Making your way around the world when you’re not a parent is easy. For the majority of people, you only have yourself to answer to – that is, when you’ve got work and other small life commitments out of the way. Tripping across the country via plane, train or car is something that can be done on a whim, with nobody else’s needs but your own to consider. It’s a bit different when there’s another little human to take care of. Every journey becomes meticulously planned, organized around naptimes and routine. Bags are packed fuller than they have ever been packed before, overflowing with toys and clothes and food; anything to keep your child entertained, even if only for a second. Rather than taking everything as it comes, trips when you get to where you want to go are considered weeks in advance, with reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor scoured to find the most child-friendly activities and places that will benefit from your custom. But what about when we are moving our children and family abroad, either for work or personal reasons? How does that work?
Get All Paperwork Sorted Beforehand
The last thing that you want to be doing is flapping around trying to get everything together last minute. Depending on the country that you are moving to, you will be required to get anything from a visa to an ILR in order to access and remain for a set period. The last thing that you want is a hold up when you are traveling, and in some cases this isn’t just for a couple of hours; it can be days that are taken away from you whilst they’re trying to get things sorted. This is no good if you have children’s needs to consider. If you are unsure of what to do, talk to somebody in your local embassy or do some research online – there are a lot of answers available to any questions that you may want to ask. Give yourself a couple of months to really get everything in order before you start to make a move forward with planning your flights.
Sort Out What Happens When You Land
You need to have an action plan in place for when you land at your destination. Even if it’s just finding a restaurant to get some food, having your actions set in place is an important thing to get sorted. If you have got your real estate sorted, it may just be a case of finding your way there and settling down before everything else starts arriving. If not, make sure that you have got accommodation sorted in a hotel or rented apartment to give yourself some grounding. The most important thing that you need to think of in this situation is giving your children a sense of normality during what is probably the biggest upheaval of their lives. Better would be getting in touch with any friends or family members that you have over there in order to stay with them for a couple of days or weeks to get everything ready in where you’re moving. If this isn’t an option then try and get into where you’ll be moving into as soon as you can so that you can get to work on making it home as soon as you can.
Prepare The Culture
If you are moving to a foreign country where the language is completely different to what your children know and speak, it’s only right to give them a fair chance with learning the language. See if there is anywhere to enroll them in classes – you may have to look for an intensive course if you are moving fairly soon. Only speaking the language that you are learning around the home will definitely help everything to sink in. The younger the children are, the more easier it will be for them to absorb it. Being bilingual isn’t something that is particularly hard for children to master; as long as they are keeping up with it all at school and with friends, it’s a skill that will come naturally to them. You may find that they pick up this piece of learning quicker than you to – a situation of where the child becomes the teacher and roles reverse!
Take Care Of Yourself
You don’t just have to think about what everybody else is feeling – this will only have a negative impact upon yourself. If you don’t look after your own thoughts and feelings, there will come a point where they will begin to swallow you up. If you don’t feel comfortable about any part of the move, talk to somebody about it; even if they don’t know what you’re going through exactly, they may be able to offer some words of advice and pearls of wisdom to help you adjust to what’s happening. Your children come first, but if you’re not taking care of yourself then it’s like the old adage of not being to pour water out of an empty jug; you’ll have nothing left to give to them to help them thrive in their new location.
Be Part Of A Community
The great thing about the internet nowadays is that you can get in touch with practically anyone from anywhere. Being able to pinpoint people that you have the chance of getting on with where you are moving to is vital not just for helping your children to integrate, but for giving you a piece of stability and familiarity wherever you go. If you are moving with work or your partner’s work, you may be more likely to meet people who are in the same position as you – it’s the sense of community that you need in order to feel included and to be able to progress with your lives. Loneliness is a feeling that can really consume a person, when it really needn’t be the case; getting out and mingling can provide some really great surprises when it comes to friendships. You find friends in some unlikely places, and someone that you may never have approached before could turn out to be the best pal that you’ve ever made. If you can’t find anybody on the internet to hang out with when you touch down, look for events that are on in and around your town. This could be anything from a local dance to a knitting club. Even if you have never indulged in any of the activities before, give it a whirl; it may just end up being your new favorite thing.
Be Prepared For Doubt
There is no harm in doubting your decision, especially when you’ve got children involved. You only want what’s best for them, but sometimes it can feel like doing what’s best for them isn’t the best for you, and vice versa. Often, with things like this, it’s just a case of sitting it out and waiting for the feelings to pass. There will be good days and bad days and a whole load of bumps to cross on the journey. It doesn’t mean that the choice that you have made is the wrong one – it just means that things are a lot different. The fact that things are different can be a hard fact to grasp, because no matter how much we try to prepare for change, it can blow up and be so much more than we had originally planned for it to be. Stick with it and see how it goes.