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My children are homesick - any tips?(7 Posts)
It's early days, I know. We only moved here (Spain) from UK two months ago. DCs are 5 and 7 and attend a British School.
They are in an English-speaking environment, which I hope has mitigated things somewhat, ie they haven't been plunged into an environment where they don't understand the language, although in the medium term they probably won't learn Spanish very quickly as they are not immersed.
They miss their friends, our house, street, cats, neighbours, the familiarity and ease of it all. I do too! But how can I best help them adapt to life here? We will probably be here 2-3 years, and will return to the previous house and school afterwards.
They have told me they hate not knowing many people and not knowing their way around, and also at the playground they can't understand the other children.
My eldest is behaving really nastily at the moment - being really mean to the younger one, and cheeky to me. I know it's because of the situation, she is lashing out at me and her brother because she is unsettled. I'm trying to be as supportive and empathetic as possible, not punishing the behaviour all that much because she is usually such a good girl.
Any tips most welcome! How long can it take to settle in?
I can't decide if it's a good idea or a bad one to visit England at xmas for a few days. WWYD?
Could you get a cat while you are there? Or some other small animal they could relate to? Might make it feel more like home.
I would arrange regular visits back to UK - even if they don't understand how long it is until the next visit, they will have something to look forward to.
Maybe try setting up some weekly treats for them that are specific to Spain - eg every Friday we go to the churros shop and have churros and chocolate (or something like that). Or let them go to a 'grown up' cafe with you in the evening - the type of thing that they can't do in Britain, so that they see some advantages to where they are. I would definitely organise some playdates too.
If you are in a city get them to pick out a place to visit on the weekend and plan the trip by public transport - being on the bus will be fun and you can get them to look out for certain things - eg how many bread shops on the way - anything to make them look at their new environment with enthusiasm.
Children hate change, and it's best to get them into a very predictable routine and make daily/weekly plans with them. Try to have lots of play dates. Join a "desirable" club.
Not speaking Spanish is a bit of a problem, because you will be living in an English bubble. Try to expand the bubble as quickly as possible, so that your children can play with the neighbours' kids etc.
I'm not sure that I have any specific advice to add to what others have said, but I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. I have 4 kids - my elder 2 are the same age as your kids - and they started at a local French school in September.
I do think language is the key and that will take time. My kids do not speak French but in 6 months time I hope they will have 'some' language although I am not anticipating fluency for some time. I think with language acquisition will come more confidence and a sense of being part of it all. It's certainly how I have felt when I've had to learn a language before, but as an adult.
My eldest has gone from being very confident and able at school to not being able to communicate. She can't read, write, speak or understand French. Your daughter no doubt feels the same, although perhaps not in class, but certainly in the playground.
It's a big adjustment. Lots of treats will help. We haven't been back to the UK, but we are going to go back at Christmas.
I remember feeling like that as we moved a lot as a child. I second treats especially things which may be better than home. Water parks, theme parks all that kind of thing.
Also go exploring. My mum used to put us in the car for an explore and we'd drive round, get lost, find new places. It helped us know our new environments and modelled good ways of coping with being somewhere strange.
Make the most of the expat bubble too. Everyone has been new at some point so join clubs and find people to buddy your DC.
Cannot comment on your exact situation as we live in france and 4yo DS was born here. However DP is also british so we live in a bit of an english bubble at home (sky tv, cebeebies etc.)
I would def go home for a few days at Xmas - will help them "decompress" a bit. However don't let them wish away the next few years until they go back to the uk. make the most of what you can do in spain. are weekends at the coast / islands doable when the weather improves?
Also can you get them some spanish tuition and organise some play dates, so it is more one on one rather than they have to randomly find other children to play with?