Sunday, April 20, 2014

Moving abroad with young kids

Have an infant or toddler (or both!) and thinking of taking your family abroad to live? Already taken a job abroad and are thinking about what you need to plan for your little ones? Though our kids were born while we were already abroad, we have some thoughts on this based on our experiences and those of others we know.
1. Seek out other families already settled in your new country well before you leave - what advice do they have?

If you are going overseas because of a job that regularly places people overseas they should be able to help with your transition. But if you are on your own find blogs/message boards/etc with families already living in the country or town where you will relocate to and reach out. I get emails all the time and do my best to answer questions. Ask them the questions you know you have, but also ask what their day to day life is like, this can give you a better idea of what to expect.

2. Think ahead to what you might need for the next few stages.
Will your baby start eating solids and need baby food? Start walking and need shoes? Will your toddler hit a growth spurt and need a whole new wardrobe (seemingly overnight as is usually the case)? What medicines will you need? Diapers? Training diapers? Once you have brainstormed, try to figure out what will be available in your new country. It's also good to know about shipping into the country and if there are restrictions.
3. People will have opinions about your move, and will probably voice them. Be ready with your response.
We come across a lot of surprise, polite questioning of motives, the "oh your families must miss you", and "I could never do that because..." (which is really often a judgement in disguise). We know why we live abroad and the benefits for our family and share these to varying degrees depending on the individual. Some will never understand. Some will be inspired. Some will live vicariously through you.

4. Make a plan of communication with family and friends.
Find a time that Skype works for you. Set up a blog. Facebook pictures. Email. Do what works for you and the folks back home.

5. Bring traditions from home and start new ones.
Christmas in a country that is Buddhist will never be the same as Christmas at home. Easter will go by without a blink of an eye. And you will have new holidays to learn and celebrate. Make the best out of all of it. Bring things from home or recreate holiday traditions and find some new things your family can do and possibly take with you when you leave.

6. Find other families to hang out with.
It'll help. For everything ranging from figuring out where to buy the good diapers to what preschool options are out there to venting about ____. Support networks are always a plus.
7. Think of some routines for bed and nap time that are not place specific.
Moving abroad will inevitably involve many different cribs/beds/airplane seats/laps/car seats - you name it - both during the trip there, but in settling-in and travel once you get there.

8. Know that things will be different, and different is ok, it can even be great! (Though fried pork fiber for baby? Not great).
Are you raising a young family overseas? What advice do you have?

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I live in China with two under two. A couple more things to look into....medical care availability. Immunization availability (if you immunize) and schedule for children living abroad. Also, a huge decision for us was finding living quarters within close proximity to markets, bus stops, etc since I do not drive. My double stroller had to be an inline instead of side by side so I can fit through small checkout lanes and also get it onto a bus by myself. A baby carrier (like an ergo or baby bjorn) is an essential item for me as the Chinese are very hands on and interested in foreign babies and this helps keep hands away from my baby while out an about. I love reading about your experience!