Touring possible living spaces, bright-eyed at an exciting new destination, picturing how your dream home will look like with the bright couch you saved on your Pinterest board — packing your best memories safe in suitcases, and ridding yourself of old items to make way for the new after your relocation. This all sounds very thrilling, right? Well, that’s just part of what makes a relocation an adventure to embark on for many.
Yet, if you are relocating with children — the story usually goes a bit differently. The same excitement is often mixed with crucial family decisions to support you collectively, as best as possible. Within the unsettled times before a relocation, some things often slip one’s mind, so we’re here to remind you of these 5 things to consider when relocating with children.
1. Consider the psychological side
For adults, the concept of moving, although maybe cumbersome, is usually a linear one. We adapt to change one way or another, unshakeable by forms of change — especially since relocation is a premeditated decision.
For children, however, there’s a psychological aspect to consider; a side that will in fact affect the child’s adulthood in the long run. To them, a relocation can highly be taken as a stressor. Consequently, you’ll want the relocation to carry as much of a positive undertone as possible throughout this transitional phase of their lives.
There are many tips and tricks to prepare your child psychologically before a relocation: starting with mapping out what they can expect, involving them in making as many decisions as possible, and giving them closure to the space and faces they’re leaving behind.
Ignoring the psychological angle of a child’s relocation may only complicate things and make the adjustment more difficult to absorb for their growing minds, so it’s better to face this transition with them as a united front.
2. Move along their routine too
To physically relocate is one thing, but to uproot your life is another. Children’s habits and lifestyles are part of shaping their identity throughout every age, therefore, must be taken into account when going through a relocation journey.
To add to it, children’s routines are of the essence in maintaining as much stability as possible during the rocky times of relocation. So when deciding on what neighborhood to choose for your home search, keep your child’s habits in the back of your mind. Is there a park for them nearby if they like the outdoors? Do they prefer to spend more time indoors, such as in libraries or activity centers — and are those accessible in the location you choose?
What’s important to remember is that even the smallest of routine habits that you maintain from one place to another, not only serve in creating predictability but can also be keys to establishing new habits gradually.
3. Tackle the language barrier early on
To a child, a language barrier is exactly that: a massive obstacle that can stand in the way of being able to fit in. The solution? Tackle the language barrier even before you depart.
That’s where BiCortex does it best for everyone involved in a relocation: whether it’s children or adults, offering pre-departure classes, with an option to continue post arrival, in a group as a family, with others, in one-on-one settings, virtually, or on-site.
Tip: Consider combining language training classes with cultural classes, as these two can often go hand-in-hand when it comes to easing the transition of children experiencing a relocation.
For adults, a language barrier may stand in the way of career development, slowing down their integration perhaps, but being able to fit in plays a major factor in a child’s progress after a relocation.
4. Establish a local, safe space
For this item, our word choice behind space is an intentional one as we fully understand that the concept of a safe space differs from one child to another. The real importance lies in establishing a local one at your relocation destination as your child will seek it, especially at the early stages after your move.
It helps to think of the space as a safety bubble: it can be a local community at a place far away from home, a club where attendees share the child’s interests, a tepee tent set up in the backyard, or it could even be the house of a distant family member whom the child has never or rarely interacted prior due to distance.
No matter what the local safe space will look like to your child, respect their time within it as their own. It takes time to adjust, especially after a relocation, whether local or international, so allow your child to process this step at their own pace and within their own pace.
5. Explore schooling options early
This one is completely on you, parent(s) — and probably the last thing on your child’s mind. Planning a relocation is after all a very tactical process, so when a child is involved, extra dates will need to be taken into consideration if they’re at schooling age.
From our experience in relocating families with children, schooling usually affects the area they choose and sometimes even travel dates.
Depending on when your relocation is planned, the timing might fall mid-school-year, or the school you choose may have a waiting list and application deadlines, so do your research and don’t leave anything to chance on this one. Also, if you are moving to a country whose main language is not the same as that on your documents, do your research and find out if there are any document translations required for your child, for instance, birth certificates.
Tip: If your relocation is being sponsored by your employer, always check if school support can be included as part of the package as each country has its own rules and a schooling specialist can advise you best on what and where to consider based on your child’s needs.