Expat Life: The Guide To Saying Goodbye

As we all know, Singapore is a very transient city.  Many expat families come and go every year but saying goodbye never gets any easier.
Expat Life: The Guide To Saying Goodbye
By Carli Allan
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Some families leave through their own choice, but others are less fortunate and departure is forced on them, causing even more emotional upset. Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that many living in Singapore will have known someone in this very situation over the past two years.

When it’s time to leave there will inevitably be loss, sadness and apprehension involved, but there are ways of making it easier and less traumatic. How parents handle it has a big impact on how the kids adapt. Whichschooladvisor.com has this advice...   

Give them time to adjust: When you break the news to the children about the move try and give them plenty of time to adjust to the idea.  We recommend you don’t hide the move from your kids, as they will have a sense that something is going on. Generally when children get a sense that something is going on, but they don’t know what, they get anxious and assume it is something to do with them.  This can also bring up old behaviours and issues like bedwetting.

Let them talk: Give your child lots of opportunities to talk about the move and help paint a picture for them of how it is going to be.  Talk about what the process will be of moving so they get a very clear picture in their mind.  It’s good to go into detail of exactly what will be happening so that they know what to expect.

Keep them informed: Tell them as much as possible about where they are moving to and find out about things that you know they will enjoy in the area.

Reassure them... that they will be taking all of their toys etc.

Express themselves: We generally recommend either a box or a pin board where you can write notes with concerns that can be talked about either at dinner or at any other time that suits.  It’s important to let your child voice their concerns.

Record memories: Making a photo album of friends is a really nice thing for your child to have.  Let them make the album with you and they can keep it with them for as long as they need it.  If it’s possible they might even get a camera to take the photos themselves (depending on the age).  You could also make a video.

Use their imagination: Use your child’s imagination and if they are young enough, then make up something like "the moving house fairy".  This is very exciting for them as the fairy leaves notes for them leading up to the move and can leave little gifts – then on arriving at the new house you can carry on until no longer needed.  Children love the moving house fairy!

Get them excited about where they are moving too: Think of all the positive things about their new house and the area where they will be living.  If they are moving back to be near family then it can be very exciting.  If they are leaving family behind then reassure them that they will be visiting.

Let them know as much as possible about their new school: And if it’s possible ask their new school if you can be put in touch with anyone whose child will be in the same class so that they get to meet someone before the school starts.

Keep in touch. Let them know they can keep in touch with old friends on Zoom or by email.

Create: Make a memory board of all the lovely things they have done so that when they move to their new house it can go up on the wall as a lovely reminder.

Help with anxiety, worry and stress: Think about using essential oils, homeopathy and Bach flower remedies.

As a parent look after yourself and get friends to help you while you get organised:  Try and pace yourself!  It’s so important to look after yourself at this time because the stress levels can get quite high.  If parents are OK and coping then the family will be OK.

Read-up: There are lots of books about moving so maybe visit the bookshop and buy a couple of books to help.

Keep a routine: Try to keep their routine going as this can help to make them feel secure.

Schedule some time where you can just sit and relax with each other:  When it’s constantly fast and furious we can miss important signs from our little ones that they’re not coping and it’s all too much.   

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