Moving houses is stressful. Now imagine moving countries… and now add a child as well.
For us, adults, is an event of uncertainty, maybe not regarding jobs, but maybe regarding people or environment, but for me, the stress is: how my child will cope with this.
That’s right my dears, I am moving countries (again!). Will continue to travel and work a lot in the UK, in English, and with British brands, while I am based in Portugal for the future time being. As a writer, I can do this even in China if I could do it.
But while we (adults at home) become stressed with sending boxes and all our belongings and where are we going to live, what about my child?
As the daughter of emigrants that travelled a lot, I know how he must feel.
I felt it too, several times to be honest. And that experience brought me some experience in how to act now. Every person is different and has different sensations, but there are some steps to follow:
Have THE Talk
Not that Talk, he still has some years for tween, but sitting him down and tell him the truth. Telling him that we are moving to another home, that it will be a different country with a different language (that he knows), that we will have more people around. Telling the truth, trusting the child is 100% better than saying nothing at all and sending the child to the middle of the uncertainty of a strange place.
Packing with him
After talking, and when you start packing, ask for his help. Make him useful and conscious of this is really happening now. Let him picking up his favourite toys (if you decided not taking all of them), but let him pick his favourite toys, even if they are old and battered, its part of his memories and will make him a bit “at home” in his new home as well as making him responsible for his things. He will appreciate it, and you will have extra help.
A “ME” time
I know how stressful it is to pack everything. But make sure that you have at least an hour during the day and an hour during the bedtime to be with your child. He might, or might not, ask for cuddles but every child needs it. Heck if we as adults need a good cuddle, why shouldn’t we give it to our children? This will assert that you will always have time for him even in a stressful event. Remember: You are his parent and hero.
Have a 2nd Talk and make a routine
Children are used to a routine. As humans, is what we do, its mechanic. But after having your first talk, you need to have a second one and create scenarios to your child, probably several times during your moving and after you reach your destination, about what days you are going to have. Explain that you are going to continue to do the same things as you always: painting, riding a bike, go to the park, etc. Explain as well that you will always have time for him alone. This is very important, especially if you are living among more people. Get our alone, go to the park alone with him, have a day date with cinema and eating out. Popcorns included!
If one of the parents can’t go
Can happen! And here your strength and mental strength will be put in charge and to a bullet-proof experience. Make exactly the same talk and explain why one of the parents is not going. Explain. It doesn’t matter if he is 2 or 8 years old. They are intelligent and like to be treated like that.
Reassure him that you are a family (unless it’s a divorce) and that you always be a family! That mom or dad will be working and will later see him, in a couple of days/months. Make video calls every day. Don’t let the distance be a burden and a sad thing for the child (or for you).
Remember that it’s a question of time and this new adventure will bring many useful experiences and memories.
Simply be happy and make your special person happy.