Moving to New Zealand as a family: 6 Tips for parents
Remember the last time you tried to get your toddler to eat something new? It didn’t necessarily go down well, did it?
Children don’t always take to change immediately.
Now imagine the moment you tell your child you’re moving to New Zealand. That’s a change so much bigger than a new menu item.
Don’t worry, though!
While moving overseas with kids is not easy, it’s not Mission: Impossible either. As parents, you can make it a pleasant (even enjoyable!) experience for children of all ages with these six tips:
1. Breaking the news
Tell your children you’re moving to New Zealand as soon as you’re confident it will happen. Don’t wait until it’s time to pack up the house! Your children will need time to process the news and get used to the idea.
Get them on board by explaining the reasons for the move and sharing information about New Zealand.
Focus on things that would get your children excited. Do you like going to the beach? Tell them about New Zealand’s beautiful beaches. Even better – show them using Instagram or YouTube videos.
Encourage your children to ask questions, too! Give them honest answers in return. You must create a safe space for your children to communicate their concerns, fears, and curiosity right from the start.
Finally, make it clear that the family is doing this as a team and that you’ll need to work together for a successful and happy move.
2. Continue to communicate
It’s vital to check in with your children throughout your emigration. Find out how they’re feeling. Your kids are going to experience a range of emotions!
You can keep it casual. For example, have conversations at breakfast. It might also be a good idea to have one-on-one conversations. Children often open up more when talking to dad or mom alone.
Whatever your children’s emotions, let them get it all out. Your job is to listen and let your kids know you are there for them throughout this adventure.
3. Let your kids explore New Zealand
Unless you’ve already been to New Zealand, your children won’t know what to expect. That could make the prospect of moving daunting!
Introduce them to your soon-to-be-home as soon as possible with online guides, YouTube videos and age-appropriate books. You’ll also find many articles online with facts about New Zealand specifically for kids.
Once you know where in New Zealand you’ll live, research the city and neighbourhood together. You can ‘walk’ through areas with Google Street View.
Let your children guide the research. Ask them what activities and fun places they’d like to visit. These include parks, libraries, museums, zoos, and swimming pools.
Once your children are familiar with the sights and sounds of the city, ask them where they’d like to visit first. Set a date for soon after you arrive. That’ll give your kids something to look forward to.
4. Make your children feel involved
Making your children part of the planning process as much as possible is essential! It helps them feel valued. It also gives them a connection to their new home.
For example, let your children decide how they want to decorate their bedroom. You can also let them decide which of their belongings they’d like to pack or leave behind. Give some input but don’t control the process.
You can get teenagers involved on a larger scale. Get their input on the neighbourhoods where they’d like to live, what schools they’d like to go to, or show them houses you’re considering.
You don’t have to let them make the final decision about any of these, but consulting teenagers on decisions that’ll affect them (and taking their feedback on board) will foster goodwill.
5. Make time to say goodbye
Let your child have plenty of play dates with their friends before making the big move. Let them see grannies, grandpas, and other beloved family members often.
It’s important also to let children understand that their friendships and relationships with family aren’t at an end. Explain that they can stay in touch and do so once you’re in New Zealand.
Before you go, organise a farewell party with friends and family. You could do one big farewell or separate ones for the adults and kids.
Farewells will allow everyone to say goodbye before you leave. It’ll create great memories too! Take lots of photos and put them up in your new home.
6. Make the big day exciting
Kick off your family’s adventure on a high note by making the moving day special! Here are some ideas:
- Camp out together as a family in the lounge the night before. Watch movies on a laptop and have everybody’s favourite snacks ready!
- Prepare a special breakfast or go out to your favourite café one last time.
- Take a family photo in front of your house and frame it.
- Let grandparents drive you to the airport to give everyone extra time together.
- Ask everyone to share what they love most about where you’ve lived and what they’re most excited about your new home on the way to the airport.
- Pack an activity pack for each child, and hand them to your kids at the airport.
When you’re moving overseas as a family, open and regular communication with children is critical to address their feelings and concerns. Listen more than you talk!
To get your kids on board and looking forward to what lies ahead, involve them in the process and let them explore their new home online or through books. It’s essential also to give your children the chance to say goodbye to their friends and family. Don’t leave without doing so, or you’ll have unhappy children!
The final step to success is making the moving day special. There’ll be no time for tears when everyone is excited about the family’s new adventure.