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Moving Overseas with Children - the Big Adventure

By Sarah Liebetrau - 1st June 2012

In six weeks, my family and I will be moving to Toronto, Canada from Newcastle, Australia. My husband was offered the opportunity for a transfer with his job, and after much discussion, we decided to take it. The initial contract will last for two years, with the option for us to return home after that time. The two-year time frame makes it doable for me – who knows what will happen after that? We don’t have to decide right now.

Despite the logistics being smoother due to the company assisting us with the move, it’s still a big transition. New country, new faces, new accents. We have talked about it with the children in order to prepare them, and they seem excited, although of course they can’t really grasp what it means to move overseas – which many of their comments show!

When my son Alex, who’s 6, found out we were going to rent out our house while we’re away, he said, “But what if the kids living here lose my toys?” I assured him he could bring his toys with him.  He said he’d prefer we just left the house vacant rather than rent it out. I tried to explain about mortgages and said we could have the house back when we return.

I told my daughter Maya that we would go to Canada after she turned four. Yesterday, on her fourth birthday, she woke up and said, “Are we moving to Canada today?”  I explained that she could be four in Australia for a little while first, and then we’d go.
When a Canadian friend suggested we buy a season pass to Canada’s Wonderland, a theme park with a dinosaur exhibition and water play area, I looked it up online and showed my son. His eyes widened. “I want to live in Canada forever!” he announced. It was then that I realised he thought that what I was showing him was the place we were moving to, that we would be living full-time inside Canada’s Wonderland. He added, “Doesn’t anyone ever cry in Canada?”

I think I have some expectations to manage, as they say in corporate-speak! I know my children are resilient, but I’m also prepared for some tears as their world changes. I won’t be talking to them about ‘great opportunities’ but I will be teaching them that it’s ok to be sad about the things we’re leaving behind, and that we will find lots of fun things to do when we get there too.

Alex in particular expressed concern about leaving his friends and what would happen if he couldn’t find any friends in Canada. Maya piped up, “Don’t worry, Alex, I will find some four-year-old friends and I’m sure some of them will have older brothers and sisters for you to play with!”

I’m confident that our little family unit will provide all the structure they need to cope with the upheaval.  And I think in the long run they will see that we really are lucky to be able to have such a big adventure.

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