Updated: Mar 30
Moving with kids, during a pandemic, to a new city that's on lockdown?
Moving is hard. Moving with kids is challenging. Moving to a brand new city is tough. Moving during a pandemic is rough. Moving with kids, during a pandemic, to a new city that's on lockdown? Why would anyone do this?!
While many families have limited their personal travel in the past year, there are some families for which hopping on a flight with their toddler, teenager, and puppy in tow, is a dreaded reality that must happen. For families in the Foreign Service community, or others working with corporations and similar entities with offices located abroad, not only will a flight be in their near future, but life could very well be much different once they land in their new city.
"Lockdown can look much different from city to city around the world these days; for some this may mean residents will not be able to explore the city with ease and they won't be able to "see all the things" their new home has had to offer in the past. For others, a "lockdown" could very well mean a family must remain at home and are only permitted to leave in case of emergency. This can prove to be difficult for parents and children alike to reach out and make friends or get to know their new home.
Parents should know, however, that there are proactive ways to help become acclimated to a new life abroad, even when the city is on lockdown.
THAT ONE THING:
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOUR CHILD:
Become strategic in helping your child make friends by helping your daughter understand her SELF.
If families around you are in lockdown mode because of the pandemic, making friends organically may be a challenge. Those natural zones like playgrounds and classrooms aren't providing the social spaces they once had. Parents may be quick to help their children connect with other children their age, and this is a wonderful idea. Sometimes, however, simply sending a note to your new community with an announcement that you've "arrived with a 9 year old girl and looking for playmates", may not be enough. It's hard to say whether instant friends can be made, based solely on an age of a child. Because the social environment isn't conducive to an open "getting to know you" space, simply introducing a 9 year old child to another child about the same age may not lead to friendship.
If you find that your family needs to move to a new city during a complete lockdown and you are fortunate to still receive invites from your new neighbors to join in virtual or socially distanced events, by all means, join in! But, helping your child to develop and get to know herself during this period will serve her well now and in the future when things do return to "normal".
And this is actually a great time for your child to take a deep dive to get to know their own strengths and personality traits. There are several ways your child can do this: have conversations with her and help her see her strengths. Perhaps she's quite intuitive and often notices when her younger sibling needs a playmate or just needs time alone. Maybe she is rather patient or kind?