Planning an international move is daunting, especially if you have children. We have made three international moves with our children; here are some suggestions I have, based on my experiences from our moves:
As soon as possible, let children know about the move. For the most part, the older the child the more difficult it may be to leave community and friends behind. Understand this and empathize with them; you will also be leaving friends behind. The more time they have to prepare, the easier the move is in the long-run.
Make it as an adventure! There really are many interesting aspects to an international move. Especially if the move is not permanent, it is easy to make it an adventure.
Assure children right away that they will be allowed to take their belongings to the new home. This includes toys, books, special pillows and blankets, etc. As well, help them collect contact information from their friends – it will help them to know that they can stay connected.
Promise to take favorite pictures and decorations which you have around your house. These will also decorate some of the walls in your new home.
As we have made these international moves, our ‘Christmas box’ has accompanied us to each new location. We decorate every Christmas tree with the same decorations (adding something each year, but always using the ones from before, too.) We also have some favorite Christmas decorations and story books, a table cloth which only gets used every Christmas Eve, our favorite recipes for Christmas baking, etc.
Together with the children, research the country and location to which you will move. Search the library as well as the internet for information.
Expect that your children will have mixed emotions, at best. Some children may be very excited and look forward to the adventure while others may not wish to move at all. It is important to let each child express the true emotions they are feeling.
Have children help with packing for the move. If the child is old enough, they may wish to pack all their own items. Allow them to pack their treasured items (even if they do not seem valuable to you.)
Allow each child to decide how they wish to say good-bye to their friends. One may want to have a party with their classmates, while another may wish to have only their most intimate friends over one last time. They are saying good-bye (which is important!) but they can still keep in contact with each other; it is easy to stay connected these days, even internationally.