Preparing Your Kids To Become Location Independent
So you’ve decided to become a location independent parent. That means your children have to become location independent too – and for some children that could be a big problem.
For many younger children, routine and familiarity are everything, while for older ones, it’s attachment to their peers that may prove a sticking point. It’s a real worry for parents, who may worry that their children may not settle into the nomadic lifestyle and won’t be happy when you move abroad.
The lesson I learned when moving from the UK to the Caribbean is that preparation is everything. Here are some strategies you can try…
Check Out Your Location Independent Destination
Many people spend a long time planning for their next move. If this is you, and you’re planning a semi-permanent relocation to somewhere that you visit regularly, schedule a family trip to that destination to ’sell’ it to your kids.
Plan some fun activities that they will remember when you return to your current home, so they will have something to look forward to when you move. If you’ve got friends with children, plan some get-togethers so that when your children arrive in the new location, they already know someone there. That will ease the transition for them.
Do you already know where you’re going to live? Then show it to your kids. If a visit to the location is feasible, then do that, otherwise use Google Earth and other web resources to give your kids as much information as you can about the country they are moving to.
Use the Internet to find photos of the place you will be visiting, research fun activities in the area and generally get informed about your destination. With older children get them to help. They can create a wish list of things to do when they arrive and prepare a scrapbook to tell their current friends about where they will be going.
In our case, we were relocating permanently (more or less, anyway) and we were able to show our daughter the house and her room. We took photos back to the UK with us so she could show them to her friends. We started this process about nine months before the move.
How are you going to educate your children?
You may already be homeschooling, in which case you will be doing the same thing in a different location. If not, let older children help you research schools and visit them all when you arrive (preferably before the start of the school term or semester).
Hook up with a couple of expat groups who may have children in the same schools. This will give your kids a small circle of friends to start with.
Focus On Fun
If your children have any favourite activities then find out where they can do these in the place that you are going. It will help them to feel that they are not leaving their entire way of life behind.
Also, explain to your kids why you are going and what benefits you think it will bring. Kids have a sense of adventure – so appeal to it!
Preparing To Move
Get your children involved in the preparation process. Even children as young as three can make decisions about which toys to take and which to leave in storage. We gave our daughter a suitcase of her own so that she could decide what would go with us and what would come later.
Be sure to explain that toys which are being boxed are not being thrown away but saved. Our daughter was also happy to help wrap items for packing (even if we had to add some extra tape later!).
Keeping In Touch
The great thing is that these days, moving halfway around the world doesn’t have to mean losing touch with your friends. Photos of the people and places they love really help, so get that camera out!
If you have email, a laptop with a webcam and Skype, your kids can talk to friends and family back home, which will make the transition easier. When my daughter first used a webcam, she was very excited. And now, she regularly Skypes with a friend in Gibraltar while they play an online game together.
Talk, Talk, Talk
For us, the key aspect of the whole thing was communication. Our daughter had lots of friends whom she’d known since birth and was a bit upset about leaving them. All our friends talked to the children about the fact that we were leaving, but would still be in touch.
We spent lots of time together, took lots of photos and exchanged Skype IDs. Since we’ve left, several of my daughter’s friends have come to visit and we’ve been back to the UK once. And although she missed her friends at first, and still talks about the UK, she’s settled well into her new life.
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- Mindful Parenting: A Useful Approach For Location Independent Parents | Location Independent Parents
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