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Pre-visits with children

(25 Posts)
Consideringchina Tue 09-May-17 22:39:39

We are just starting to think about our first international move since the children have been old enough to know about it. They are mostly very sad about leaving their friends right now, and it doesn't yet feel like an adventure for them. We have the chance of a pre-visit: I am minded to take it, have a look round schools, etc, and make damn sure they have an amazing time. DH thinks that because it will be short, they won't get the chance to feel settled in any way and what with jet lag and what have you, it might be better just to bite the bullet and move cold. Any thoughts?

Foldedtshirt Tue 09-May-17 22:41:40

Where are you going?

Consideringchina Tue 09-May-17 22:43:54


Foldedtshirt Wed 10-May-17 07:37:48

I think because of the distance and culture shock you'd probably be better off going straight here. Can you visit without them? I moved to China with dcs and it was the first visit for all of us!
Any chance of a driver, at least for the first week? Being able to jump into an air conditioned familiar place with a friendly face is a great help, at least initially.

Dawnedlightly Wed 10-May-17 07:38:56

blush 😂
I've just seen you user name.

bigbadbarry Wed 10-May-17 08:09:53

Lol there is a clue in the name ;)
Thanks, folded. I have no childcare so if I visit, we all visit. I don't mind just jumping straight in, if that is best - I just want the move to be as simple as possible for them. They are already sad about leaving friends, etc. How did your DC adjust?

bigbadbarry Wed 10-May-17 08:10:12

Oh, bollocks. Name change fail.

Dawnedlightly Wed 10-May-17 08:19:52

Me too! 😂

Dawnedlightly Wed 10-May-17 08:27:01

Mine went from idyllic home from home- big house in Australia next to the beach- to air conditioned flat in Shanghai and it was great! It was their second move as we'd left U.K. several years before for Oz.
Things that worked really well were organising all the uniform for school beforehand (no mean feat!) and being very accommodating about food. So we saved our adventurousness for adult time out and indulge the dcs with McD and plastic plated kids restaurants. If you're being relocated with work I'd really lobby for a driver, or even investigate arranging one yourselves at the beginning- it was such a help and meant we did a lot more, we could afford to be adventurous; knowing we could always retreat.
Where are you going?

Consideringchina Wed 10-May-17 09:22:46

Good tips, thank you. Yes, Shanghai; yes, with work; I believe drivers are almost mandatory with our company.
Not sure there will be any adult time out though - I've got a gang of handy teenage babysitters here (no family close by so that won't change) but I suspect it will be just me, there. At least to start with.

Cornishware Wed 10-May-17 10:04:44

I took mine to Latin America from uk for the pre trip, they were four. So they could picture it and so I knew they could cope. We survived but put it this way it looks as though we may be moving again and I have already told them they are not coming on the pre trip, I will take lots of photos and whatsapp. They are okay with this as they are 8 now and understand about jet lag!

Dawnedlightly Wed 10-May-17 17:17:36

If you're on a compound it'll be easy to find a babysitter!

consideringchina Wed 10-May-17 17:20:18

Will it, dawned? See I have no idea what we are going to. 'Compound' suggests walls and barbed wire and entry phones - is that how people live? Or is it more like an estate where all the expats can be contained?!
We just lived in a house in with locals in Tokyo and I definitely get the impression that China is different. I have no idea!

Indaba Wed 10-May-17 17:22:36

I'm with your husband. Lots of opportunity for it to go wrong for the kids. What if they do not like it on your trip: would you really cancel the transfer and not go?

consideringchina Wed 10-May-17 17:25:50

Thanks for your thoughts, Indaba - I've come round to that way of thinking today. And just received a text from him saying he's been thinking about it and now thinks we should go for a week in June, quote, "Let them see the school, meet people and have some fun". LOL. Argh!

Dawnedlightly Wed 10-May-17 18:15:50

Rule 1 in being a trailing spouse. Plan, but be prepared to ditch the plans!

LillianGish Thu 11-May-17 08:48:44

I'd definitely take them - especially if it means they can see the school - I've moved ours around a bit (nowhere as exotic as China) and I think it has helped them to feel involved. All our moves have been a big family adventure - we're all in it together enjoying the good things and moaning about the bad things (which usually end up becoming a family joke).

Cantseethewoods Fri 12-May-17 05:49:23

Tricky one. Shanghai isnt somewhere that has instant appeal, especially for children, although it's fine once you're there. I'd be tempted to go in cold myself, but would depend on ages and dispositions. Just thinking if you get there on a bad pollution week, it can seem quite hazy and grey.

For babysitting/ childcare, at least consider an ayi in addition to the driver.

ShanghaiDiva Fri 12-May-17 07:30:20

Most people in the city live on a gated compound - expats and Chinese - generally not any barbed wire though! Some are massive with many tower blocks of flats, some are a lot smaller with houses and flats. There will be guards eg the gatehouse will phone me if I have a visitor to confirm they I am aware someone is coming to my house and the post is delivered to the compound office and the guards bring it to your house.
I didn't bring my children on the pre-trip visit as dd had just turned 2 and the week was packed with school visits, accommodation visits, trip to doctor to discuss vaccinations. We have lived in three different countries (expats for 22 years) and have always visited the country before we committed to the move.

MangosteenSoda Sun 14-May-17 01:58:59

Hi again Considering!

We are visiting Shanghai for a couple of days this week before husband decides whether or not to accept the position. I'm not taking my just turned 2y/o (only DC) because it would be super difficult getting everything done when having to accommodate his nap and his fussy eating as well as finding a nice space for him to burn a bit of energy off in.

We are currently in Hong Kong though, so it's viable for us to do a quick 2 night trip. Something I wouldn't want to do from the UK!

Like a pp said, I don't think Shanghai makes a great first impression. If you do decide to make a pre visit, I'd figure out all of the most fun stuff to do for kids and just try to give them a really exciting holiday.

Any ideas where you want to be based?

consideringchina Sun 14-May-17 09:29:00

Thanks, Mangosteen. I think given that we are going regardless - and want to move in July to fit around school years - and as you say, the 13-hour flight plus jet lag issues from the UK - then a visit would be silly. Also, it is not very long to plan the move and taking a week out of that will not help! DH still thinks it would be a good idea (take the kids to Disneyland, he says.)
We have some friends leaving Shanghai this summer so we are toying with just taking over their house. Might make things simple. Early days though really, regarding location. I don't even know where their house is!
Please let me know how your visit goes - pm me if you don't want to put it on here? Not such a change from you, from HK, I guess. I lived in Tokyo 15 years ago so the massive city doesn't especially faze me, but I am finding the idea of China quite intimidating.

ifink Sun 14-May-17 20:54:15

You can take them, we had to take ours aged 6 and 8 to Jakarta on the pre-visit as we had no one to leave them with in Australia for 4 was fine, we spent a lot of time in the car, they were frustrated but got the iPad a lot. I think it did help them to see where they were moving to, we did some fun stuff like soft play, swimming and treated them to a buffet brunch, they were excited to move there (I wasn't)

Zimmerzammerbangbang Mon 15-May-17 11:01:15

If the decision's made I wouldn't take them - it's too far and you won't have long enough on the ground.

I did exactly the previsit you described for our last move (and spent a weekend basically doing everything the kids could want to do, the sort of thing that is a special treat now!) and it really helped the kids accept the change BUT that was only an hour's flight.

The best tip I got on here was just to keep talking about the move as something that's going to happen. Even if they're upset about it. Eventually it'll become the new normal for them. My kids were distraught at the idea of leaving their friends next door (even though those same friends were relocating themselves) but with time they accepted that was what was happening. A year on and they are very happy.

consideringchina Tue 16-May-17 15:33:58

Right. We are not doing a pre-visit. The kids are all in the 'exciting big adventure' frame of mind so I don't think we need to go and hype it further.
Thanks for all the advice smile

Laptopwieldingharpy Tue 16-May-17 16:07:20

Goid décision! If they are game and you are going anyway, what's the point?
Make sure you actually tour the schools and don't just follow the hype or "reputation" of a good school. You need to find the actual good fit for your kids so you should go see for yourself

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