Moving to Spain is an adventure, and what makes an adventure colorful is the ups and downs. It has been four months since moving to Spain. I am grateful after all the careful planning, we have finally settled down from our first phase of international moving. Both toddlers Luana and Maya, are happy in the new international nursery school. We found a new apartment where metro and public transportation systems are close by, the residential permit is working in progress without issues so far (fingers cross), and my husband begins to work after the New Year.  

Many people have asked my husband and I how we managed to move with two toddlers? Yes! It requires a decent amount of work, but great things never come easy.

If you are also planning to move abroad with the little one at home to achieve your dream, let me share with you some of my hard learn experiences from moving to Spain. Keep in mind that every child has a unique personality, and each family shares different situations.

FIVE tips on moving abroad with a toddler:

  1.  Communication is the key, but no need to overdo it. Toddlers adapt incredibly well to life’s little shakes up, tell them it is an adventure, and show them videos or pictures of where you are moving.
  2. Make a detail moving lists; You can use Reminder APP to stay organized.
  3. Plan ahead! An international move with two toddlers is a commitment, be sure to do your homework and start planning as soon as possible. Planning can help you to stay prepared and more prepared as the time approach to the moving date.  
  4. Pick favorite toys, security blankets or comfort towels, as you want to make sure they have the essential comfort item in the new home, The baby comfort item is a transitional object that can help a baby feel safe and secure
  5. Making toddlers feel involve is vital during the process. Leave the luggage out and let them pack part of the items with you. 

What to expect after moving abroad and tips to help your toddlers to settle-in?

No matter how much we have prepared for the move, there are so many situations to deal with. Hold tight! The adjustment period is often a bit bumpy. 

Lose Appetite

In the first few weeks of arriving in Spain, both children are not eating well.  We took kids to the supermarket and let them choose the food they like, but they always end up selecting snacks. We also tried to prepare food that is similar to those we eat in Taiwan, and it just did not work out well during the first couple of weeks. The doctor advises that It is common to lose appetite right after a long journey. The disruption of sleep patterns, jet lag, dehydration, change in water, food, and environment may cause toddlers to lose appetite. 

If you experience the same situation, you can start with something simple. Toddlers are developing food preferences, offer a variety of healthy food. For example, Rice can be fried Rice, congee, risotto, basmati rice, jasmine rice, Japanese Rice, and so forth. Be fun and creative. Stay with a family eating routine, share a meal (without media) as often as possible. Present the dishes to toddler, and if your child refuses to eat, just removed the plates without anger or frustration, let your toddlers handle food fight, this will allow them to listen to their bodies and use hunger as a motivation to eat the next meal. My children’s appetite recovered in about a month. 

Emotionally Unstable

Moving is tough for kids, and they usually dislike changes. Research suggests moving as early as possible, as it can potentially impact a kid’s mental health as they grow older. However, there is always a process regardless of which age you have decided to move with children. 

During our first six weeks in Barcelona, I have selected a temporary Airbnb apartment in the city center; it is a century-old building, and the insulation of the apartment is quite weak. We were able to hear people walking, talking, taking lifts up, and down the building. It creates quite an amount of stress for our children, especially at night. Adding on the international moving, both toddlers seem to be more sensitive and get upset about things very quickly. 

If you are facing the same situation, you can design a few activities such as going to the park or art & craft. It can lighten the mood and create a distraction; Stick to the same routine and retain stability. Although many things have changed almost overnight for them, stick to the old schedule as much as possible, keep the same meal/bath/nap/bed time, as it may give your toddlers a sense of familiarity. 

Go Home

Toddlers may start expressing “go home” in a few days or weeks. they may ask some of the family members, such as “grandpa?”  

You can try to tell your children where you are, and this is the new home. Bring them back to the places where you have shown them the videos and pictures before moving abroad. If your toddlers ask about family, go ahead and schedule a Facetime with them, this allows toddlers to see that these people are still around if they would like to talk to them. Last but not least, join nurseries in your neighborhood or find playdates if possible. The earlier your toddler begins interacting with other children and making new friends, the better.

Getting Sick Often

Sending toddlers to school is an advantage to help them settle down. However, it is also a disadvantage as the schools inherently foster the transmission of infections. The moving stress may also weaken the immune system. Both my toddlers seem to get sick very easily in the first few months of Spain. 

Be sure to check with your health insurance company, understand the health care system, know the nearest hospitals and pharmacy, and memorize the emergency contacts.

Possessive with things

Possessive is a typical phase for children around three-year-old; their sense of self is becoming more sophisticated. However, your children may appear to be more obvious after moving abroad. For example, she may want to carry her favorite water on her hand everywhere, or she repeats by asking where her toy is? Toddlers at this age still cannot completely understand the entire moving process, and they may be feeling a sense of losing something such as her toys and people they use to see.

Being possessive is part of the growing process; it is crucial to help your children learn by explaining the situation to them. There is no need to take away the belonging from toddlers since it is a form of security for them. In my case, when all my shipping belongings arrived in Spain. She slowly grows out of it and let go of the object. 

It is undoubtedly quite a stressful event to move with toddlers. However, if you plan correctly, moving abroad is manageable; Toddlers will see changes around them after moving to the new country but not quite fully understand why these changes are happening. They are very likely to become stressed just like you may, and everyone responds to stress differently. As a parent, pay close attention to them for any changes in behavior and be ready to deal with it, reassure to give comfort, and develop a sense of security for your toddlers the best way you can. 

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