Family Abroad: The kids are fine!

the-kids-are-fine-moving-abroad-with-kids-wanderlust-living

Moving the Family Abroad

When you move your family abroad everyone worries about the kids. Like, oh my god you’re disrupting everything they know and are familiar with, you’re taking them away from family and all their friends, they have to start a new school… oh the horror!!

Then once you actually land and a few weeks go by the first questions people ask you are “How are the kids doing” or “What do the kids think” or “How are the kids adjusting” and let me tell you – THE KIDS ARE TOTALLY FINE. It’s me you should be worried about!!

HELLO. I just moved my entire family to another country, do you have any idea how crazy and stressful that is?  The kids do nothing to plan and prepare or pack for that matter. They just get to wake up in a beautiful new city, well rested and gleefully Snapchatting with all their friends. They don’t have to figure out how to get a bank account, a washer and dryer delivered or the internet installed. They get to sleep in, watch movies, go to brunch and eat pastries all day. (Moving to Spain it’s not Rosé all day!)

But I get it, you worry about them because it wasn’t their choice to move abroad and this wasn’t their life long dream or big idea. They just have to go along with it because well, they just happen to be the offspring of two people that cannot seem to sit still. And whether they like it or not, we’re their legal guardians until they’re 18 so they just have to suck it up and go wherever we go. I know, we’re horrible people.

Okay but really, the children are more than fine! It fact, it is the ONE thing that has been freakishly perfect. It’s been two months since they started school in Barcelona and Hudson has “three” best friends and they’ve both had several playdates and even a couple of sleepovers. Hudson’s class has a Skype group where they all chat after school and I can’t keep up with all the girls McKenna keeps mentioning.

Sure the kids miss some of their friends back in Costa Rica and when the first day of school started for La Paz McKenna was a little sad, and so was I. We kept seeing all the first day of school photos pop up and it of course made us miss Costa Rica. However, that’s actually the good part about social media, the kids are staying connected and in touch with many of their friends.

When I asked Hudson if he was nervous to start school and about making friends he said this…

Me: Hey buddy, you nervous about starting school and having to make new friends?

Hudson: No, not really, I’m cool.

Me: What do you mean you’re cool!?

Hudson: Well, last time I started a new school everyone wanted to be my friend! Mom, it was so easy, I just walked in and people talked to me.

Me: Alright then.

I loved his confidence and positive attitude, but inside my head I was like, “Well that was Costa Rica kid, this is the city” and I silently prayed that he would have a similar experience again.
(As if the city kids were going to rough him up on his first day – HA!)

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First Day of school, 7th and 5th grade.

I was more nervous and scared for them than they were. I was putting them on a school bus for the first time and in a city and country that I was not feeling so ecstatic about at the time. I was really nervous about how welcoming the kids at this school would be and if my kids would be overwhelmed because this school was so much bigger then the school we just came from. Not just in size but with students too, triple the size. I was worried if they’d eat lunch, if they’d sit with someone and if they would get on the right bus to come home. I was never this nervous about their first day ever.

Waiting for them to come back on that bus the first day I was silently freaking out, I was so scared that one of them was going to crash into my chest crying and wanting to go back to Costa Rica. But they got off the bus all calm, cool and collected. So I of course kept my cool and didn’t make a big scene about asking them how it went, but part of the conversation went like this:

Me: How was school today!!?

McKenna: Good, it’s like a real middle school. The hallways are crowded, no one could get their lockers open {giggles} and the lunch room was kind of chaotic.

Me: Kind of exciting right? So on a scale of 1-10 what would you give your first day of middle school? 10 being amazing and 1 being rotten.

McKenna: A 10

Hudson gave his first day a 9

International Schools

Both of our kids have never made a fuss about moving to Barcelona, not once. They never questioned us or challenged us on it, they never asked to stay in Costa Rica and only on occasion do they reference moving back to the States. McKenna wants to move back to Los Angeles, because she wants to be an actress and Hudson wants to move to Minnesota, because Grandma Debbie will buy him anything he wants.

I do have to say that this is not the case for all children. I know people that have had hard times with their children adjusting and I know that it can be very difficult for some children. I do not want to mislead anyone. There will be some big challenges and hurdles for some kids that move countries and start a new school. It’s a big change!! Especially your first move and especially if you are very close to other family members and are in daily or weekly contact with those people. There will be some homesick days.

One reason why I think our kids had an easy transition here in Barcelona is because this was not their first rodeo!  This was not our first move to a new country and it was not their first time starting a new school and having to make new friends.

I also have to say that this is one of the many benefits to having them go to International Schools. There is a constant flow of families coming and going each year, so it’s a place of constant transition. The teachers, administration and parents are used to this. Your kids are never the only new kids, and they are with kids that have typically moved around a bit too, and some of them might not speak the main language either (but they probably speak at least two others). There’s a good chance that they have all been the new kid, so they know what that feels like.

The new kids at International Schools are like shiny new toys, everyone is excited to play with them!

I also believe that age does have something to do with children adjusting well to this international lifestyle. When you move the kids abroad a little younger, I think they are more open to it, they’re not so set in their surroundings, as everyone says “kids are resilient!” The older they get the harder it is to take them away from friends and activities that they know and love. They become more attached to the securities of home, and that’s totally normal. Not saying you can’t do this when they are older, but just know that there may be more resistance and slamming doors. You’ll have to be very committed to moving abroad and have strong reasons why you’re doing it so you can remind yourself of those reasons when things get hard.

We have traveled so much and have now moved a few times so our kids are used to it. It’s their normal. They know how to not only function but thrive in new environments. Which is a skill they will have for life. I am far from a perfect parent and I don’t cook many home cooked meals, but I’ll show them the world and teach them how to be decent human beings in it.

Living Abroad show the kids the world
A photo of McKenna and one of her new friends on the middle school team building trip to the Pyrenees Mountains. Here’s to new friends and new experiences!

 

 

7 Comments

  1. Harris

    Not to mention, the world moves fast now… preparing them for the idea that things don’t just stay the same for 10-20 years at a time is probably a good thing as well. Their job, their location, technology, the people they know – this all changes at a breakneck pace now. So, this will be old hat to them by the time they turn 18.

  2. Betsy

    I read this and weep a little because, in the end, we moved back to the U.S. from France because I didn’t want to stay exactly were we were in France and didn’t know how to tell the kids we were leaving their French friends, their French school, and going to a new French town with a a new French school and, hopefully, new friends, just so mommy would be happier and more fulfilled with her surroundings. It seemed easier to say, “We’re going home.”
    I realize now, with time and hindsight, that they would have been fine. The kids would have been fine and would have adapted and my 14 year old asks me weekly, “Why did we ever leave France.. it was sooooo nice and fun and interesting there.” Sigh. Live and learn. You are a quicker learner than I…

  3. Andrea

    Ahhh. Decisions like these are always SO hard, but no matter where you live there seems to always be it’s own set of problems and choices and it’s all stressful and hard to know what path to take. When we first got to Barcelona I was having a REALLY hard time, I wanted to cut bait and run, but luckily I hung in there!!I hope you are happy where you are now – and hey France will always be there.. go back and visit!!

  4. Amy

    Brava! I love following your family’s adventures, and I think this gift of travel and living abroad will serve them well all their lives. We’ve toyed with the idea many times ourselves, but darn it, my husband does not have a career that lends itself to this lifestyle. Perhaps when he retires we’ll be nomadic.

  5. Andrea

    Thanks Amy!! Well you seem to get around the world just fine anyways! And yes, maybe later in life you’ll find yourself living abroad somewhere for a little bit! Even if you do it for just a year, it’s enough to experience it and enjoy all that comes with it!

  6. Ana

    Hi Andrea,
    Love this post so much!!! Thank you for sharing. I’m researching and planning logistics for my family (2 adults/2 daughters 13 & 7) since moving to Barcelona is big on our list. Everyone is excited and on board. My older daughter and I are the leaders here of this adventure happening. My husband is on board but he’s more the worrisome type. We’ve moved a few times domestically and my older daughter has been in several schools so moving around and making new friends is not at all something she worries about. Plus it helps that she’s super outgoing and a social butterfly (takes after me! lol!).
    You mentioned, you wanted to write a post about the visa process that you did to move to Barcelona. Wondering if you got around to it since I’m interested in finding out as much as possible about the process.

    Thanks!
    Ana

  7. Andrea

    Ana – I have not written the post about the VISA process YET – that is going to be a lengthy one!! But I will. IN fact, we finally pick up our NIE cards this Friday – so it will be finally be official. You will love Barcelona, its a great city!

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