Norma Davila, Ph.D., CPRW, CPCC, SHRM-SC
What Makes Family Relocation Easier
3rd in a Series | Voice of Experts
In this blog series, we are talking about the effects of relocations on families. In previous blogs, we described today’s different types of families. We also shared specific examples of how families react to relocation as the first step to crafting practical solutions to meet their needs.
Let’s look at what can make relocations easier for families because maximizing the impact of those features is critical for a successful move. REA coaches who are supporting families in their relocations identified research, planning, communication, and affiliation as major elements that contribute to positive relocation outcomes.
Becoming familiar with the new community before relocating reduces the uncertainty associated with doing something new. REA Coaches Anke Hoebers, Anikó Lenkei, and Patti James highlighted some research topics useful to spouses and partners such as professional and social interest-related networks and activities as well as ex-pat groups to pursue hobbies and interests.
Information about schools and sports clubs, which Anke provides, offers children a sense of “security”. Similarly, Patti confirmed that daycare and after-school programs in the new area are very important because tend to be in short supply in most areas.
After families have this information about their new communities, they are ready to plan their relocation.
Anikó suggests scheduling relocations to minimize their impact such as after the school year ends. At a more specific level, Patti recommends to families with school-aged children keep in mind that they may need to manage the school year transition in temporary housing.
Anikó also proposes to consider moving in phases in some cases, especially, when the relocation represents a major cultural change and as a way to avoid moving twice when the initial housing is temporary. When employees who are being relocated move before the rest of the family, they can get settled into their new job and become fully focused on their new tasks, teams, and working environment. They can then provide attention and energy to their family’s integration into the new community and the children will only need to adjust to one new environment.
The needs of family members who require additional care and cannot relocate also have to be anticipated and addressed before the move. Anikó recommends involving other family members and friends to create a detailed plan to do so and schedule family holidays and visits ahead of time.
Plans can become prompts for conversations about the move.
Families can address needs and concerns collaboratively when all family members express them openly. According to Anikó, validating the emotional needs of younger family members creates a space for them to gain new perspectives, remove any self-limiting beliefs, and turn the relocation into opportunities. Children who may be less open to expressing themselves may be willing to talk casually while sharing a joint activity such as going out for a hike or bike tour. Parents can use these opportunities to ask them about what they think, expect, fear, or need and brainstorm about what they would like to explore in their new communities.
Feelings and concerns about group belonging and acceptance can be addressed before families leave for a smoother transition.
Anikó, Anke, and Patti emphasized the importance of joining groups that bring together like-minded people around interests, such as hobbies, yoga, mindfulness, sports, creativity, and spirituality, for the family’s mental and emotional well-being. Interactions and conversations are more natural in these groups and, thus, new members can integrate easily. Other groups such as book and reading clubs as well as newcomer, parent, and professional groups also offer a sense of belonging.
With today’s technology, families can begin to meet and make friends within their new communities before they move through special interest groups in social networks such as Facebook as well as Meetup groups. Initiating these relationships before they move increases the likelihood of finding at least one “familiar face” upon arrival.
If you relocated before, what made the relocation easier for you and your family? If you have not, what are you doing now to prepare for the relocation?
Let’s pause. You don’t have to handle the relocation by yourself!
A professional career coach can help you in several ways, including:
Curating information about the new community so that you can focus on the relocation’s logistics and your family’s needs
Suggesting ways to maximize opportunities to begin to establish relationships before relocating
Exploring hobbies and volunteer work to expand your network and acquire new skills
Serving as a sounding board to define your new short-term and long-term career options
Creating a comprehensive customized job search strategy which includes writing a new résumé and providing practical interview preparation advice for your new employment environment
REA’s coaches specialize in assisting professionals and their families to address these issues and many others. You don’t need to navigate your family’s relocation alone -- we’re here to help! Check out REA Flex Coaching services to help you get a jumpstart on your path to a successful relocation!
Coming up next in this series, in The Voice of Experts, several professional career coaches who work with families in their relocation journeys will share some of the challenges that families face during their relocation and what they can do to overcome those challenges successfully.