Top Tips for a Stress-Free Family Move – At the New Destination
1. Make the transition fun. As well as being unsettling and tiring, moving from your home country can be fun! Plan to splurge a little bit on transitioning from one home to another – maybe visit some fun, kid-friendly restaurants, go to the cinema/theatre or visit an indoor play frame.
2. Where possible, involve the children in the home choice process. If possible, take your older children along on your home search visits. Most Consultants are happy for them to attend and can arrange for the (legally-required) car seats to be available for them. Make it clear at the outset of any home search visit that the final decision is up to the adults, but that their opinions will be considered. We would not advise bringing very young children along though – home search days can be very long and can lead to tantrums in even the most angelic of toddlers! If you can’t take them along, you can still keep them involved. Take pictures/video of the houses you're considering and bring them back to show them. A temporary nanny can be arranged to look after your children if required.
3. Maintain familiar routines. Once you're in your new home, some things may have to change, but try to maintain the aspects of your life that are most important to your kids. Stick to familiar bedtime routines and continue any other family 'habits' that you can.
4. Make their bedroom the top priority. Ensure they have anything with them that will help them settle in quickly e.g. their favourite toy, comfort blanket or duvet cover. Let them pick a couple of new items that will make their new room feel special to them e.g. a new cushion, alarm clock or some posters. Having a place that they feel comfortable in and can call their own will work wonders for their settling in.
5. Unpack the items that make your house a home first. Research has shown that people who unpack items that have emotional significance early on settle quicker. This could include photos of family and friends, pictures/paintings, duvet covers or favourite toys. Let your children decide what is most important for them.
6. Get to know your child’s new 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! Make sure your child visits the prospective schools with you – it is only by visiting the schools that you will get a true feeling of the atmosphere there. Make sure your child knows where their classroom would be, where the toilets are, where the dining room is, and all the other basic information they would need on their first day. Many independent schools run a buddy system for new children – these are absolutely invaluable for helping them to fit in quickly. If they are offered a buddy, it is always wise to accept them. If your child has any particular interests or hobbies, find out if there is a club covering that interest at the school – it will be much easier to make friends with other kids that they have something in common with.
If you can spare the time, try to volunteer for any Parent/Teacher association aligned with the school – this is an invaluable way of making friends and becoming truly integrated to an area.
7. Find something new. Find something new, good and different about the new house or town and play it up. Give this new place something the old one didn’t have. Perhaps it has a duck pond nearby or a rickety old street that you can play hopscotch on? Every place will have something – try delving into your inner child to find it for them!
8. Add some extras. Sign your children up for some extracurricular activities e.g. scouts, guides, clubs, etc. These smaller clubs may provide a welcome group of new friends for them. They’ll feel more a part of their new home once they’re involved in activities. Try to keep one activity that isn’t with the school – this will help them to broaden their friendship base and give them a break from thinking about school all the time.
9. Keep the moving boxes as long as possible. Once you've unpacked, keep the moving boxes for your children to play with. With just a little bit of help, they’ll have great fun making, decorating, and playing with their home-made castles, trains, cars, etc...
10. Explore, explore, explore! Once you arrive in the new place, start exploring. What does your new location have that you’ve never experienced? Start reaping the benefits of your new environment right away. Your kids will feel like they’re on an extended holiday!
Top Tips for a Stress-Free Family Move – At the New Destination Article contributed by: Marie Darlow, Marketing Director, The Relocation Consultancy