When to tell dc we are moving abroad?

(102 Posts)
pickupstix Thu 14-Oct-21 11:56:29

Long story short we recently finally got visas for a move that has been in the pipeline with dh job for a while, to the US (New York). This will most likely happen in early feb next year. Dd is 7 in a couple of months, very settled at school where she has been since attending toddler groups, she has a couple of good friends and does some extra curricular activities she likes, basically I think the move will be a tough thing for her to get her head round, but for various reasons it is definitely the best move for our family right now and we are going. I’m currently of the view that I can hold off on telling dd this is happening for a bit longer, she’s quite sensitive and will dwell on it and get upset about leaving friends etc, so I want to limit the amount of time she has to do that before we go. But am I wrong? Would you tell her now? Never done this before so appreciate the help very much!

OP’s posts: |
ZZTopGuitarSolo Tue 19-Oct-21 15:16:28

Well done - really nice to see MN posters being able to help, and to hear how it went. Good luck with the move!

pickupstix Tue 19-Oct-21 14:56:41

@Kpo58 yes, not sure why you think we wouldn’t

OP’s posts: |
Kpo58 Tue 19-Oct-21 14:50:11

If you do buy a dog out there, are you going to make plans so that you can bring the dog back to the UK once the 2-4 years is up?

pickupstix Tue 19-Oct-21 13:58:42

hello, thought i'd update as we told dd on sunday. i made a presentation and got it printed out (thanks so much to the poster who gave me this idea... it was perfect). she cried at first, mainly just worried about not seeing her friends again, but since then she's been mainly excited and happy talking about it and has been keen to share the news. i think it helps that i agreed we could finally get a dog when we are settled out there...!
i guess now, i just feel some lingering anxiety over whether she is going to be ok moving away from her friends etc as she has always lived here, but equally i know its normal for primary age kids to move, and there's no real upside to staying put.
thank you so much for all the replies on this thread. i think telling her was the right thing to do, and she's reacted a lot better than i expected, really.

OP’s posts: |
Insert1x20p Fri 15-Oct-21 01:26:15

7 year olds really don’t operate on an x is leaving in 4 months (weeks/days!) so I won’t be their friend level!

Possibly not, but parents do, and tbh, I don't blame them. If my DC had a fairly narrow friendship group (i.e. a defined best friend rather than lots of equal friends) and I new that BFF was leaving in 4 months, I'd be encouraging my DC to diversify now, not leave it till she's standing in the playground alone in February. So I might start inviting other kids for days out/ playdates etc. over kid that's leaving. It's not that the OP's DC will be ostracised, but that different decisions may be made - for example if a less close friend is allowed 8 kids at their party and the OP's DC would have been number 8, it's possible she won't make the cut, especially if it's marginal - ie you can invite the kid who is leaving in 3 months or you can invite the kid who invited you to her party last month. Obviously these things can be hurtful to the departing child.

It is dynamic dependent- if there's a group of say, four kids, who are a close gang, then it probably wont make much difference as the other three will still have each other. Also depends if the parents are friends or not.

But as an expat of 13 years I can tell you that "phasing out" absolutely happens.

ZZTopGuitarSolo Thu 14-Oct-21 22:47:11

cheeseismydownfall

*ZZTopGuitarSolo*, re. the returning I'm January thing, I wasn't so much thinking of the weather, although you are of course right that the UK will most likely be warmer (we were moving back from the Midwest so had also got used to very cold winters). It is more about how it is just a gloomy and depressing time of year!

This is true - the days are VERY short in the UK in January!

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gogohm Thu 14-Oct-21 20:41:45

If she's 7 I would wait until after Christmas, 6-8 weeks out is fine. I told my kids straight away (they were 5&7) and dates slipped and ended up being 8 months, next time it happened (jobs!) I told them 6 weeks out

MilduraS Thu 14-Oct-21 20:37:50

I was 8 when my parents told me and very excited. My 6yo sister was the same. It was the two teenagers who were less than impressed.

cheeseismydownfall Thu 14-Oct-21 20:29:41

Something else to consider is what your options are if you decide that you love it and want to stay long term. We were on L1 (DH)/L2(the rest of us) which gave us a maximum of seven years, but DH's employer made it clear that they would not sponsor a green card. I found it quite tough psychologically knowing that there would come a time when we would be forced to leave. It's a strange feeling.

cheeseismydownfall Thu 14-Oct-21 20:26:04

ZZTopGuitarSolo, re. the returning I'm January thing, I wasn't so much thinking of the weather, although you are of course right that the UK will most likely be warmer (we were moving back from the Midwest so had also got used to very cold winters). It is more about how it is just a gloomy and depressing time of year!

Dustingiseasy Thu 14-Oct-21 19:51:21

Thank you @pickupstix

pickupstix Thu 14-Oct-21 19:31:17

@dustingiseasy we got an expedited appointment with the embassy after about 6 months of waiting, turnaround from getting visa appt to having the visas in our passports was about 5 weeks in the end so depending on your visa type etc it can be quick even now!

OP’s posts: |
Oblomov21 Thu 14-Oct-21 19:22:54

I don't like lying by omission. I'd tell her now. Start slowly sewing the seeds. Daddy might get a new job .....

MalteseBubs Thu 14-Oct-21 19:18:09

As someone who moved country as a child a few times I was told less than a month before it happened and as I made friends really quickly I soon forgot my old friends in that it didnt upset me or hold me back in any way.
The longer you have to think about it the more anxious you'll get if you're that way inclined.

Dustingiseasy Thu 14-Oct-21 19:11:27

How long did you h e to wait for your visas @pickupstix - if that’s okay to ask.

ZZTopGuitarSolo Thu 14-Oct-21 19:03:45

cheeseismydownfall

And another tip - do NOT return in January - it is far, far to miserable at that time of year!

TBF if you're returning from NY to the UK, January in the UK will probably seem balmy by comparison.

ZZTopGuitarSolo Thu 14-Oct-21 19:02:32

cheeseismydownfall

We moved to the US when ours were 8 (only just), 5 and 3.

I did a Powerpoint presentation for them (I am not kidding) and DH and I sat them all down together and took them through it. It covered (with LOTS of pictures) -

- why we were going
- when we were going (with a countdown of the days so that they could understand the timescales)
- how we would get there (lots of detail here)
- how are belongings would get there, and what they would be able to take with them straight away (this is important to them)
- where we would live
- what their new school looked like
- things that would be the same (daily routine, family, homework, able to some some of the same activities etc)
- things that would be different (weather, some holidays, new friends, no school uniform)
- some of the exciting things we would be able to do (adventures, travel, skiing etc)
- how/when we would be seeing family/visiting the UK.

We then printed it all out and put it in a binder that they could all revisit in their own time as different bits of it sunk in.

It felt a bit mad at the time but is actually worked pretty well I think and the move went really smoothly.

Moving back again three years later was MUCH bumpier but that's another story...

This is amazing! I wish I'd thought of doing something like this.

DH had to move out 2.5 months before we did. One thing that really helped my oldest DD (age 6, quite anxious) was to have a printed out calendar on the wall showing days until we moved out and were with daddy again.

We crossed off each day and she got more and more excited as we got closer to the time.

Some advice for the OP - try to have a week off at your new house before your kids go to school. They'll be tired and jetlagged and they'll already be adjusting a lot.

It would give you time to explore your area, find the YMCA/parks/pond to feed the ducks/local shops/whatever. Also time to buy those things that are much easier to get in NY eg snowboots.

Also I'm not sure how it works in NY, but here there are loads of out-of-school activities and sports available through our local community services office, and they often have a fairly strict sign-up deadline - see if you can find that info before you go.

Also make sure you have their vaccination records as you'll need those to register at school.

flippertyop Thu 14-Oct-21 18:32:28

Wait till nearer the time

ZZTopGuitarSolo Thu 14-Oct-21 18:27:47

Kuachui

Your going to move her to America just to move her back again In a few years???
Sorry but I just think that's not right... Takes a year or 2 to get settled anywhere so just when she's settled and has friends again your going to relocate again. It's not right

Meh - DH and I both moved around a lot as kids, including to a variety of countries, and it was good for us. I know when I eventually moved back to the UK I was a bit taken aback by how small-minded people were, and at university I gravitated towards the people who'd had broader life experiences.

ZZTopGuitarSolo Thu 14-Oct-21 18:25:21

pickupstix

*@Kuachui* I don’t think that’s necessary. Without going into details it’s a big opportunity for our family and I did say it’d be anything from 2-4 years but I want dd to go to secondary in the U.K. or Ireland, where dh is from, I don’t rate public high schools in the us (have family there who have had a lot of issues with them and with transitioning to a decent university).

US high schools have been great for mine - they're all very different. I have one who's a bit of a nerd so she went to a magnet school, went on to a top 10 university (with scholarship). Another who loved the local school - she's a fairly average student but also ended up with a scholarship to her first choice university. And one still at high school who's very practical and rather than having to schlep through loads of academics is choosing to do practical classes and loving it.

DH and I both went to UK high schools, and DH used to be a UK high school teacher - our kids are having a much better experience than either of us did.

New York has good schools - you might find yourself not wanting to leave. Who knows? I think you're at least making the moves at the right ages.

cheeseismydownfall Thu 14-Oct-21 16:27:42

And another tip - do NOT return in January - it is far, far to miserable at that time of year!

cheeseismydownfall Thu 14-Oct-21 16:22:39

And yes to what daisybank says about securing school places back in the UK. It was unbelievably stressful.

cheeseismydownfall Thu 14-Oct-21 16:21:25

pickupstix

Curious to those pps who have said coming back was harder, why is that?

So many reasons, but I guess I can sum it up by saying it was the end of an amazing adventure and it was just really hard to let go of that. It was such a special time for our family and brought us all so close together.

Heading out, you are prepared for challenges and obstacles and nasty surprises, and you have the excitement and the emotional equivalent of adrenaline to get you over the hurdles. And when you have the knowledge that it isn't forever (we were on a three-year secondment) it is easy to just let go of the negatives and enjoy the positives.

Coming back you actually face many of the same practical issues but with fewer upsides. Being back with family and friends is of course a benefit, but their lives have moved on and it can be harder than you expect to reintegrate. And for me personally, I simply love the US beyond any other country and it was a massive wrench to return to the UK. I'd say it took a good 18 months to be able to feel any joy.

That said, I have a friend who did a similar secondment - she hated it and was absolutely delighted to come back. So I guess it depends on what you consider success to look like!

I would say coming back at least a couple of terms before your DC starts secondary is a good idea. It made a might difference to our eldest DC to have a few familiar faces when he moved up (we returned Jan in Y6).

daisybank2 Thu 14-Oct-21 16:19:47

pickupstix

Curious to those pps who have said coming back was harder, why is that?

Hardest bit of coming back was securing (state) school places, as have to make move back and then wait and see what spaces there are available in the borough. But again, we did tell them all along that we would come back and that they may not get back into their old school. Thankfully, they did all get in, however not in same classes as they were before we left. Also, friendships had changed meanwhile. But they just went with it and were fine.

However, any negatives along the way or upon return were far outweighed by the positives of experiencing a different culture and the 'adventure' and opportunities we had. Several school mums couldn't believe we were taking the 'risk' of taking dc out of school and moving abroad. But we didn't miss anything being away - and the dc settled back quickly. It was more stressful for us parents, as moving always is!

TheUndeadLovelinessOfDemons Thu 14-Oct-21 16:05:14

Kuachui

Your going to move her to America just to move her back again In a few years???
Sorry but I just think that's not right... Takes a year or 2 to get settled anywhere so just when she's settled and has friends again your going to relocate again. It's not right

Oh bollocks. My cousins lived in America for 2 years then came back, they were fine. Also DS's friend moved to Canada for a year and was fine when she came back.

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