How to Relocate With Children
Moving, particularly to a different country, will produce a mix of feelings in the members of the family . On one hand, everybody will be excited about going to leave in a different place. On the other hand, there are fears about the "unknown" and about loosing the "known" and comfortable environment in which you and your family are living now.
Adults have much less problems in dealing with these feelings and/or fears than children. By the time a move is decided the adults have already evaluated most of the issues and determined to go ahead with it. In most of the cases, children do not have a say in the decision, even though they will have to accept it and leave with it.
Once the decision of moving have been made and communicated to the children, they may act, consciously or unconsciously in different ways. An important issue that must be considered since the very beginning, is that the closer the day of the move, the more hectic everybody will be and the less attention will be paid to the children and their feelings and fears.
This is a normal situation, but it is also a critical time. Since children will start to lose their "comfortable and known environment" (his or her room will be packed, there will be farewell parties, etc.), this is the moment when they will need more support from parents, family and friends.
Watch out for ...
Some of the most common symptoms the children may have about moving are:
- Become more sensible and question the decision of moving.
- Feel abandoned (specially close to the actual move).
- Have a regretional behavior.
- Show signs of loneliness and apathy.
- Believe they lost control of their own lives, etc.
One of the most important issues for parents when moving, is to ensure that at all times during the process, they are properly dealing with their children's concerns and fears.
Tips for relocating with children
Here are some tips that will help you when moving with children:
- Let the children know about the move as soon as the decision is final. Communicate as may details as you possible can, such as where are you moving, when and why.
- The reasons for the move should be explained and discussed thoroughly with the children in a very open and honest way.
- Listen carefully to what your children have to say. Let them express their feelings and show them that you understand and that you and your spouse will always be available to discuss with them anything the may want to.
- Obtain "buy in" from the children by:
- Creating a teamwork spirit.
- Making "projects" for certain parts of the move, assigning responsibilities and coaching them to ensure they will successfully complete their work.
- Letting them decide on what they will keep and what they will throw away form their belongings.
- Rewarding a job well done.
- Having them to prepare a schedule of activities highlighting the dates for milestone activities.
- Plan breaks during the moving process. This process may be long and exhausting and you and your family will need to take some time off the work related to the move.
- When you arrive at your new home, setup the children rooms first.
- Set aside time on a daily basis to help your children know the new neighborhood and help them meet other children.
- Enroll your children in the school right upon arrival and get them started as soon as possible.
- Talk to your children about their new experiences. Work with them until you feel comfortable that they are well settled and that even though they may still miss their old friends and environment, they like the new place and feel the move was a great experience.
Timeline for relocating with children
8 weeks prior to the move
Communicate the decision to the children.
Clearly explain the reasons for the move.
Guide them to ask you as many questions as they feel like it.
5 weeks prior to the move
Help them to organize their own stuff and to determine what they want to keep and what they want to discard.
Ask them to begin updating addresses, phone numbers and e-mail of their relatives and friends, so they can communicate their new address as soon as they know it.
2 weeks prior to the move
Take the children for the last visit to relatives, friends and favorite places.
Consider throwing a "farewell" party.