Moving with Kids


Even small changes to a routine have an impact on a pre-schooler. Older children tend to have an established social life through school and hobbies and are therefore less dependent on their parents than younger children are. Still, leaving everything they know behind can hit hard but there are many things you can do to help them get ready for this transition.

Preparing your Children

There are things you can do to make an overseas move easier on your children. Most importantly, talk openly and honestly with them about what is happening and why. Relate the new life awaiting them to their current routines; if they currently take judo or ballet lessons then reassure them that they can do the same overseas.

Engage loved ones to reinforce messages about the move, and mark scheduled visits with them on the calendar so that your children know they will see them again soon.

Empathise with your children, share your own feelings and be honest with them. Focusing on the positive aspects may help your children to deal with their own emotions; maybe the weather is warmer, the house will have a pool or you will live near a beach. Treat the move as an adventure.

Ensure that your children say a proper goodbye to loved ones as preparation for moving on. This could be with a party, a special event at school, or a small-scale farewell depending on their wishes.

Practical Matters

If possible, plan a move to coincide with the end of a school year so that your children have the summer to settle in before they start a new school.

Research the schooling options and systems in your new country in advance, as school curricula and application processes can differ. For older children, obtain a copy of school records to take with you to speed up the placement process.

Find out about the child benefit process and what documentation you need before you leave your base country. The process can be a lengthy one so submit your application as soon as possible.

Enquire about the local health service and register with a doctor in advance if possible. Ask about child immunisation timetables; this is not standard across the globe. Take copies of your children's immunisation and doctors and dentist records with you overseas to speed up health care formalities.

Packing Up and Moving

Involving your children in the move will help them feel that they are a part of the relocation, and that it is not something happening to them that they have no control over. Getting them to pack up their own room is a good start.

Fill a box or bag with a few of your children's favourite items for the first weeks in your new location. Favourite books, CDs, toys or a blanket are just some of the familiar items that can be of comfort on arrival. It could be weeks or even months before the family possessions catch up with you in your new house.

On moving day, ask grandparents or friends to keep your children, particularly small children, occupied and out of the way whilst you finalise packing.

Setting Up Your New Home

Once you arrive overseas, children will need your support to get used to the changes in their lives. The key is to establish a semblance of your children's former routines.

A practical step you can take is to ask the children to help with unpacking their own things. Get them involved in the layout and decoration of their own bedrooms and play areas, which should be the first rooms to be set up.

For your teenagers, getting the telephone and internet up and running quickly will help them reconnect with their social circle.

To trigger happy memories and ease homesickness, compile a photo book for your younger children. Similarly, asking friends and family to send cards or letters to your children to arrive soon after you move in will also go some way to cheering them up. Reminders of family and friends and familiar places can help them deal with the changes and remind them that loved ones may be further away, but not gone.