For very young children, moving house can be very hard indeed. They have become accustomed to their home, their room, their friends and their routines and to leave all this can throw them into confusion.
Help them with your overseas relocation by enabling them to say a proper goodbye to their ‘old’ life.
The importance of saying goodbye
Goodbyes create closure. Closure isn’t just required for children either, it’s important for all the family, including you, to say goodbye to your old home, friends and family. Goodbyes help you to move forward.
Throw a party
Depending on your circumstances and the age of your child, you could throw a small farewell party for them. Don’t make it too much of a big deal as this will emphasise the enormity of the impending move, but a nice get-together of friends and family can help.
Create a goodbye book
Have your child lead you around your house and favourite areas while you take photographs. Print these photos out and make a scrap book of special places and items. Children often have an unexpected way of seeing things that we often miss, so it’s important to get your child’s input into this book.
Encourage your child to tell you why each scene is special to them and write it into the book. Then, when you’re in the new house you can find similarities to point out.
Take a keepsake from the home
I’ve mentioned before about the importance of bed linen and, of course, favourite toys when it comes to settling a child into a new home. You could also put something small from the home into the scrapbook, for example, a piece of bedroom curtain or a scrap of wallpaper. Press a flower from the garden or take a small pebble. Again, be led by your child as they have an eye for the small details we adults don’t notice.
Explain the details
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, children have a peculiar outlook on life! For example, my daughter couldn’t grasp, or accept, the idea of someone else using ‘her’ bedroom. It is a tricky concept to explain to a youngster, but do answer unambiguously. If you will never go back to that house or that country again, tell them. Be honest and make it clear the move is permanent. Clarify that nothing will change within the family, just the house and country.
Your child will need lots of reassurance from you that all is well. Expect to have ups and downs, and part of this will be to explain all sorts of issues again and again. This is all totally normal as young children thrive on routine and stability. If you can keep up normal routines in your new home, you’re halfway through the battle. Introduce new routines gradually and enjoy your new life.
You know your child’s disposition best, so decide what will work for them, and you.