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Helping your kids settle in a new environment

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Changing and settling in a new environment can be a daunting task for adults and then you can imagine what it holds for children. Parenting blogger, Ese Umoh, has just relocated with her family to an European country, which is quite different in atmosphere, weather, culture and people you have in Africa.

“I started telling my kids pretty early about the move, even when they couldn’t understand it. As soon as the year began I let them know that we would be moving out of Nigeria this year and I referred to it repeatedly until the move. It made them excited about the move, so much so that they initiated a countdown and would ask me, ‘how many days until we leave mummy’?”

Recounting her kids’ moods after relocating, Umoh said, “my son kept asking to go back to his school in Lagos, he seems to think it’s just a short drive away. He also keeps asking when his friends will come visiting. We do our best to explain and hopefully eventually he will get used to it. He was also curious about why everyone had a different skin colour from his.”

In terms of food, it wasn’t so difficult for her kids as they were already familiar with some foods, “I think food was more difficult for me than it was for them. In the initial weeks before we moved into our new home, they had a lot of bread, sandwiches, eggs and sausages, potatoes as well as rice and spaghetti. So, yes a lot of the things they have been eating are things they have been used to.

“It is really important to keep an open mind regarding food before a big move, because most times it will be difficult to find food you are used to and even when you do they are so much more expensive, and the quality is never as good as you are used to in Nigeria.”

She stressed that for parents who will be changing environment/location with their kids, there are a number of important things to be considered.

• School options: It is really important to choose a school that is not so dramatically different from what your child is used to. For us, we had to decide between French speaking schools and English speaking schools but with the same curriculum. We decided it would be easier for him to settle first in the English speaking school before considering a language immersion or any thing of the sort.

• Food: Food abroad can be quite expensive, I’ll advice anyone considering an international move to buy as much Nigerian spices and any other snacks or things that may help them settle in within the first few months. I personally rarely eat Nigerian food, but I noticed that being so far away from home has made me crave our food so much more.

• Toys or familiar items: it is also important to take a few familiar toys or other items to help the kids settle in initially so they don’t feel the effects of the very drastic change.

• Do It Yourself (DIY): In Nigeria, it is the norm to have someone around in most times to help with taking care of the kids, or to help out with cleaning, running errands, cooking or even just driving the family around. In most places abroad, getting help is a luxury. You will find that you will need to do every single thing, down to fixing your furniture and making your kids’ hair, or you will have to pay a huge sum to get help.

• The weather: It is really important to own a weather app and refer to it daily before making decisions on how to dress your kids and even yourself. The Nigerian life where you just dress up and go out is a luxury.

Moving to a new environment can be quite exciting, especially for kids as it opens them up to new activities and new experiences. Like a wise man once said, the best form of education is travelling.


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Ese Umoh
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