Life is supposed to be filled with adventures. You’re supposed to put down roots, dig them up and put them down somewhere else, and you’re supposed to enjoy every single second of those moments. As single people (or a couple with no children), it’s easy to be nomadic in life. You can drift from place to place without a care in the world. There’s no one to hold you back – and everyone supports you and envies your travels.
When you have children, that changes. You’re expected to leave the roots where you planted them so that you don’t disrupt the life you’re building for your children. The thing is, children are the most resilient little creatures you will ever meet. For children, “home” is not one single place. Home is where you are, which means that whether you are in your home town and surrounded by family, or you’re buying a new home abroad, that’s where their home will be. The biggest hurdle is explaining to the kids that you will be moving abroad – it isn’t an easy conversation to have with them, so you need to prepare yourself for it.
- Firstly, do it in the right place and pick the right time. Right before bedtime or just before school is not ideal. If you know that your ultimate goal is to be abroad, then tell the children your goals right now. There’s a whole process to get through to move overseas, and you need to make sure that they are used to the idea before you get there. The right place is where you are all most comfortable, such as at the dining table where you all eat. This way, you’re all together.
- Next, you must tell them why you’re moving. Whether it’s work or because you simply want to, it doesn’t matter. You have to make them understand why their world is about to change. It’s not always an easy conversation, so prepare yourself for emotions and exhaustion tears. You must be all on board, but equally, the resilience of a six-year-old isn’t going to change your mind!
- Ask them if they have any questions or thoughts. You may not know what’s going on in their minds – particularly if you are moving teenagers – so ask them. Please give them a little space to consider what they’d like to ask, too, and reconvene at your next family dinner.
- Talk them through how you plan to keep in touch with friends and family. Technology is impressive today, which means that they will be able to stay in touch with their friends pretty quickly!
- It would help if you were resilient when it comes to their emotional response to this big move. You are not selfish, and you are doing all of this because you are making life better for your children. You are leaving everything behind you for a new start, which is overwhelming for an adult, never mind the kids!
Telling children that their life is going to change is a hard conversation, but with the tips above, you can make this move work for you.