advice on settling in to Sydney please!

(26 Posts)
mashedswede Mon 26-Aug-13 04:36:50

First time poster here - hope I get it right! I would love some support/ wise words of advice from anyone in same boat or with experience of moving abroad with children.

So - after 2 years of intense planning we have finally moved to Sydney. This was primarily driven by me rather than my DH and I knew it might be more difficult for my 7 year old dd than for us but didn't really anticipate any real problems.

DD is an only child and is usually happy to be out and about with us but she spent much of this last weekend saying how she hates me and she would do anything to be back home sad. As we don't really know many other people here yet she was on her own with me and DH and she didn't spend any time with other children. I think this was difficult for her - at home she would usually play with friends over the weekend.

I feel awful - I guess that her behaviour is normal to an extent? She has never been this rude and horrible to me before. Is it just her way of expressing her loss of friends and familiarity and things will get better? I would love to hear any useful tips on how to support her and help her adjust to life in Sydney.

We spent the first two weeks doing holiday type activities and now my DH has started work and she has started school so it feels a bit more like 'normal life' but we still don't have our stuff as it is in a container and won't be here for another 2- 3 weeks. We are doing indoor camping in our new flat and the novelty has worn off and I am feeling a bit lost..........Thanks for reading

Thumbwitch Mon 26-Aug-13 04:44:46

Oh goodness, you poor things!

I don't have direct experience, because DS1 was 20mo when we moved out here so a lot less worried about where he was; but I made sure that we kept back some of his special stuff to bring in our luggage with us, so he had some familiar stuff with him. I presume you've already done this with DD?

Are you renting or have you bought somewhere - one way to help DD settle might be to let her decorate her room, get her some special stuff so that she has a safe haven. It would be very difficult for her at this stage, I'm sure - she's just realised it's NOT a holiday and she WON'T be going "home" to (presumably) the UK and the reality has kicked hard.

Has she said anything about school? Are they looking after her, making sure she has people to talk to etc.? Must be so daunting for her to go into a new school, where everybody talks differently and have all their friendships set up already.

I would agree that her behaviour is fully linked to her sense of loss, unease, and yes she probably does dislike you just now for forcing her into this situation! She'll get over it though.

Where are you in Sydney? There are a few of us expat MNers out here - I'm a fair way up, 1.5h north of Sydney - and we meet up every now and then in Sydney - maybe you're quite close to another MNer who can take you out for a coffee!

Are you working, or just your DH?

mashedswede Mon 26-Aug-13 05:05:37

Hi Thumbwitch, thanks for your speedy response.

We are renting in Mosman, and we have made her room look as homely as possible with some toys and books etc. from home. The school have been very welcoming and she has made some friends already but it is quite different to her previous school (much bigger and more formal) which must make it harder for her. I know it is really early days but am feeling so guilty that she is feeling sad.

I will look for work at some point but we have decided that I will wait for a few months to get DD feeling settled first.

If there is anyone around who would like to meet for coffee let me know!

Thumbwitch Mon 26-Aug-13 05:16:20

OK, what I will do is PM a link to your thread to the MNers I know in Sydney - I don't think any of them are in Mosman but they might be close - certainly closer than I am! grin

Is this a permanent move for you, do you think? OR at least permanent for now, assuming you all settle in ok?

bunnygirl80 Mon 26-Aug-13 05:41:56

No advice on the issues with your dd I'm afraid as both of my dcs were born here. It does sound like a reasonably normal reaction though. Maybe she will be happier when all her things arrive in your container.

I'm in Lilyfield, which is only about a 15-20 minute drive from Mosman over the bridge. I'm also on mat leave for another couple of months, so I'm available for coffee if you'd like

mashedswede Mon 26-Aug-13 06:06:22

Thanks both. We have permanent residency visa but haven't sold our house in UK yet for various reasons. We're planning to be here for at least 3 - 4 years and will reassess then for the long term plan.

Will pm you bunnygirl - would be lovely to meet if you have time. I don't have a car but happy to get the bus

abithormonal Mon 26-Aug-13 06:07:24

Again not much help my two were born here too, and only three and 18 months

There's not that much left of the school year so probably best to make to the most of any friends, if it were me I'd ask enyone and everyone out, coffee and cake, picnics before you get your stuff back. The new year should be better but starting any new school anywhere in the middle of the year is a tough one.

Maybe some classes to help occupy the weekend? www.webchild.com.au/sobi2/sydney has some good ideas.

Mosman Mon 26-Aug-13 06:22:12

My 9 year old - well 8 at the time reacted in exactly the same way. You're lucky in that you can invest time in building friendships at the school gates, I never did that and it's been to our great discredit as it didn't help the children at all.

Mutley77 Mon 26-Aug-13 07:03:51

I really feel for you. We arrived in Australia six months ago and I have had the hardest six months of my life I think. We arrived with 2 DC (8 and 4), 24 weeks pg with number 3. Both children struggled to some degree and I would say that DS (4) has only just come out of the worst of it. My children were perhaps better off in that they had each other for company but I totally relate to your situation of your daughter playing with her friends at weekends - we are all really sociable and there were usually loads of friends around, adults and children in England (and our family were fairly local too).

I am still finding it hard to make friends - I've met a lot of people but no-one I really click with. However on the bright side my children have made friends. My tips would be to get her into activities at weekends (DD aged 8 does choir, synchronised swimming and swimming - 2 of which are on a Saturday) - it kind of makes the weekends more structured with less potential to miss home and friends. If you are in a position (furniture wise) to invite her friends round after school do that too - or offer to take another child to the park with you?

Nothing else I can really suggest except give it time. It does get better - and I do think quicker for children as they are set up really with school and a routine.

Thumbwitch Mon 26-Aug-13 07:15:00

Where are you based, Mutley? I've probably asked you before but I have a head like a sieve until I've met people blush

SavoyCabbage Mon 26-Aug-13 07:23:47

My dd was five when we arrived and had done a term at school and had to get through the who,e six weed holidays, all lonely, before school.

I was talking to anyone with children, asking them questions, even if I already knew the answers. When she started school I took making friends for myself and her into a full time job. I went to anywhere anybody asked me. It was like dating-American style.

Events and occasions are the hardest. My dd an see there are no grandparents watching her in the school play and when all dr friends go to their family for the easter weekend, we don't.

Eventually they start to forget the people they have left behind.

StupidFlanders Mon 26-Aug-13 07:36:03

It must be hard at the moment.

I'm not in sydney but I think savoy gives great advice.
Fake it til you make it basically.

I hate to say this but try to be really positive about Australia when talking to parents and be quite honest about looking for people to hang out with during the day/weekends. Invite friends to your place if the invites dont come your way.

Your dd will be fine in a couple of weeks!

mashedswede Mon 26-Aug-13 10:28:02

Thanks for link abit - I think the advice to find classes/clubs on the weekend is really helpful and I will check out what is on in the area.

Appreciate you sharing your experiences Mosman and Mutley - just to reassure me that it is a fairly normal reaction. I know I'm lucky to have time to spend with her - we'll be skint but hopefully we'll be able to make some new friends in the next few months.

Good idea about inviting friends to park to play - I hadn't thought of that. I will see if I can hang around the school a bit more at drop off and collection and try to chat to the other mums. It doesn't come naturally to me to be so obvious about making friends but I guess I will need to go beyond my comfort zone for this!

SavoyCabbage Mon 26-Aug-13 10:46:27

Yes, you do have to work at it. You have to use your newness to your advantage. I must have asked 30 people about swimming lessons. If someone said they needed a new waste paper bin, I was at ikea with them! I've got more friends here then I had before because it was sink or swim.

At our school a lot of people hang back and play in the playground. Our school also has a toddler group and encourages parent helping in the classroom.

newbiefrugalgal Mon 26-Aug-13 22:56:40

Nippers will start soon. Usually on Sunday morning at your local beach (manly or Steyne).
Could be different activity to meet families.

How about swimming lessons - warringah swimming pool is fairly close.

Mutley77 Tue 27-Aug-13 06:08:31

thumbwitch I'm in perth not sydney.

Mosman Tue 27-Aug-13 08:37:32

We must have that Perth meet up in fact i'm going to get that thread started now.

mashedswede Tue 27-Aug-13 10:03:34

Thanks all for your tips and support.

We are now signed up to swimming lessons. I'm pleased to report that dd has been on first play date and I was also invited so got a chance to chat which was lovely.

I look forward to the next Sydney mumsnet meet up.

dutchwifey Tue 27-Aug-13 11:08:03

Hi mashedswede
I have also recently moved to Australia, however I am on the central coast- which is about 90 minutes north of Sydney. Is there a way for you to meet people through your husband's work? I've met a lot of good friends this way. Also through swimming lessons as its so easy to sit and chat to other parents for the duration of the lesson!
I'm sure your dd will settle soon, my boys are a lot younger so we didn't seem to have too many issues with moving (plus this is the third country we have lived in in 2 years!)

Thumbwitch Tue 27-Aug-13 13:43:45

Hello dutchwifey! I'm a teeny bit north of you - perhaps we should have our very own meet up! Will PM you. smile

redvelvetpoppy Wed 28-Aug-13 00:54:59

Hi mashedswede

I'm another one in Sydney, with a 5yo DC - we moved when he was 3 & I have been a SAHM to him while settling in. Like Savoy I made building a network for us a full time job. I have made friends on the street, the park, the train station platform as well as signing DC up to every activity we could afford grin.

It's paid off, we have a better social life here than we did in the UK! I second saying yes to each & any invitation & always being positive/smiling/full of questions. I've found people to be really welcoming & friendly in our 'burb.

It's taken 2y for me to get my qualifications recognised so while waiting to go back to work I did regular babysitting for several local families & made firm friends through that for both me & DC.

I'm happy to meet up for a coffee as well, am in the South but only 30 mins from the city

mashedswede Wed 28-Aug-13 03:32:24

Fab - this all sounds very encouraging.

My plan is to enrol her in a couple of clubs and hang around school before and after school, chat to everyone and say yes to any invitation.

I must say everyone does seem very friendly at school so far so I am feeling more optimistic about everything than a couple of days ago.

I have pm'd you redvelvetpoppy about coffee.

justaboutreadyforbed Wed 28-Aug-13 04:07:08

Hi, we moved to NZ with an 7, 5, and 3 year old. I was shocked by how the 7 year old struggled initially, wanting to go back to England etc.

A year on, he was over it. Very happy here now.

Ninehoursahead Wed 28-Aug-13 05:23:48

Hi, didn't want to read and run, but we are in manly and part of an expat support group. We've been here for 3.5 years now and although its been hard, we would never go back!
If you pm me I can send you details of our group's Fb page. My kids are quite a bit younger than your DD but there are lots of parents with the same aged kids who might have some advice for you

FrozenYogurt Wed 11-Sep-13 16:16:34

Hi ninehours I am moving to Manly at the end of November and would be very grateful to be added to your FB page too. I have two under threes and will be looking for some friends when we get there. (Sorry, I don't know how to PM!)

Hey mashedswede I know what it's like. My ds1 found it really hard settling in. He was 8 1/2 when we moved over. I am in Manly too, and probably on the same fb page as ninehours. I'm rarely on mumsnet any more but if you send me a pm it will go to my e-mail. Happy to meet up for a coffee sometime (Wednesdays best).

FrozenYogurt, Manly is a great place for families especially with young children. I bet you will love it.

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