Transitions as a Global Family: 9 tips for a smooth move
Many global adventurers want to go abroad again…and again…and again! At some point that might mean moving abroad with a partner and/or kids. In this guest post, Kylie Bevan shares her tips for a smooth move abroad as a family.
Are your children toddlers? School age? Older and staying elsewhere?
Are you a single parent? Are you the primary carer? Are you leaving lots of extra support behind?
Every family who moves abroad, or returns, has different challenges, dreams and fears.
All wish it to go as smoothly as possible, for everyone involved.
I’ve moved 15 times, across Australia, UK, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu. I’ve done so as a child with my parents, a solo teenager, a solo adult, an adult with a partner, a wife, and for the last 10 years, as a married mum with two girls.
Yes, it’s tough. Yes, you learn more about yourself and others with every move. Yes, it’s a roller coaster of emotions. And yes, it’s most definitely worth it.
These 9 techniques will help ensure your next move is a healthy and happy one.
- Have open discussions about the what, why, when and how, well before the move.
You’ll have much greater buy-in when everybody feels involved. Of course decisions may not suit everyone, and sometimes one person has to have final say, however getting everybody’s input, and knowing how each feels, is gold. Depending on the age of your children, the involvement will be minor for kindergarten-age children, greater for primary-age children, and comprehensive for teenagers and above.
- Research a little, or a lot, about the next location.
Is there a new language to learn, or customs to understand? Having an idea of what to expect helps dampen unnerving feelings of uncertainty. Infusing an element of fun and adventure into the new location makes for a much smoother transition. ‘Imagine the new friends we haven’t met yet!’
- Work out how you’ll communicate with those left behind, such as friends and family.
Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom or Facetime are excellent for video or audio chat. Social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, are a great way to feel in touch with lots of people at once – plus act as a highlight reel of your move. Mobile/cell phones allow for international texts as a cheaper alternative to calls.
- Decide if, and how often, you’ll return to the current location.
Having a set month to look forward to connecting again in person will make it easier to say ‘until we see you again’.
- Older children are more likely to feel greater impact from a move, as it takes longer to build solid friendships at higher ages.
Just because they are capable of packing their own lunch and perhaps make their own way to school does not necessarily mean they have the skills and confidence to settle into a new social environment easily. Wherever possible encourage them to talk to somebody, if not yourself, about how they are feeling about the move – before, during and after. Some might enjoy journaling, others another creative or physical outlet for their emotions. Encouraging positive support by listening, empathising and exploring possible solutions to problems is key.
- Make sure you consider yourself too.
As a relocation health coach I meet many adults who create a smooth move environment for their partner and children, while forgetting what they personally need. I’ve done this myself, during our most recent move from Tonga to Vanuatu. What do you already know you need for a smooth day – is it 10 minutes to meditate in the morning, or a quiet cup of tea before morning-bedlam, or a half-hour walk in the evening? Write a list of non-negotiables and make them happen.
- Be open to meeting people as soon as you arrive.
Chat to people in shops, cafes and at school. Scout out sporting and social groups family members might like to join. Investigate community and business meetups. Check out social media pages for location-specific events and happenings. Let people know you are new to the area, and keen for help to settle in. And if this idea is totally daunting, as it is for most, remember you are just asking questions – most of the conversation will come from the recipient of your requests. And most people honestly like to help.
- Give yourselves time to settle in.
There will no doubt be good days and tough days, for all of you. Celebrate the good, and be gentle with each other and yourself on the tough. You are doing a great job.
- See this move as an opportunity to become an even better version of you – as Cate says, to ‘relaunch’.
Let the poor habits slide, and in their place, embrace healthier, more fulfilling ones. Take the opportunity to follow your purpose, or study something new. Incorporate exercise into your daily life. Find a source of fresh, local food. Surround yourself with people who lift you up. Get to know yourself better. The world is your oyster!
What helped your global family move in a healthy and happy way? We’d love to hear, comment below.
As a certified Health Coach; author of Your Relocation Solution: be healthy and happy wherever you are; founder of Health & Wellness Revolution; with a background in travel and finance; Kylie is deeply passionate about helping people embrace life with energy and enthusiasm.
Learn about ways to live your healthiest, happiest life at healthwellnessrevolution.com. Stay in the know with tips, insights, events, courses and special offers by subscribing to Kylie’s free newsletter – and receive a free gift for doing so! Connect on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or LinkedIn.
photo credit: Sydney Treasures Photography via photopin (license)