Moving can be hard enough, especially for military families who seem to face the task more often than others. Moving overseas? It’s tough on a whole new level, albeit exciting if you enjoy traveling and learning new cultures and places. Families can choose to drown in the overwhelming nature of these massive moves, or they can embrace the exciting time and dwarf their feelings of fear or anxiety by prepping in practical and emotional ways for the moves. Here are some great ideas to help your move overseas go as smoothly as possible.
Study, Study, Study
When you get the orders to move, not just across the country, but overseas, your first reaction may be one of fear or anxiety. What will your spouse think? Will the kids be okay in a new place? Will we pick up on the culture and language? What if we don’t? What about family back home… what will they think? The best thing to do is start jotting down all of your questions, and then get to work on doing your research.
Whether you love the orders or not, your duty is to respond, and it would behoove you to help your family embrace the orders by researching some things to help you mentally prepare. What’s the culture like? What are the schooling options? Is it economically similar to life in the United States, or vastly different? Begin studying so that you can help your family to prepare and eliminate as much culture shock as possible.
Prepare the Kids
Once you and your spouse feel adequately prepared to answer questions, and you yourselves feel great about the move, you’ll want to prepare your children. Have a sit down with them to let them know where you’re going, and why it’s really exciting. Tell them about all the ways life will continue to be normal (schooling, family time, and some form of community involvement), and prepare them for things that will be different. Most of all – though it’s natural to be sad in leaving family and friends, don’t show any unnatural pre-occupation with anxiety or sadness about the move, as kids will follow suit.
Learn the Language
At a bare minimum, you’ll need to start learning the basics if where you’re going isn’t an English speaking nation. You’ll pick up on most of it when you’re there and submerged in the culture, but it’ll help ease the difficulty of the transition if you’re familiar with key phrases, words and concepts right from the get go. Make it a fun family night to quiz yourselves on these words and phrases – it’ll help the entire family to learn, and will aid in building excitement for a brand new culture.
Prepare Your Documents
There are so many different documents that you’ll need to rummage through before, during and after your move. Thankfully, the military branch you support should help you in navigating this paperwork. As far as what you need on your end, it would help to take a day to make sure it’s all in one location and up to date. Once you get where you’re going and settled, be prepared to navigate a whole different stack of them for tax purposes, property purposes (if you’re not living on a base), and for work purposes (if your spouse is choosing employment off the base).
Prepare Other Family Members and Stay in Touch
The hardest part about moving overseas is leaving family and friends, without question. Put their minds at ease by sharing in what you’re learning, and reassuring them that the relationship will continue without strain even despite the distance. Research all of the different methods of how you’d like to stay in touch, and go ahead and make standing “dates” for phone calls, Skype calls, and FaceTime calls. Having standing date times will help ease the transition, just knowing when they’ll see your face again.
Moving overseas is a huge, life changing event – one that can be difficult for families to adapt to. Be prepared in the process to make the transition as easy as possible for you and all of those involved.