There is no doubt about it, any moving house event is stressful. So add into that the fact that your children are moving abroad, and you have a very stressful event for them to handle. However, there is also no doubt that moving abroad can be beneficial too. It can provide a broader perspective about the world, whilst giving new experiences, and seeing a different culture, language, and way of living. This is learning outside the classroom at its very best! In this family we love a bit of learning outside the classroom 🙂 Children moving abroad needn’t be a recipe for disaster, but a wonderful experience. I have a few tips that may help anyone with children moving abroad.
Before You Move
- Learn about the country together. Make time to read books together, maybe make a scrapbook, and have a little look at the language with your child before you move.
- See if you can find any stories about children moving abroad.
- Discuss their feeling and emotions. Allow all emotions to be vented. Keep the communication channels open, so if something does crop up at a later date, they know they can come and chat it over with you.
- Before your move, make sure that they say a proper goodbye to their friends. Take photos or swap little presents. We had a little forest school party too as a way of getting everyone together one last time before we left.
On arrival, life could easily run away with itself if you let it. There is paperwork to be sorted, maybe a car, a house etc. For the children moving abroad, they could easily get left to fend for themselves for a few days (understandably) while the grown ups deal with what is being thrown at them. So, here are a few tips to help you during that immediate arrival period. We were very lucky in that we hired a cottage (stuga) for 2 weeks before our lorry arrived. It gave us (and especially myself who had packed up the house single handed while looking after 3 children) some breathing space to adjust a little first.
- With the arrival of the hugest lorry load ever of wordly possessions, that have taken 6 days to arrive, it is very easy to get caught up in the task of unpacking it all. The grown ups, as well as the children, need a break from this. Make sure there is designated time in the day set aside for connecting time with the children. Whether this is a walk or a play outdoors (maybe exploring the new neighbourhood), or collapsing with a drink and a story together, it needs to be done. The children need to feel they are remembered and not a hinderance in this extremely stressful time.
- Try and maintain some of your usual routines. This will help make the children moving abroad feel a little more secure and less anxious.
- Talk, talk, talk. Allow them input in the unpacking (especially their own areas). I know it can be frustrating as we could do it in half the time, but they need to feel useful, and that they have had input into the move too. Let them bring up what they are feeling when they need to. They have a lot of emotions to work through, maybe mirroring a grieving process.
- Get out exploring!! Make it exciting for the children. Go and find new play parks together. Go on walks or bike rides to discover what is in the area.
Settling Down Into Your New Life
It’s an ongoing process for a long time, helping settle children moving abroad into their new country, in our case Sweden. Issues will crop up from time to time, and when you are least expecting them, and about something you would have never even thought would have been an issue. It might be triggered by a telling off, which then brings something to the surface (that has ambushed me before). When the children are tired, they can often pop out with something you hadn’t realised was a problem at all. However, it is important to value them all. I have a few little tips that have helped us along our journey so far.
- Get the children started in a Swedish school asap. This will help with language and making friends, and ultimately settling them quicker.
- Find clubs/activities they enjoyed where you lived before in your new place, so they do not feel they have had to give up their lives/interests fully to move abroad. This again helps with language and making friends as well.
- Allow for FaceTime to their friends and family back home. This one takes a lot of parental commitment, especially with younger children, as firstly they need your device, secondly they need you to ensure it is set up and happens, and thirdly you need to find the time to do it with them. But it is so worth it. Our little lady has played games and performed magic tricks with her friends as if they were in the same room as her. It has been a great thing to have.
- Play dates…set up play dates with their new friends and encourage them to invite people back. This can be very daunting at first as your language skills need improving, but get the Google translate app and muddle through together…it is worth it I promise.
- Have lots of photos from your previous life printed and accessible to your children. Then they can sit and peruse their memories, and again get talking about them.
- Continue to get out and explore your new area. Go on adventures together and make it exciting for them.
I hope these tips have been helpful and useful. I have written a lot more about our move to Sweden throughout the blog in the category about exploring Sweden as well as one about living abroad in Sweden
I have had a similar article published by the Newbieguide.se and it can be found by clicking on the following link http://www.thenewbieguide.se/children-moving-abroad-sweden/ 🙂