Relocating can be stressful for adults. There are so many things to consider, decide and organise. The thought of starting a new life in a different area with unfamiliar surroundings and customs can seem daunting. But as the decision maker, you already know this is the right decision. Younger children are naturally excited about new experiences and it can be easier to get them on board. Teenage children can often be more challenging but there are ways to help make the transition smooth.
The main thing is to remain positive. Despite the strain you may feel, it is so important to maintain an upbeat attitude to avoid your stress or anxiety causing negative feelings for your children. Reassure them every step of the way. For younger children, turn it in to a big adventure and perhaps for older children, frame the move as an exciting, fresh new start which will present them with opportunities they wouldn’t have without the move.
Communication is key to the success of the move. As soon as you know there is even a possibility of a relocation, include your children in the conversations. Explain to them why you are thinking of moving and why it is important to do so. Listen to their concerns and empathise. Tell them you will work through them together and tell them to come to you with their fears, anxieties and questions.
Giving them some control over their environment shows that you value their opinion. Ask them what they would like their new bedroom to be like; colour scheme, theme, particular items of furniture, soft furnishings etc.
Ways to say goodbye
Children are more likely to be receptive to the move and gain closure if it is marked in some way. You could make a book about your current house and/or town or have a big farewell party. This is a great idea for the whole family. Creating ways for your children to stay in touch with their friends is really important. Until they make new friends it will help them to feel less isolated if they can still interact with their current friends.
First things first
When you get into your new home get the children’s rooms set up first. This will give them some stability and familiarity. Having a place that they feel comfortable in and can call their own will work wonders for their settling in.
Retain as much familiarity as possible
Whilst it may seem really difficult at such a hectic time, try to retain a routine as best you can. Stick to mealtimes and bedtimes wherever possible. Ensure there are familiar objects in the house such as furniture and toys and, if you are moving to a different country, perhaps you could take some of their favourite snacks with you or arrange for them to be delivered shortly after arriving.
Get to know your children’s 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!
On their first day, make sure they know where their classroom is, where the toilets are, where the dining room is and all the other basic information they need to make them feel reassured and comfortable. Speak to their teachers if necessary, to raise any specific worries or concerns.
Making new social connections
Making friends and forming relationships is the best way to settle in to a new life, for children and adults alike. You could throw a housewarming party and invite neighbours, school friends and other parents. If you have young children, it’s a good idea to organise as many play dates as possible to help your children, and you, get to know their classmates and parents. Also, signing your children up for activities e.g. scouts/brownies, sports clubs etc will help them to feel more a part of their new home, once they’re involved in activities they enjoy.
Give it time
Don’t be too disheartened if it seems your children are not settling quickly. Experts estimate it can take six months for children to get used to a new living environment. Continue to reassure them, encourage them to make friends and social connections and stay in close contact with the school.
Kalewa, The Warren, Caversham,
1 The Mews,
Gilston Park, Hertfordshire