Everyone likes routine. For everything to be just so. But sometimes we have to do things out of our comfort zone and push ourselves to the limit. When my daughter was just 13 we moved to Canada from Europe. It certainly was a challenge but here’s how we all coped.
Moving to a new country. This is not something that is a snap decision. A lot of preparation must be thought through in order for this to go smoothly. Consider the following:
- Research your new town thoroughly
- Where will your children go to school
- Saying Goodbye
- Are there clubs for sports they currently do/ or new ones
- Stay positive
If we stay upbeat about the move then children and teens will take the lead from us. See it as an adventure. This is how we guided our children to moving to the other side of the world.
Research your new town thoroughly
You have decided to move to another state or country. With that comes lots of preparation and research. Due to the downturn in the economy, my husband and I looked into making a move.
The opportunity arose to move to Canada. This we knew would be a huge upheaval for our family, as we were living in Europe at the time. My husband had been offered new employment in Canada and so we sat down as a family and discussed the proposition.
We felt it was a good time as my daughter was just finished Grade 6 (which is the final year of Primary in our home country) and our boy was 3 years behind, so he hadn’t entered the serious grades as yet.
We were actually quite surprised at how well they took to the idea. It was an immediate ‘Yes! When are we going?’ It was a huge relief as unless we were all on-board we couldn’t consider moving.
We sat and looked online at where it was we were going to move to. A town called Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. It seemed like a lovely town. The internet is amazing for things like this as we were able to do the Google walkaround. We could really get a feel for the place. We looked at where my husband would be working and also the possibilities of where we might live. The ability to see the whole town on Google Maps made our decision easier.
The next major selection was where they would go to school. In our home country, you can pretty much send your child to school wherever you please but in Moose Jaw we had to go within the catchment area. So until we knew where we would be living we had to put this on hold.
It was decided that my husband would travel first and our children would finish out the school year. We had organised with his new employer that initially he would live with a colleague.
I got busy on the internet again looking at local realtors and town information sites and within a short space of time we had found a lovely house in the middle of town.
While my husband was busy adjusting to life in Canada, we were so busy at home getting ready to join him. In hindsight this was a good thing as both children were so immersed in getting ready to leave. Each was given the task of clearing their own bedroom. It gave them responsibility. What would they bring with them, what would we put in storage? It was an exciting time for everyone.
They became very interesting to their classmates in school. They suddenly were quite exotic! The kids that were emigrating.
We had to be mindful that this was going to be a massive change for everyone and with my husband already gone to Canada keeping everyone calm fell to me. But we were so busy packing up our house the time just flew by.
Where will your children go to school?
Once we had selected a home we could then go about choosing a school. I contacted the Principal directly by email and they were so helpful. He outlined what we would need to enrol them and who to speak to on arrival. Even down to the number of the lady who drove the school bus!
It was going to be a very big change, as they currently were attending a school of about 80 pupils and would be starting the new school year in a 1000+ pupil school. New subjects and a different was of learning were challenges that my husband and I would have to be fully behind and onboard with.
We again used the internet as a resource to look at the school website. What teachers looked like. What the school interior was like. It paved the way for everything to be a little more familiar. And so when the time arrived at the end of the summer, going through the new school doors wouldn’t seem so daunting.
In relation to school, my post how do I get my 14 years old to go to school? may be a good read.
The day of departure was quite stressful, there’s no denying it. Saying goodbye to everyone was the most difficult part. I was saying goodbye to my parents and sister but I had to be mindful that my kids were also saying goodbye to their grandparents. And they were looking to me for their lead. I had to be upbeat for them.
This was a fantastic opportunity and adventure ahead of us and we were on the way to being united with their dad, whom they hadn’t seen for 3 months.
The fantastic resource of Skype meant that we would still be able to see our parents and their grandparents on a regular basis.
We had the whole summer ahead of us. It was fantastic to enjoy the Canadian sunshine and have the time to explore our new city and surroundings. It was initially a bit like being on vacation and probably until school started it hadn’t really sunk in that we had moved across the world.
Sports / Clubs
Certainly the opportunity to be involved in sports and clubs is always a great way of making friends and fitting in. Arriving in Canada we had lots of new sports to try out that we had never been exposed to before. Both our children were really excited to get involved in baseball and fastball, with training and games taking place 3-4 times per week.
Between them we had to divide our time as we both couldn’t go to both. They also had the chance to try out Ice Skating, Ice Hockey and Curling when the winter arrived. It was great for them to be able to mix with kids their own age.
Like at home, they were new and interesting because we were in a relatively small town with not much exposure to Europeans. The town where we had chosen to live was quite sports orientated. Ice hockey was huge and it was amazing to get to regularly go to games as a family for small amounts of money.
You may be interested in my post, how much does a teenager cost per month?
In school, both kids settled really well. This was my biggest fear. My daughter is a real bookworm and I was worried that she wasn’t going to like her new school.
But thankfully she loved it. She made a best friend within a couple of weeks and relaxed into not only Canadian life but also town life. I certainly think it made a difference that we were living in the town. Everyone was in walking distance of our home, and we were in walking distance of the mall, the movies and all the sports grounds.
How late should I let my teenager stay out? is another one of my posts covering teen issues.
Have a day for their friends before you leave
Before we left for Canada I felt it was important that each child had a day with their friends. We weren’t sure how long we were going for, a year or two or forever. They had spent six to eight years with this group of friends in school and they possibly may never see them again. So I felt it was important that we mark the occasion so they had a strong memory of their early childhood friends.
Towards the end of the school year, they each choose a group of friends and we organized an activity day for them. It was a good experience for both my children, to have to say goodbye to people, but also for their group of friends to understand that people move away and life changes.
Not always the easiest thing to do but it is important that you try to stay positive. If you are doing a major move away from everything your children have ever known it’s going to be a very daunting situation for them. No matter how excited they seem they will be feeling some amount of anxiety. So as their parent they will look to you for guidance, for you to lead the way. If you are stressed off the radar they will feed from that. They will think there is something they are not being told. For this reason, it’s a good idea to be as open as possible with your children/teens.
Have a plan, both long term and short term. Sit and discuss this with them. How the move is going to go, travelling to the airport, where you are going to live, schools, new teachers.
The more information they have the more secure they will feel. Teens are more resilient than we give them credit for. They like to feel like we trust them. By sharing plans they know they are part of what’s going on.
Moving house, be it to another state or like us across the world is the biggest adventure they may have ever experienced so embrace that and try and make it the most exciting time of their lives. They will remember it forever.