With 4 young children, I’ve found it wise to think ahead. Within the next year, we will be living overseas in a country that is foreign to us on all accounts.
So Optimistic and I have been thinking up ways to get the kids mentally and physically ready for the trip that will rock their world.
Over the last 3 years we will have moved 3 times and will be adding 2 more moves within 2 years as well, did you do the math? Yep!
That’s 5 moves in 5 years or less
(1 international and 1 back to the States, 3 transcontinental).
Clearly the kids know what moving is like, so this post is more on how to prepare your kids for the new culture, atmosphere, unintended new schedule (due to traveling) and help them look forward to the trip while they are still living in their birth culture.
1. New scents and new flavors. Prepare new foods for the kids to eat at regular mealtimes. Make it their only option. And enjoy the food with them!
Practically: Lately I have been making a lot more hummus, kebabs, curries and feeding the kids spicier dishes in general. For snack options I have been offering dates and dried figs, raw nuts and along with bread and cheese, a more Mediterranean diet. Many countries outside the US eat less processed foods, so we are attempting to prepare the kids’ palates for the new flavors and new food options.
2. Mess with their Mojo. Break some of their comfort zones and get them to be flexible with quick changes.
Practically: Having the kids change where they typically sit. One of our children is very particular in what utensils and plates are used, so we change it up. We attempt to gently rock their boats while in the comfort of their home before being transplanted to a new land, language and culture.
3. Mannerisms. My kids have only lived in America so all they know is the polite mannerisms of Americans and let’s face it, we aren’t that polite most of the time. One way we are intent on the kids doing this is in the new food scene. When eating new foods, if they don’t care for the food offered them, our rule is for them to take one bite and if they still don’t want any, chew, swallow and say “no thank you” if offered any more.
Practically: We have had several instances where the kids just spit it out and declare it disgusting. I am thankful it happened in our home where we could teach them a better way to communicate their dislike. A practical way of being aware of others and being attentive to them is to show politeness in public places. We visit Costco often and the kids love to taste the free food booths. It has become our habit to have the kids look the server in the eye, say thank you and acknowledge their time and energy was spent on feeding us.
4. Transportation adjustment. Most international travels involve sitting a long time (in the airplane during flight), waiting in lines for a long time (immigration, visas stamped, baggage claim, etc), walking a long way (to the baggage claim, to the taxi, to the next airlines gate, etc).
Practically: Give them opportunities where the kids learn to walk longer distances in the every day life. When the kids have extra energy, we have individual races up and down the stairs. I don’t know how many times my kids have had to stand in line at the post office and many times we hit the rush hour traffic where the line is out the door! It’s an awesome time to teach the kids how to stand still and try playing Eye Spy or if they are older the Alphabet Game where they look for an object in the room that begins with A and go from there through the whole alphabet. If you need to work on sitting patiently, provide a maze book for them to do and a timer. Have them see how many mazes they can complete in a specified amount of time.
5. Practice. Getting experience traveling before the big travel day
Practically: We are blessed with the opportunity to fly to Hawaii and visit my sister! This will give me first hand experience in a more relaxed setting to learn what works, what doesn’t and how to help the kids handle the unexpected and the exciting. I realize not every one will be able to have a trial run with traveling long distance, but anything that can remotely be similar (a long car ride to grandparents anyone???) will be better than nothing!