How to help little kids move abroad? What a daunting task, it’s a big enough change and upheaval for us adults let alone kids, even just saying those words envisions mega tantrums and endless “what have I done” moments.
Yet, if you decide to go for it never fear there are steps you can take to help little kids move abroad seamlessly.
Make the transition easy and drama free for everyone! Read on.
Explain that it’s like a holiday but you’re actually staying
One of the best things you can do to help little kids move abroad is to prep them in exactly the same way you would a trip because all kids love a holiday, right? This is a sure-fire way to start the excitement happening.
Tell them about all the fun new things they can do, highlighting things which they are unable to do where you are now living, for example if you’re moving to a cold country explain about making snow men, having snow ball fights and spending time by the warm fire, tell them about the different clothes they can wear, they can dress like they’re straight out of frozen for example. Likewise if you’re moving to a hot country explain all the fun that can be had in the sun, like everything water, pistols, balloons, sprinklers, you name it.
Another great point to use to your advantage is highlight things they don’t like that they can say goodbye to. Moving towards the sun? Well no more having to put on layers upon layers of clothing for kids that hate that, just grab a singlet, shorts and thongs! Moving to a colder climate? Not so many mosquitos, creepy crawlies, sunburn or getting too hot.
Our children hated flies with a passion, so we had to find a way to deal with that moving to Australia. After a terrifying few days all it took in the end was a few colourful fly swats and a new game “fly hunter extraordinaire”. Our little hunters actively go seeking them out now and there’s quite a lot of excitement if one sneaks into the house these days.
Let kids have a say in your new home
Little kids love adventure and change within reason. A new home and neighborhood will likely get them excited, however leaving their little friends, family and familiar surroundings will make them very upset. Focus only on the positives! Tell them they can help pick out a new house and have a say in everything. Most kids will get pretty excited about the fact that they can have a brand new room from scratch to design.
Whenever we visit someone or somewhere with stairs the kids are attracted to them like a magnet. This was an exciting selling point for them that we might be able to get stairs, another was a swimming pool and bath, all being things that they really wanted but we didn’t have at present.
Donate old toys and buy new ones
Moving from Finland to Australia we had to throw out a massive amount of stuff. Throwing out kids’ things isn’t easy, they’re like mini hoarders! Sometimes it’s possible to sneak bits and pieces away without being caught (nothing important of course) but mostly we needed permission for everything. No easy feat!
What worked wonders for us was teaching our children to donate toys, they learnt all about making other little kids happy and the reasons for doing so. In the end we would find the bin full of toys “because it means that other children can have toys who don’t have any and they can love them too just like we did!” we were told.
Belongings that were impossible to take but they really wanted to keep we would explain could be replaced. After the initial “no” this tactic also worked well (we did find if they still wouldn’t budge, taking them to the shop to see new versions would make them want to give away the old in favour of the new).
Help little kids move abroad by finding activities they enjoy
Let them see how many activities are around that they enjoy, like going for walks, picnics, playgrounds, beaches, movies etc.. Soon they’ll wake up asking to do one of these.
Make sure to video call loved ones often
Video call your loved ones often and tell your kids you will be doing this. We are fortunate to live in a day and age where this is possible, can you imagine living in the past when there were only handwritten letters? Not so long ago really! Video calling is as close as you can get with loved ones who aren’t near and it’s lovely, everyone can talk and laugh like you’re together. If you talk often you feel closer and it really helps the kids.
Make cards and write letters to loved ones
Spend time making cards and writing letters to family and friends whom you miss. Kids are good at getting their feelings out on paper and most love arty crafty activities, let them express themselves in their own creativity. No doubt they’ll have lots to say and fun while doing it!
Talk often about their feelings
Help little kids move abroad by talking about their feelings, what they miss about their old home and what they like about their new home. Help them by really talking through these feelings. Our children miss their relatives, friends and the snow so we tell them we can see them often on the video and go visit one winter. We play on things they like about their new home, for example they love the beach, so we be sure to take them there often.
Introduce exciting new local foods
Region to region, country to country, different food is everywhere. Our children are either intrigued by the sight of new food or horrified by it but are almost always presently surprised by the taste.
Pick a food they like and show them different variations of it, different fruits, meats, dishes etc, include your kids in the preparation and make it a unique and fun experience.
Explore new nature
Little kids love nature so show them animals and plants unique to your new home. Sure some flora and fauna is very common however seeing it within its new surroundings will make it interesting and somewhat different through a child’s eye. For example the seagull hanging out at Santa Monica pier, California will give a different experience to the child watching it than the seagull at Bondi Beach, Sydney.
With animals you can use their favourite TV shows to your advantage too, for us we could use Peppa Pig and say to our kids “would you like to go see Kylie Kangaroo? She lives where we’re going “.
Use TV programs to help little kids move abroad
Many kids’ programs are international however you’ll more than likely find some unique to where you’re going. Chances are your kids will be excited by at least one of these and in turn could possibly learn more about and become more interested in their new country.
So there you have it, the small details that will help make your transition a smooth, seamless and enjoyable one.
❄️Have you had to help kids move abroad? Was it smooth sailing or jam-packed full of hiccups? We’d love for you to share your experiences in the comments.