5 Tips: Relocating To a New Country with a Toddler

We’re moving!

Yes, I can’t believe it’s actually happening and I can finally say it but in a few weeks, we will be en route to the UK.

Smack dab in the middle of winter.

I know, I know, why submit myself (and Liam) to the torture? I have had my fair share of clueless facial expressions when sharing the news of our relocation to the UK. In December.

Does the cold intimidate me? Not at all. I actually love winter- the cool air, the sparkly snow, the winter fashion; I love it all. I don’t think anyone could convince me of the fact that moving from Barbados to the UK in winter is actually cuckoo.

Anyway.

Relocating anywhere is tough whether it be from home to home, city to city, let alone, a whole other country. You have so many aspects like weather, culture, language and time differences to consider.

Relocating with a toddler in tow?

Daunting is an understatement.

Despite this, it can be done. With little to no hair loss, mind you. First and foremost, this transition is huge for me so I can only imagine the impact it will have on Liam. Here’s how I’m trying to make it a smoother one.

1. Have a Plan

I kinda think this goes without saying. Life with a toddler is one big plan in itself. I have to plan when to bathe in the morning so that it’s timed before Liam wakes up. I have to plan how to carry the copious amount of bags to the car in such a sequence that the last few bags allow me to close the door with my foot because if Liam sees me leaving with the bags he’ll think I’m abandoning him. So my bag trips have to be planned so the second trip allows me to have a free hand for Liam…

… I honestly could not make that up if I tried.

So yea,  toddler could basically be spelled P-L-A-N.

From the time I made the decision to embark on this journey, almost every day has been consumed with constant research into relocating to the U.K. What to look out for, what needs to be in place as well as schools for Liam, housing options and jobs. Since we’re moving in winter, I had to plan clothing shopping to facilitate the new climate we are going into. Oh, the number of times I had to sternly talk myself out of buying a cute short and crop top set. Liam’s winter clothes were  acquired early  on our trip to Fort Lauderdale this year while I was left scrambling to order winter gear in the Black Friday sales.

As mums do.

So far, I think everything has been going to plan. Liam has some school visits lined up, I’m staying with my sister in Bristol and making some waves there before I decide and settle on my permanent location.

Always have a plan.

2. Start Early

The earlier you can start the better. I would not have time to be sitting down typing out this entry if I hadn’t. Granted, I still have a bit to do, but a lot of the groundwork as far as packing everything up has been at least started. I know, this is way easier said than done. Weeks have gone by where I planned to devote my time to more breakdown and packing of the house only to surrender to a Judge Judy binge-watch.

Very addictive.

And while this may sound overly-eager, I have actually started to pack the suitcases. I figured any clothing which will not be worn between now and when I leave but still had a few wears in them were better off packed in the suitcase. Even if they’re just sitting there for six weeks.

Knowing my luck, it will more than likely have to be re-packed but for right now, progress was made.

Judge Judy would be proud.

3. De-Clutter

Another one. Easier said than done, yes.

Living in a house owned by my grandmother who threw away NOTHING and a mother who is attached to EVERYTHING has left a house with a lot to de-clutter. Despite a two-day yard sale almost a year ago, the amount of stuff to sort through is still overwhelming.

The best start to the de-cluttering process?

Priorities.

I’ve decided to start clearing in such a way that I can separate what I’m keeping and taking away with me, what I’m keeping for right now but not necessarily taking with me and what I’m throwing away. Then there’s the stuff I’m just not touching… you know.. cause… attachment.

The whole starting early step kinda gets lot here for me because I’ve been putting this part off for weeks. And I know me, two weeks before I’m due to leave, I’ll be a headless chicken trying to clear everything. If I were to give myself any credit, though, I did sort out my wardrobe which was a natural disaster in itself so…

… baby steps.

4. Find a Routine

Damn, I’m really not making this easy, huh?

“You’re trying to tell me that outside of the already huge task of relocation I must have a plan, be on time, have my priorities in order AND stick to a routine??”

Well, yes.

Routine is another staple of raising a toddler or any child of any age, for that matter. Routines not only help us to not lose our shit but there’s a high probability your child won’t be losing their shit, either. Am I saying to be a robot and never divert from your routine every once in a while? No, of course not. Just make it ONCE… and in a looong while.

I’m kidding (not really).

You’ll thank me.

At three years old, Liam is extremely stuck in the routine I’ve created for him. For example, Liam doesn’t wake up early enough to get breakfast at home so I prepare his breakfast at home to take to school. Once at school, Liam sits down at a little table with his fork and his juice bottle and eats his breakfast. That’s how I’ve left him every morning from, let’s say, June of this year. Now, on the odd occasion, Liam wakes up early enough that I can give him breakfast from home. On one such occasion, I dropped Liam off to school as normal, gave him a routine farewell kiss and hug and as I closed the gate and look behind me, Liam was staring… into my soul… pointing towards his lunch bag… silently pleading for his breakfast.

That he’d already had.

I quickly reminded him he had already had his breakfast and fought tears back to the car hoping he didn’t think I was starving him.

So you see, routine.

When relocating, especially to a place with a different time-zone, sticking to a routine can be extremely difficult. I’ve started to put Liam into bed earlier, in hopes his body will be adjusted to sleeping earlier once in the U.K. Will it work? I don’t know. In the meantime, I will try to continue with Liam’s routine when we move; even the smallest of things like him turning on the light to the bathroom at bath time. I’ve accepted the fact that I may have to start all over when it comes to Liam’s routine.

Fun-fact: Although you may be, your toddler is not tired of doing the same old, same old.

5. Stay Positive

I promise.

I did not set out to make this post impossible.

In the grand scheme of things, although relocating is a great change, it can be hard to remain positive. There’s doubts and questions that will always be playing on the mind. Not to mention, there will be people around you giving all types of advice, much of it conflicting and possibly making you second guess everything you were sure about.

I’m here to tell you- take all of those negative thoughts, put them in an envelope and mail it to the wrong address.

The last thing you need in the whirlwind of chaos that comes with relocating with a toddler is negative vibes.

Trust yourself, trust your instinct and believe in yourself, mama.

You got yourself this far.

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