21 September 2011

Moving with Littles - Guest Post

Knowing that Laura has moved overseas and has a young daughter, I asked her for some tips on moving overseas with children.  She graciously submitted this guest post for me, addressing that very topic.

As a family of expats, we move a lot. Often we even move within the same country or within the same concession, depending on availability of housing. Since my daughter’s birth a little less than three and a half years ago, we have lived in three countries and have moved into as many houses (we’re planning to move from our studio into a larger house in a couple of months time). And then I’m not even mentioning the rentals and camping out at relatives in between.

Moving with children can be challenging, not in the least because it is stressful for the parents too. Here are a few suggestions for making the transition and the work in entrails as peaceful as possible.
  1. Prepare!   Preparation is the most important thing when it comes to moving. I'm not only talking about the boxing and taping and de-cluttering, I'm talking mental preparation. Start talking to your child about the move - no matter how small she is -  well in advance. Make the move more sensible by discussing the region/country/neighborhood you’ll be moving into. if it is possible to have a visit there, bring your kids so they can see where they are going. Show them pictures, read up on the place. Talk to them about the house and how it will be.
  2. Careful about the rosy glasses!  Don’t try to depict the move as all positive, which might be setting yourself and your child up for disappointment. You are probably (hopefully) looking forward to the move, but calculate that there might be downsides too, don’t ignore this, but talk about it. Your child might not see some of his friends any more, you might be moving away from family... Try to find a balance between the positive and the negative sides of this move when you talk to your child, so he has a good idea of what’s going to happen.
  3. Involve your child.  Have your child pick out the toy and clothing he wants to keep aside for the day(s) you’ll be travelling. Ask her to rummage through her things and sort out what she doesn’t need any more. If she is willing, she can fill a box of toys and personal belongings to ship to the new destination.
  4. Everything goes.  Make sure your child understands that you are de-cluttering too, and that your personal stuff goes in boxes too. 
  5. While you were sleeping.  Try to keep the more tricky stuff for when your child is sleeping or out playing. It can be a handful to pack when your child keeps unpacking the boxes. This might also be a good idea for some of their affairs.
  6. Keep things in their room/area as long as possible.  Pack the things your child uses most often last. You could organise that on the last day, your child is out with a relative or your significant other, so you cab pack up the things he can play with until the end.
  7. Pack the things you never or rarely use first.  We tend to pack things in order of use. We’d first pack things we have in storage, then the things we only use on occasion, then the things you don’t need like decorations, and then we start cutting into the things we do need until we’ve reached the bare minimum (like only leave two towels at the end...).
  8. Start well in advance.  If you take your time moving, just picking and boxing things as you find a moment, you won’t be as stressed when you reach D-Day, and you’ll avoid the ‘I’ll never get it all done’ stress.
  9. Keep some entertainment aside.  Do not make the mistake to end up in an empty house with nothing to do. Keep something aside for everyone in the family to pass the last moments in peace and entertained. You might like a book or a few DVD’s and art supplies are a good idea to keep aside for your children. 
I hope these tips will help you prepare your move in all serenity.

Author: Laura Schuerwegen
Blog: Authentic Parenting 

Bio: Laura is a mother, wife and writer, who swapped the life she studied for to have a more connected family under the African tropics. After lots of travelling, she and her family are now living in DR Congo. She writes about natural living at Authentic Parenting.

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