When you’re relocating overseas with children, it adds some extra challenges to the adventure. This post about tips for moving abroad with children comes from my own personal experience of moving overseas to raise our kids in Australia.
Thank you to A Team Tuition for sponsoring this post about moving abroad with children
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How to move overseas with children: Dealing with big feelings
When we were moving abroad permanently to Australia with our three little ones (who were 2, 4 and 4 at the time), I remember feeling so emotional about it.
I had a lot of guilt around taking our kids away from their grandparents and family. I was worried about everything from finding a job in Australia to being able to afford to buy a home. I worried about how hot it was going to be and the extreme weather. I stressed about living so far from ‘home’ in case of a family emergency. I worried about how easily our kids would settle in Australia, whether they’d make new friends easily and whether this was the best future for them.
Moving to a different country with kids adds a whole new dimension to the experience of moving overseas. There are extra practical things to consider like finding schools, daycare and flexible work opportunities plus you need to do all of your arrival administration while juggling small people (which isn’t fun for them or you!). Not to mention the fact your kids are going to have their own concerns about the challenges ahead of them.
I’m sure I’d have worried about moving abroad from the UK even if we didn’t have children to consider, but knowing we were making this huge life decision for our family meant it put extra pressure on our shoulders.
Sometimes our kids are totally unaware of the stress we’re putting on ourselves to make everything perfect for them and they see starting a new life abroad as an exciting adventure! Other times, they might also be worried about what lies ahead and be really upset about leaving friends, family and school behind.
Let me share some of the things that helped us when moving abroad with kids.
Relocating with kids? Read this post about choosing the best place to live for your family!
Tips to support your expat kids and help them settle in Australia
Regardless of which country you’re moving from, there is a certain culture shock that comes when you move overseas. Australia may look similar to the US or UK, but there are so many differences and it takes time for you to settle down and build a new life here.
When it comes to helping children cope with moving, here are 8 things you can do to help your expat kids settle in Australia.
Stay in touch with family and friends when moving abroad with children
Staying in touch with your close friends and family is so important for your kids and for you. Especially for your older kids who are struggling with the idea of saying goodbye to everyone.
There are lots of apps you can use to stay in touch more easily from video calling and messaging to sending postcards and pictures.
It’s easy to lose touch with people when you’ve moved to the opposite side of the world and you’re on a different time zone. Some people will naturally disappear from your lives and that’s just part of transitioning to a new stage of your life, but try not to let it happen with your most important relationships.
Get organised and put plans in place for how you’re going to stay connected. It will also help your kids feel more secure if they know how they’re going to be able to stay in touch with the people they love.
Allow your child to help choose their school
I think it’s worth researching schools in the area before you move, but I’m a firm believer that you need to visit a school in person before you make a definite decision. I found from my personal experience viewing schools for primary and high school that the ones I expected to be a perfect fit never were and the ones I didn’t expect to be the right option were actually the ones we loved!
Your children will be attending that school every day for years. I think it’s important to consider their views in the decisions as it gives them some ownership over the decision.
My husband and I chose our kids’ prep to year 12 school soon after arriving as our kids were too young to understand at the time. When my twins were approaching high school last year, we decided to explore the options again just to make sure they were still in the right school for their interests.
The kids love their current school and wanted to stay there but they agreed to look around so they could make an informed decision about their future.
It was fun viewing the other high school open days. I was surprised that the schools we expected to love didn’t have the right vibe for us. There were other schools my husband and I really loved that we hadn’t expected to like. In the end, our current school stood out above the rest so it was an easy decision for us all to make to stay where we were but I’m glad we took the time to explore the options together.
What I’m saying is that you will know the right school for your expat child when you experience it – on a website you can’t tell what it’s going to be like. If your kids are old enough, bring them in to the decision as they’re the ones who will be attending day after day.
Consider tutoring for kids (either a one-to-one tutor or some additional online learning for kids) to support your expat kids
I think it’s important to do what you can to help your child feel confident in their new school in Australia.
They’ll have a new school and new friends to navigate, not to mention a new curriculum – they might even be starting school in Australia in a different school year. It’s a lot for a child to process, not to mention the fact they might have missed some important schooling during the move to Australia and the relocation process.
It can be helpful to try tutoring online for kids or one-to-one tutoring in person as a way of building their confidence at school. Tutoring for children can also help you understand if there are any gaps in their learning (given you’re moving from another country where the curriculum is different). It’s all about supporting your expat kids so they can thrive in their new school environment.
I think it’s so useful to consider giving your kids some extra learning support when you arrive through tutoring not because they’re struggling, but so they can avoid struggling in the first place. It gives them confidence in their abilities in their new school right from the beginning.
When you’re considering researching tutoring for children, the important thing is to find a tutoring company that will support your child’s unique learning style. My three kids all learn very differently. While one is very suited to the traditional learning systems of reading and writing, the other two are kinaesthetic learners who learn through tactile, hands-on, creative experiences.
Going down the route of tutoring for kids is not about a cookie cutter approach to learning, it’s about finding the right tutor that will help them reach their full potential, so consider that when choosing the best tutor for your kids.
Make new friends when moving with kids
If you’re moving with a young child, you can do a lot to help them make friends in Australia.
Visit the park and chat to other families. Go to the library and see what clubs and meet ups they offer. Ask your friends if they know anyone who has moved to the area who you can meet up with. Make the effort to chat to other families at kindy or school drop off. Arrange play dates with anyone you get chatting to. Go along to clubs and activities. Put a call out to meet people in migration Facebook groups like my Move to Australia group. Encourage your older kids to join youth groups.
Making new friends can be exhausting but it’s so worth it as once you’ve got a friendship network life becomes so much more fun!
Making friends will help your expat kids settle into their new life much faster. We all need someone we trust to talk to and confide in, and it can really make the adventure of relocating with a child easier when you’ve got people to turn to for support and a friendly ear. Friends can make you feel a lot less homesick too.
Get your expat kids to try out a new hobby
Living in a country with so much sunshine means there are so many new hobbies to try out.
Moving abroad with children gives all of you a chance to try something new, whether that’s a new sport or a new hobby. It’s not only a great way to meet some new people (see the point above!) but it’s also an opportunity to try something new and expand your comfort zone.
You might like to encourage your kids to try surfing or body boarding. Or how about AFL or parkour? It could be an opportunity for your older kids to try scuba diving or take up fishing! There are so many different opportunities in Australia.
I love that my sons are now obsessed with fishing – I don’t think this is a hobby they’d have ever considered where we lived in the UK. They’re also really into aviation because they’ve been studying it at high school – so far this is an interest in flying foam planes, using flight simulators and flying drones. I have no idea where this might lead, but again it’s not something they’d have been exposed to if we’d stayed in the UK. They’re thriving thanks to being able to try out and experiment with new hobbies to see what interests them.
Be understanding when moving abroad with children
Moving overseas is emotionally challenging for everyone involved. It’s a lot to process for your kids, no matter what their age. They’ve said goodbye to everything they know. They might be missing people and places and familiarity. They might have jet lag. They might just be missing the routine of school/daycare while you’re in that transition phase of dealing with all of the arrival admin which feels like it just goes on and on.
We definitely had to lower our expectations when we arrived and also cut each other some slack. We were all running on a short fuse, our sleep was all over the place and there was so much to do. Plus we were stressed still about finding jobs, a home, a school and daycare!
You naturally find everyone takes out their stress on one another, so try your best to be patient and kind.
After a few weeks things calm down but your child is going to need you to be understanding for as long as it takes for them to find a foothold in this new life in Australia.
Kids will settle in in their own time. My 2yo was too young to have any concept about what was happening, so for her Australia is all she has really known. For our 4yo twins, they weren’t sure that they wanted to leave their grandparents behind but on day two as they splashed in the ocean they declared that this was their favourite home and they loved it here.
Older kids are likely to need more time to figure things out – it could take days, weeks, months, or even a year or two for them to really adapt. Just be there for them and support them as much as you can.
Reinforce why you moved by exploring Australia together
Moving to Australia with children was a challenge, both emotionally and financially, so it was really important for us to regularly remind ourselves why we were doing it. This involved getting out and about to explore Australia together.
As we became more established, we took short breaks and planned holidays in Australia. All of this just cements why you’re living in the best place in the world for families (in my opinion!). And it gives you some incredible photos to share with the people you love back in your country of origin.
Start some new traditions when moving abroad with children
When you move overseas, everything changes and that’s OK. It’s the perfect time to begin some new traditions!
I love our new Australia Christmas traditions – celebrating the festive season in the sunshine is such a strange concept for us, so rather than trying to make it feel like Christmas in the UK, we love to embrace that Christmas in Australia is a different experience (and we love celebrating Christmas in July too!)
Christmas in Australia means strolling around night markets in the warm summer evenings. It’s about walking around the streets to look at Christmas lights and then going for a night swim in our pool when we get home. It’s about spending Christmas Day wearing swimwear and eating a BBQ.
It’s not just Christmas time when you can create some new traditions though. Maybe you want to spend every Saturday morning fishing or playing golf? Or you want to go camping every school holidays. Or you want to cook a BBQ every Friday after work?
Let your mind go wild and come up with some incredible new traditions to embrace your new life Down Under.
Things to consider when moving to another country with your family
Moving abroad with children has been such a rewarding experience. To see our children in Australia adapting to their new life, making new friends and making Australia their home has been so inspiring.
I’m proud of how our kids have embraced the adventure of relocating internationally. They’re now confident they can do whatever they want in life – the sky is the limit.
I can’t wait to see where this energy and belief takes them!
This post about moving abroad with children was sponsored by A Team Tuition.
A Team Tuition believes that tutoring can change a student’s life by building confidence and breaking down barriers to learning. A Team Tuition strives to help students reach their unique potential by reshaping traditional learning systems to suit your child’s learning style.
Helping your child thrive at school life isn’t just about achieving good grades in the short term; it’s about helping them develop the tools and skills that equip them for the rest of their life. This is a tutoring system founded on a transformational journey, and it’s part of the support system you can put in place to ensure your expat children flourish in their new home.
You can find out more about A Team Tuition and their online tutoring across Australia here.