When we first started talking about moving to Australia, our boys were excited. They wanted to feed kangaroos, cuddle koalas and go whale watching. The adventure of a new home sounded fabulous to them… when it was just talk. The month before we left the UK, T2’s attitude changed. Someone at one of our leaving parties mentioned in passing that he was going to speak funny when he got to Australia. Such a small comment really upset him and he cried at night for days about how he didn’t want an accent.
How do children adapt to change?
Then the doubt in his mind grew. He’d cry randomly because he didn’t want strangers to live in our house (which had sold a couple of weeks before), then he cried because he didn’t want to leave Nanna and Grandad and Faraway Grandma and Faraway Grandad (my parents lived 5hrs away from us in the UK so this was their nickname – it’s a little bit ironic now!) He cried because he wanted to go back to pre-school, and he cried for reasons he didn’t understand.
Comforting him while I was emotional was really difficult. Even though I knew 100% that moving to Australia was the right decision for us as a family, the last month in the UK was the hardest month of my life as I was so worried about how the children were going to adapt to the change. Not only were we busy doing the admin involved in closing down our lives in the UK and setting up our new lives in Australia, but we were trying to do this with the kids around as we made phone calls to close accounts, sold our car and organised our paperwork. To top it off we were living with family and although it was lovely spending quality time with everyone, it meant the kids had no routine and this made them more of a handful than usual. Plus every few days we had to say goodbye to someone we loved.
On the morning we left, I was so thankful we’d booked a morning flight as it meant the taxi came to get us at 6.15am. It gave us very little time for tears (although there were plenty when we got in the taxi) and although the night before T2 had been upset about getting on a plane, on the actual day he was a brave little star.
My boys were utterly incredible at the airport and on both flights. I still can’t quite believe how well they did. T2 pushed aside his fears about the move and got into the excitement of the adventure. The boys watched movies, played games, drew some pictures and had a few sleeps. When we finally landed in Australia and were met by a taxi and our friends, we were totally wiped out but the boys were ready to explore and couldn’t wait for new experiences and to see their new home.
After sleeping in late on the first morning, they wanted to get outside and check out our new surroundings. After their first visit to the beach and the nearby park, they both announced that they loved it here. After spending day two on the beach with some new friends, they both decided this was the best place to live, ever. And they never wanted to go back home, except maybe for holidays. And only if they are allowed to go on the big aeroplane again.
We’ve been here two weeks now and each day they explore new places and grow in confidence. They’re introducing themselves to everyone in the parks by saying “hi, we’re from England and strangers bought our house!” They love speaking to Nanna and Faraway Grandma on Skype and so far the only difficult conversation we’ve had has been when they asked if they could invite their friends over for a bbq and we had to explain it was a bit far to come for an afternoon. Despite travelling for 30 hours, they haven’t registered just how far away we are from home.
Apart from being crying most of the time on the plane, E has adapted to the changes too. She is loving the parks and the beach and is even managing to keep her hat on in the sun (something she refused to do in the UK!)
I was so worried about how the kids would adapt as I knew that if they struggled, it would be difficult for us all. Thankfully, as it is such a welcoming place for families, we’ve all been made to feel at home by everyone we’ve met. From the lovely people who own our holiday let to the fantastic staff in the car sales office I mentioned on my Facebook page a few days ago and the real estate agents who’ve been happy letting our boys run around their rental houses to the shop assistants that have taken the time to chat to the kids – we haven’t had a single bad experience yet.
If you’re looking to move somewhere different with your little ones and are worried about how they will cope with it, my advice is to go for it. We’ve cut the boys a bit more slack than usual (we’ve certainly had more tantrums since we arrived but some of that has been down to jet lag and the heat as much as leaving our home behind) and we’ve tried our best to build in plenty of time to do fun things with them to show them why we brought them here. This means in between all the boring admin jobs we’ve had to make time for picnics and park visits so they have something to look forward to all the time. We’ve also been trying to include them in decisions, like which rental property they like best (which usually comes down to which park is the closest!) So far, so good.
Our next big job is picking them a school so they can start ‘prep’ year in January. Fingers crossed they adapt to that as easily as they have to their new life in the sun.
PS Another bit of good news is that lots of the kids TV over here is from the UK. Mister Maker, Numtums, In the Night Garden, 64 Zoo Lane…at least half of the television I’ve seen is from Cbeebies so they can still keep up with their old favourites. And I believe when we move into our own rental we can get a TV package that might even include Cbeebies if we feel the need to. Although I’m intending on enjoying the outdoors so much that we probably won’t get much time to watch it.
I’m linking this post up with Seychelles Mama’s ‘My Expat Family’ linky. Hop over and check out the other families living far away from home.