids to integrate naturally to their new surroundings in a fun/relaxed way.