When I and my four year- old son Oliver talk about our move from Holland to Brazil, his eyes start to shine. ‘He digs up memories of those last nights, when we slept in an empty house, no curtains, big matrass on the floor were we slept together, because daddy was already gone’. And that he was even allowed to jump on that matrass. Great memories, that’s how he looks back at it.
I am happy those are the memories that stuck. I, on the other hand, mainly remember the boy being very upset because every time we said good-bye people were crying. I see myself trying to juggle three balls in the air at the same time. How do I arrange all the practicalities? How can I guide my kids best through this transition? And how can I keep faith?
From my own experience and as expat life coach I know how important it is to reflect on the impact of an international move. That’s why we, expat coaches from ‘Feel at Home Abroad ‘, support people to mentally prepare to move abroad. As the interntional movers take care of the practical side, we are there for the emotional part and the existential questions that go with it:’ What are you leaving behind, what do you take with you and who do you want to be in your new country?’.
Pre-departure coaching helps you to leave with realistic expectations, self-knowlegde, a good plan and an open mind.
From our expertise and from our own experiences we present 5 tips for moving abroad!
Five tips for mental preparation when moving abroad
1. Overview and perspective
Moving abroad is like everything in life: make sure you know your goal and how to get there. Focus. Create peace of mind! Make a time-line. This way you’ll see if you’re dedicating your time to what is really important. Practical preparations, saying good-bye and making a good plan for your new country. For kids, this implies literally seeing the picture of the new house or hotel where they will spend the first few nights, faces of friends in their new school. It helps to spot some people in your new town through Facebook / expat clubs. And keep a diary! For kids and adults alike: create a moment of routine and peace before you go to sleep. That brings insights. Structure and routine help you not to forget the essential (practical) things. Allow yourself a moment to see how you are doing in this hectic period. It is an excellent way to already create a routine in your new country!
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2. Keep on smiling
And yes, probably a lot will go wrong. Most likely in your new country even more will go wrong. Try to teach yourself not to get off balance too much by mistakes or delays of others. Give it a swing, solve it, but keep on smiling. Moving abroad is an adventure. Living in an empty house with nothing but an empty matrass on the floor can be bad, but can also be a great adventure in the eyes of a four-year-old. Try to accept what can’t be now or not yet. And focus on what’s fun or special, your own creativity and inventiveness.
‘By allowing yourself to stop and think about your fears and doubts, you can find ways to prevent fears from being reality’.
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3. Don’t deny the shadow side
Don’t we all have two different voices inside us? ‘All will be ok, it’s gonna be a great success, we’ve worked towards it for such a long time!’ And at the other hand, your move is difficult for the people you leave behind, and you don’t want to bother your kids and partner with your doubts. But doubts are there, so take the time to listen to them! It is ok to be scared, it tells you you’re about to do something really brave. By addressing your doubts, you can find ways to prevent them from turning into reality. And you’ll realize what you need to solve, learn who could help you. The same goes for the kids, or even more so. Of course you want them to be happy in their new country. You want to protect them from difficult saying good-byes. But give them space to express their sadness, or frustration that they might not want to move. That they will miss their friends. Expressing their emotions means they involve you and that you can comfort them and find ways to cope with it. This way you teach them an important lesson in life: you enter this adventure together, there is always room for everybody’s feelings, and that you support and respect each other: in good and in difficult times!
‘Keep on smiling’ and ‘don’t deny the dark side’: are they a contradiction? Not at all, that’s called balance.
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4. Find the balance between the here and now and the future.
Kids are so good at it: losing themselves in the here and now. Mark moments in your agenda to plan and arrange everything for the move. And equally important: mark moments where you won’t talk about it. That forces you to be in the here and now. And it creates distance and overview when you are dealing with it later. It is so much more fun to sometimes ‘leave the future the future.’ In the end it is impossible to control everything… Once again: it’s a balance.
“Just as international movers pack your stuff and guarantees it gets to your new country in one piece, we from ‘Feel at home abroad’ make sure YOU YOURSELF arrive in one piece.”
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5. You are not alone
Finally, keep in mind: you are not alone! Accept the helping hand of friends for packing, or to entertain your kids. See it as a warming up for your new country. Accepting help is the easiest way to make new friends. Take a moment for yourself to have a drink with a friend to get things off your chest. And the most crucial when you move abroad with your partner is the communication and relationship with him / her. Make arrangements with yourself and your partner: which are your pitfalls, what do you tell yourself when you are going through a difficult time, how do you keep each other in balance.
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Make sure you create support for yourself and for each other. If possible, organize professional help to stay on your feet, to stay energetic, focused and in touch with yourself. Just as Sirelo packs your things and gets it to your new country in one piece, we from ‘Feel at Home Abroad make sure YOU YOURSELF arrive in one piece. And to help you enjoy all the little steps that come with preparing yourself for jumping into the deep.. Just like our son enjoyed jumping on a matrass in our empty house… Read more about our pre-departure and other coaching packages.
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