Any parent knows how difficult it can be to get the children into the car for the shortest of journeys. It can take a lot of effort and a great deal of stress to move a family anywhere, let alone across the country or overseas. And while stress is a normal part of adjusting to life in a new place for adults, it also affects the children- many of whom would rather stay where they are. But there are ways you can help them settle in happily. And they don’t involve buying the latest i-toy.
Moving to Perth
When I relocated to Perth from Tasmania with my husband and young family a few years ago, the effects on my children were traumatic for all of us. As my husband moved a couple of weeks earlier to begin his new job while I tied up loose ends, I found myself at the airport with two inconsolable children who couldn’t understand why they had to leave their grandparents and all their friends. The guilt was terrible. I tried to stay upbeat and find the right words- not knowing whether to reassure with promises of frequent phone calls, focus on the exciting adventures ahead or resort to distraction.
It is normal to feel a certain amount of anxiety when we leave everything we know. Professional counsellor, Judi Richardson says that when families move to a new environment, parental involvement is vital.
‘Parents play an important role in helping their children adjust to their surroundings,’ she says. ‘I encourage parents to explore their new surroundings with their children so that they can discover it together. This helps children see that they are valued members of the family and even though they might not have been part of the decision to relocate, how they feel matters.’
Admittedly, it is hard to spend time playing when there is so much to organise. But quality family time is always time well spent- particularly if it means a more settled child. If you can, try to spend some one-on-one time with each child, even if just for a few minutes.
It’s also a good idea to try to empathise with your child and see how the world looks from his or her point of view. There are a range of emotions that can be overwhelming, like feeling resentment at being forced to move to a new place, anger at a perceived lack of control or fear over whether they will fit in at school. Understanding your child will make it easier for you to help.
‘Another way parents can help their children adjust to life in a new place,’ Ms Richardson says, ‘is by helping them to focus their attention in the present. When we are busy experiencing the here and now, we are not usually sad.’
The buzz word is ‘mindfulness’- consciously being aware and mindful of what is engaging us in the moment. Parents don’t need to provide stimulating or time-consuming activities to achieve this- sometimes the routine chores like hanging out the washing or helping to prepare a meal can help re-establish some normality.
‘It’s important not to hold children back in the past by dwelling on the home they have just left,’ Ms Richardson says. ‘We can keep in contact with family and friends back home but constantly focusing on them will not be helpful in the long run.’
As parents, our own willingness to take steps to feel at home in Perth as quickly as we can will help children follow our lead.
More Helpful Activities
In my situation, we managed to focus on getting through each day without too much sadness creeping in. Some useful activities included giving my daughter a stack of tourism brochures and asking her to plan a list of things she recommended we see and do in Perth. Another task involved her writing a list of the most important things we needed to organise, from buying a car to finding a school. Our younger son was happy to explore new playgrounds and have fun at the beach – a rare novelty in Tasmania. We tried to unpack the children’s rooms as a priority and made sure their precious things were close at hand.
Getting Help In Perth, WA
It may pay to seek out a professional counsellor who can help your child cope with the negative effects of change. One program in Western Australia called Rainbows can help children who are struggling to deal with a significant change and/or loss in their life, such as moving to a new place. The effects of these struggles can be displayed in behavioural or social problems, academic issues or physical ailments.
Rainbows is a peer support program, which consists of small groups of children of similar age meeting weekly with a trained facilitator during school hours. The programs offer coping tools to build confidence and self-esteem and can help children to deal with their feelings.
Moving to Perth, whether from interstate or abroad, is a significant life event that has a profound effect on the whole family. Most children thrive on routine and predictability and will deal with the upheaval in their own ways, but ultimately it is a challenge parents can help them overcome.
Relocation Services In Perth
If you would like to be able to spend more quality time with your children and want to minimise the stress of relocating, you might like to see how a professional relocation expert can help. Chances are they can get things done a lot faster and more efficiently, leaving you time for more important things.
Find out more about relocating to Perth your family. Call Us Now 1300 912 112 or email our Relocations Team.