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Relocating with My Child

26 February, 2013 09:53  Erin Erin

Baby with puzzle globe. © Anetta - FotoliaWe moved from the UK to Japan when our daughter had just turned five. We left our house early one morning and embarked on the long journey to Japan, including a twelve hour flight.

The time difference meant we arrived in our Tokyo home in the morning. I’d given up trying to work out how long we’d been travelling, but the five year old had not slept a wink in that entire time. Mind you, nobody else slept on that flight either as her incessant chattering about our future new life kept everyone awake. Yes, we knew all about ways of distracting her – quiet toys, colouring, books, on-board videos etc - but every child is different and this one was not going to be distracted. At all.

Settling a child into a New Home

By the time we eventually stepped inside our new home in Tokyo my husband and I were almost comatose with exhaustion, but still the girl didn’t stop jabbering. Oh, for a child’s energy!

She ran around the house, chose her new bedroom and planned how it should look. That was fine; one way to help a child to quickly settle into a new home is to sort out their bedroom as soon as possible. This applies to children of any age and gives them a familiar haven to retire to when overwhelm strikes. In practise, overwhelm tends to strike adults rather than the children, so having a comfortable room to encourage them to spend some time is useful for a little respite!

Dealing with jet lag

To counteract the inevitable jetlag we went outside as soon as possible to explore the area. We found a local supermarket which enabled us to get some supplies.

Daughter, still on full-throttle, expressed a desire for fish-fingers and baked beans. I directed her to the wet fish counter where the incredulous look on her face is a happy memory that will stay with me forever. Fish fingers were quickly forgotten and she decided she wanted an octopus and the “pretty jewels” (red salmon eggs).

Prepare for awkward questions

However well you think you’ve prepared a child for the relocation, they will always find ways of asking something you hadn’t anticipated. My daughter just couldn’t understand the concept of the distance from England and kept asking, “Can my friends come for a sleepover tomorrow?”

Eventually we decided it was time for sleep and gratefully climbed into bed.

Jet lag kicked in at 3am and we all woke up. It took quite a few days for all of us to recover some semblance of normality. After a few days the non-sleeping daughter finally slept. And slept…

I tiptoed around the house, enjoying the blissful and rare peace.

Expect the unexpected

Then the doorbell rang at 9am. Typical! Daughter woke up and was raring to go, as ever.

It was our baggage: the shipped and non-urgent contents of our house. Our urgent, air-freight goods were held up in customs. Ah, well.

Well-labelled boxes meant I could keep daughter in her room joyfully rediscovering all her toys while I dealt with everything else.

However well you plan for your move, the unexpected is bound to happen. So plan for this too. Don’t forget to pack your sense of humour and keep it with you at all times. It’s a vital survival tool when relocating with children.

And never underestimate the energy and resilience of a five year old child!

This post was provided by Carole Hallett Mobb from Your Expat Child, a resource for expats with kids. 



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Relocating with My Child - Expat News - EasyExpat blog [Reply]

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