Relocation can be a stressful time for everyone, and if you’ve got kids tagging along it can be even more difficult.  How can you make it as easy as possible for them?  Read on for some top tips:

Tell your children as soon as possible

Don’t put it off –  tell your children as soon as possible and continue to communicate with them about the move.  The longer they have to digest the information the easier it will be for them to get used to the idea.  You should explain why you’re moving in terms that they can understand  – the more informed they are, the better they will cope throughout the process.

Older children can be prone to rebel as they are more likely to have fears about leaving the security of all that they know including their friends, their neighbourhood, their school, even their bedroom.  The best way to help them overcome their fears is to understand what they are and address them one by one.

Treat your move as a positive thing

We know this is a very stressful time for the whole family but if you can be enthusiastic about the move then your children are more likely to follow suit.

Engage with the local community where you’ll be moving

Research the area you’re moving to and involve your children in the research – find out what local facilities there are for kids and if there are any clubs aimed at your child’s particular interests.
Depending on where you are moving to there may well be a local community of Expats from your country – take a look at some of the online expat forums such as:

http://www.expatforum.com/expats/britain-expat-forum-expats-living-uk/

http://www.theamericanhour.com/

These forums are great places to have all your questions answered by someone who knows exactly what you’re going through.

Start the school search early

Engaging the services of an Education consultancy in the UK can make things simple.  These specialist consultants are experts in both State and Independant school systems.  They work closely with you to match your child’s needs and education requirements with the most appropriate schools and then guide you through the application process to secure your child’s place.

If you are doing the research and application process yourself then a great place to start is here:

http://www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk/.

Involve your children in the move 

Give them things to do – the more involved they feel the better.  If possible get them to help choose the new house – or at least ask for their views.  Get them excited about all the new things they will have at their new home.  Sketch a rough plan of their new bedroom and ask them to think about how they want to arrange things when they arrive.

Get older children to pack up all the contents of their room – younger children could pack a box with special toys.

Saying Goodbye

Often the most emotional part of the move for you and your children is saying goodbye to your friends, family and home.  For older children you could throw a party and encourage them to exchange contact details with all their friends so they can easily keep in touch.

Children will have lots of memories of their home so take lots of pictures before you start to pack.

If you are leaving treasured family pets behind it may help the children to be  involved in finding them a new home where they know they’re going to be loved.  Arrange for regular updates.

Settling In

Its a good idea to move during school holidays so that the children have time to get used to their new home and neighbourhood before starting school.

When you arrive, set up your childrens’ rooms first – this will help them to settle in and will give them a base with all their familiar items.

Get connected to the internet as soon as possible so that your children can communicate with their friends back home.

Don’t try to unpack everything straight away – take little discovery breaks – go to the shops, take a walk to the local park, meet your neighbours, etc.

Signing your children up to local activities that they have previously been involved with will help them to meet new friends with similar interests.

Try to uphold family rituals – If Monday night has always been “pizza night” then make sure you keep this up after the move – this will establish continuity.

Adjusting to life in the UK

Each child will adjust to life in the UK in their own time – some will settle in straight away while others might take a few weeks or even months.  Given time they will begin to assimilate aspects of the British culture and soon enough they’ll feel right at home.

Practicalities

You should register the whole family with your local NHS Doctor and a Dentist.  To find your nearest go to the NHS Website:

http://www.nhs.uk/pages/home.aspx.

Children are generally very well cared for within the NHS which means there are very few specialist paediatric units in the private sector.  Those that do exist are in major city’s such as London.  You’ll find lots of information about all types of private healthcare here:

http://www.privatehealth.co.uk/

If you are thinking of hiring a nanny or childminder, there are many agencies to choose from such as:

http://www.slmrecruitment.co.uk/

http://www.imperialnannies.com/.

Expat children experience the world in a different way to most people and the so called phenomenon of “third culture kids” (children who spend a significant portion of their developmental years in a culture outside their parents’ passport culture(s)) – is increasing exponentially.  There can be major benefits and a resulting different way of seeing things.