Moving internationally can be an exciting adventure but can be a source of stress for children. The process involves significant change, leaving familiar surroundings and friends and adapting to a new culture, possibly new language, and school system. That’s why incorporating stress relief activities for kids into your moving plan is crucial.
This guide will provide practical, easy-to-implement activities to help children manage the stress of an international move.
Being active and creative, not only distracts, but can greatly ease anxiety. Caring for the family is at the heart of what we do here at Plan4Australia, so we are sharing these seven strategies, that are not just fun but also therapeutic. They can help your kids express their feelings, understand the changes they’re going through, and ultimately, make the transition smoother.
Stress relief activities for kids before the big move
Depending on the age, there are many things children can do at this stage. They will not only help you but also help them feel part of the process instead of watching all the chaos.
1. Drawing floor plans of their room or the house, showing all the furniture.
They will love being part of the planning in the new home as to where everything can go. You could take this a step further, and they create a scrapbook or journal of the move, starting from where you are now. Maybe they could draw the airport while you wait to board the plane, draw the air hostess, keep journaling to keep them entertained and create a lifetime keepsake. You could even add their boarding pass, which movies they watched, so many ideas flow from this.
2. Sorting and decluttering
It involves kids going through their own belongings in their bedrooms and even the linen cupboard, deciding what to keep, donate, recycle or discard. For ideas on what and what not to take, read our previous blog.
This simplifies packing and gives them a sense of control over the move. Plus, it’s a great way to teach them about organisation, recycling and the value of giving to others.
3. Planning a weekend getaway in the new country
This will give your kids something exciting to look forward to and help them get acquainted with their new surroundings.
Exploring a new place together can create wonderful family memories and provide a much-needed break from unpacking and settling in. Whether it’s a beach, a historic site, a national park, or a fun theme park, a weekend getaway can be a great way to turn the move into an adventure.
If a weekend getaway isn’t feasible, consider planning five things to do in your new city. This could include visiting a local museum, exploring a public park, trying out a highly-rated local restaurant, attending a local sports game, or even just walking in a new neighbourhood.
Tourism Australia has plenty of activities and places to see for the whole family. Maybe you can start from there.
Top Tip: If your child is not of an age where they can help on moving day, it is best to get them out of the way. It’s OK to see the truck arrive and feel all the excitement, but by mid–morning it will already start getting too much.
Save them from stress by having them go to a friend for a few hours. It is a distraction, and they would love to spend as much time as possible with their friends before they leave.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Others know the stress of moving and are usually happy to come to collect your kids on moving day.
Stress relief activities for kids on moving day
4. Labelling boxes
This straightforward yet effective activity can help your kids navigate the stress of moving because it gives them an active role in the moving process, instilling a sense of control and responsibility.
Start by handing your kids markers and labels and let them take charge of labelling each box according to its contents and the room it’s destined for in the new house. For example
- Mom’s clothes
- Paintings for the living room
- Books for my room
This activity not only aids in organisation, making unpacking a breeze, but it also helps your kids visualise their new space and where their belongings will fit in. This can make the idea of moving more concrete and less daunting. If they are too young to write, then let them draw something representative – it will still keep them busy and productive.
5. Taping boxes
Whether they’re helping to tape boxes closed after they’ve been packed or taping the bottom of empty boxes before they’re filled, this task can give your children a sense of contribution and accomplishment. It can also make packing faster.
Hand them a roll of packing tape and show them how to tape the boxes securely. It’s a simple task, but it’s crucial – the last thing you want is for a box to open from the bottom during the move!
However, make sure to double-check their work. While giving them responsibilities is great, you must ensure they taped the boxes correctly and securely. This can also be a teaching moment about the importance of doing a job well.
6. Collecting all the keys for the house
This tip comes from personal experience. Assign your children the responsibility of gathering all the keys to your current house. This includes not just the front and back door keys, but also keys to the garage, shed, or any other locked spaces.
This task can be turned into a mini treasure hunt, making it a fun game rather than a chore!
However, remind them of the importance of this task – there’s nothing worse than realising the keys have been accidentally packed in a box! In my case, it was window locks, yes, I had put them in a box in my cupboard when we moved into the house so the kids did not play with them – that did not work out well for me and my French landlord was not happy! Actually I think he was more upset about the rosemary bush – that’s another story.
Once all the keys are collected, have a designated, easily accessible spot where they are kept, like a specific pouch or key holder. This way, you’ll know exactly where they are when it’s time to hand them over.
7. Decorating their own boxes
This is especially appealing for small children who love to express their creativity.
Give your kids markers, stickers, and other decorative items and let them personalise their moving boxes. This not only makes packing more fun, but it also helps your children identify their boxes easily among the pile.
For an added touch of magic, consider giving them glow-in-the-dark stickers to decorate the inside of the boxes. This can be a big hit, especially for boxes that might contain their special toys. Imagine their excitement when they open a box in their new room to find it glowing with familiar stars, animals, or their favourite characters!
Other things you have to pack for Australia
Do not put these items in your sea freight:
- Immunisation records. You will need these to present to the Australian Immunisation Register and to the school enrolment officer.
- Schoolwork. Keep some schoolwork to show the new teacher where your child is. This is especially important for Maths and English because it will help the teacher evaluate your child’s progress. It can also highlight a difference in the teaching methods.
- Uniform. If you know the uniform at the new school, and there are similarities between what they are currently wearing, keep these items with you so you don’t duplicate your buying. Examples could be a white button–up shirt, black leather shoes or white socks.
At Plan4Australia, we can help you to shortlist schools that are right for your child. We can arrange tours and support you every step of the way. Remember, we have moved with children. We understand your concerns about moving with children and the children’s emotions. Talk to us. We can guide you.