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Your best advice for helping kids to settle in a new country(13 Posts)
My dds are 4 and 7 years old. I am most worried about the 7 year old as she has to negotiate school. We are lucky in that there won't be language issues ( well theoretically anyway. We are moving to Canada so I have been teaching her the Canadian words for things.... Eraser for rubber, truck for lorry etc.). Any tips from those who have gone before? Although we don't know anyone there I thought I might try and find a babysitter for my littlest daughter so that I could do school drop offs and pick ups with just my eldest so that she would have me to herself.
Stop worrying and start thinking about all the positive things in your life. You could be unemployed, you could be homeless, you could have lost your partner, you could have a disabled child. You have a life, live it and stop seeing problems that might not even be there. You are so so lucky.
I think that being positive is a good thing. If you are worried, your dd will be too. I think leaving your other dd with a new babysitter would just add stress to the situation so I would take her with you.
Someone advised me to take souvenirs of your home country to a new one (pens, keyrings etc) to hand out to a new class. We're trying this as we move this summer from Asia to USA, sounds like a good idea to make new friends. Also find out if anyone else is new in the class and try to arrange a play date after school. Kids adapt really easy but the key is to be positive yourself as they will take their cues from you.
I agree take them both - my DS once made a friend at school because the little sister started playing together (obviously less shy!) which prompted me to talk to the mum, and then the boys connecting ...
For me its more important to find time away from the school run to hang out and chat if things are bothering her.
And play dates, play dates and more play dates - accept every invite, invite everyone. Things will settle down but the more connections you and the kids make then the odds are better for making friends. Caveat if your eldest is very shy this may be her idea of hell so won't work.
Things may take a few months but approach the experience with open arms and it will be fine. Good luck!
I would also say to look at the positives about your new adventure.
Children are much more resilient than us adults, we are the ones that worry! We moved back to the UK last year but to a new area not knowing anyone and ds (12) has taken it all in his stride, we were fortunate that the church we attend arranged for him to meet children that would be starting year 7 with him so that he would at least have one or two friendly faces. Can you contact school and see if they can put you in touch with other parents? Or are they now closed for the summer?
Butterflies that is a good idea about the souvenirs - could be the ideal ice breaker.
And also take a few personal things in your luggage so your dc have something familiar from home for their new home
I've done this 5 times and my children are ok! Their ages range from 20 to 11. if you have air freight allowance / business class luggage allowance, try to take some familiar toys and books and items to keep them happy in the early days until the sea freight comes. Also car seats etc.
Before leaving use the web to look up clubs and activities you could sign up for to begin immediately. Use the school for help and information. Ask and be proactive.
Definitely be on the school run. it is the best (only) way of making friends. take the 4 year old with you. She is part of the experience and can make friends too. Be friendly at school and say yes To all activities and invitations in the early days. Otoh, don't get too exclusive with a small group of people immediately until you know them a bit better as extricating oneself can be tricky. Be pro active and invite a friend round for them from the very first week. Offer the parent a coffee/wine and a chat.
Don't be too hard on yourself. It takes time and you cannot speed the process as much as you would like. Just tell yourself and accept that it will take 3 months to feel your are finding your feet and at least as long again to feel the slightest settled. You just have to sit this out.
Accept there will be a honeymoon period followed by a dip. It will pass. Give yourself time.
When you miss things at home, or worry about what your children have lost, look at the things you have/experience that you cannot at home.
The experience builds resilience, flexibility, resourcefulness and cultural sensitivity in you all - fabulous qualities to have.
He children are young and will settle fine. Accept they might want to come into bed with you a lot or display other signs of insecurity. I would go along with it all. It all passes.
Ps, mine always shared a bedroom at least at first so they didn't feel lonely.
Thanks everyone. My eldest dd is very shy so I think I just feel extra bad to be uprooting her when she is only now coming out of her shell at school. And DD2 is anything but shy so she probably will be an ice-breaker.
I think you are right to have concerns. It's all too easy to be blase and trot out the "kids are resilient" line. Not all kids are and it's not that black and white. Sometimes they just don't understand what it's all about and I think we do their sensitive little souls a huge injustice (too often make ourselves feel better about the changes we're making for the family).
Not to say your kids won't be okay. And it's great that you are giving it lots of thought. I didn't read your post as negative FWIW. (Chamonixlover, how do you know what the OP has or hasn't been through in their life?! Perhaps they have been incredibly unlucky and this is a fresh start).
Anyway, I am sure you will do all you can to help your family settle. We know our kids best. In our (limited) experience, if the school is right it makes things a heck of a lot easier.
Thanks pupsiecola. Im glad you wrote. I certainly didn't mean my post to be negative. All of us are excited about the move ( and of course sad about people/things that are being left behind). I just want to do the best job I can of anticipating and supporting my kids. I moved alot as a kid and was fine with it but my eldest is of a very different temperament and I want her to be as happy as possible. I am sure arcticspill is right about things taking time and we will all get there in the end with inevitable hiccups.
Thank you for the kind things you said, I was initially taken aback by what chamonixlover wrote. I wasn't meaning to sound negative and actually you are right a few of those unfortunate things she wrote actually do apply to me and I was kind of stunned that someone would read my message and assume that I was in ungrateful for our opportunity. Part of the reason we are moving is to be close to very poorly grandparents . But then when you write something on Mumsnet I suppose you have to be prepared for different reactions.
IME, and it is five different schools and countries for my DD, be positive about everything whether you mean it or not.
Good advice about accepting every single invitation and issuing a few of your own.
Do contact the school, you may be able to get access to the all important class list. It certainly helped my DD to know at least one face before she started school.
Make the best of it, explore your new area and, take no notice of people like chamonixlover. Her post was odd.
My two were 7 and 3 when we emigrated. The 7 year old settled far quicker because she was at school and made friends. The ice breaker at school was her accent as everyone wanted to hear her speak!
The 3 year old cried to go back for quite a long time. He couldn't understand why we couldn't pop back to our local shops or local park. Well, I think he understood but he didn't want to accept it.
I wouldn't worry too much, let it take it's natural course. I agree with the comments on finding clubs, activities, things to do before you go. You could get the children to help you make a list so they have immediate ideas of things that you can do and explore in your first few weeks. Something to look forward to and focus on.
However, I wouldn't be too ambitious in those first few months. The children need to settle into their new environment. Don't do loads of sight seeing or continually trying new things to do or places to visit. Allow plenty of time chilling at home and when you want to do things away from home go to the same place more than once for familiarity rather than moving swiftly on to another one - for example, if you find a good park go there a few times before trying another. Also get the kids to come with you for the supermarket shop so you gain familiarity together for the products on offer and how the aisles are laid out. Again, visit the same shop a few times before moving on to another.
Another thing I would suggest is getting a map of the area and everytime you go somewhere look at the map and see if you can take a different route. It's amazing what little gems you may find hidden down roads you would have otherwise ignored.
Agree with Meid on pretty much everything! My 8 year old DD is really settled quickly due to school. My 4 year old DS has found it much harder - partly because I don't have the same network and IMO pre-schoolers rely on their mum's connections for their friendships. He does go to a pre-school half time but it is slightly outside of our local community and therefore he is not as fully engaged as my DD in the school life etc. I also think at 4 it is harder for them to really "get" what has happened, whereas DD was totally prepared and can conceptualise it much more easily - we had a few episodes of significant distress from her (about missing our friends and cat) but DS is more generally "sad" which I find really distressing although I know he is largely happy with things now, 4.5 months in.
Absolutely chill at home and establish a routine - we have had lots of visitors (and a new baby arriving) which has definitely not helped but was unavoidable really. It meant we haven't been as able to get on in settling into our "new" life.