Moving With Children

You’ve done it, you’ve moved! All that planning and preparing, all that packing and repacking, coming to terms with the change, feeling excited, feeling nervous. And now here you are, your home for the foreseeable future and – when moving with children – it may be time to start thinking about preschool.

“Get on with it”

I’ve met countless families looking for preschools, those with relocation agents, whole families, one parent that comes alone, parents who take videos on the tour and those who come prepared with a list of questions. Consistently, one of the main questions I’m asked is “how do children manage when going to a new school in a new place?” This is such an important question and there is quite a simple answer for the most part: they just get on with it. 

Now when I say “get on with it”, I haven’t gone mad and think that all children just do what they’re told while gliding seamlessly from one task and on to the next. What I mean is children are resilient and are taking in so much information during their formative years that they are just able to, for want of a better phrase, get on with things. As adults, we often find ourselves projecting our feelings onto a situation and that is what this particular post is for: to help you with those feelings. 

Speak about the move

When I meet families moving with children and looking for a preschool, I always advise them to speak to their child about the move: don’t let it be a surprise, don’t try and “protect” them from it, don’t let the move come out of nowhere as this can be hard for them to deal with. Talk to your child – yes, even your little ones – and tell them about the changes in a way they can understand.

Of course, moving to a new place is totally abstract but, by discussing the upcoming change, you can try and turn it into something tangible. Involve your child in the moving process, let them help pack, show them pictures of their new house, cool stuff nearby, their new preschool’s website. This will begin to create an idea of what things will be like when they arrive in their new city. Talk about the things that you’re going to do when you get there: will you be visiting the local swimming pool or exploring different parks and playgrounds? Plan your “firsts” and look forward to them with your child.  

Ice cream in Singapore

A family I know recently relocated to Singapore and, though it was not their first move with their child, it was the first one when he was old enough to understand. As he loved his school, his friends and his life here in Prague, his parents knew that the upcoming change would not be easy. So what did they do? His parents convinced him that Singapore would be great in a very simple way: ice cream. You see, this child explained to me, there aren’t seasons in Singapore like there are in Prague so it’s always hot. If it’s hot, you can eat ice cream every day! “Hayley, you can visit me in Singapore and eat ice cream in the swimming pool” (pause for emotional tears…okay now we’re back on track).

Some of you may see this as a bribe; tempting the child with treats so they’ll be happy, but I totally disagree! Not only did his parents make this something to look forward to, they made it tangible! We know (well I hope we do anyway, what kind of life is one without ice cream?) what ice cream looks, feels and tastes like. By giving your child something tangible like this, you are helping them start to understand these changes.

Make new traditions

There are articles and other materials that will tell you to keep up with your current traditions and routines but I have to say that this doesn’t make much sense to me and I’ve never seen it have much success. By holding on to your tradition of getting sweeties on the way home from school every Friday like you did back home, for example, you are holding onto something that your child isn’t exposed to anymore.

Why not make a new memory, make a new experience and let the old ones be a nice treat when you visit home? This isn’t just for your child, now, this is also for you; if you spend your time trying to make things as they were in your old city, you’ll never grow to love your new city in its unique way. Let’s trade those trips to the sweet shop on a Friday for going to get a trdelnik (don’t hate me for suggesting it) on a Saturday afternoon walk in the city, instead.  

How did you find the transition? I’d love to hear how you powered through this tough time – especially if you found some good “treat” places!

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