10 Sayonara Tips – Moving with Kids

moving with kids

This time of year many international families are planning their home country returns or next country moves so thought I would share 10 Sayonara Tips for moving with kids. Moving can be very stressful for parents and kids as they leave their homes, friends and daily routines.

I overheard a mom with her kids at the table next to me the other day talking about moving back to America. The major topic was if they should have a going-away party or not. The kids were quite silent, which got me thinking about what advice frequent global movers would have. I spoke to some friends who have made many moves and pulled together this list of 10 Sayonara Tips!

There were four major areas of advice – dealing with emotions, good-bye parties, memories and communication. All of these are interwoven, however, all take planning and leadership by parents. Hope these tips are helpful. Do you have some great tips for parents moving soon? Share below.

10 Sayonara Tips  – Moving with Kids

Emotions – the hardest part of moving

1. Moving and goodbyes are sad and exhausting. Pace yourself and your family with goodbyes and packing. Plan months in advance to minimise meltdowns. Don’t use all your energy leaving, because arriving on the other end will also be emotional and stressful.

2. It is ok to cry and show emotions. It is hard leaving home and friends. Show your kids it is ok and take the time to talk and hug. Communicate to your children that with social media and easy of travel today that they will not lose touch with their friends.

3. Try to maintain a routine as much as possible. Children will need more reassurance, and there will be higher emotions than normal. Keeping the children in a routine as much as possible is best. If you are not moving until a few weeks after school lets out, send the children to day camp to keep a routine. Simple routines like breakfast, family meals, naptimes, etc. are all important.

4. If you are selling or giving away a lot of personal belonging before your move, do not give away belongings in front of your children. Kids can cry for days over a toy or a sofa they loved.

Goodbye Parties – provide closure and allow for new doors to open

5. Plan a going-away party 3-4 weeks before the big move! Let your kids help pick the theme – sayonara, bon voyage, the theme of next country, etc. A fun twist is to serve food and decorate with the next countries colors and flavors.

6. Since you probably do not want more stuff to move here are some creative good-bye gifts! Buy a flag or country of the country you are reporting and have everyone sign it! Have everyone bring a picture of themselves with our without the departing child and write a message to glue into an empty photo album a the party. Write a note with advice for the child in their new home and school

7. At the end of the party have your child hand out “contact cards” with his/her new address, phone number and email address. If you have an instant camera, take a picture of your child with each attendee and give the photo to each child as they leave as a memento. Contact cards can be printed on adhesive seals and applied to the back of the photos.

10 Sayonara Tips  – Moving with Kids

Memories – small special items that can be taken out and discussed when needed
8. Months before you leave start taking photos of special places – a favourite spot for breakfast, favourite park, school child attended, etc. The photos become the frame to Create a memory goodbye book. Ask your child where their favourite places are and note why. You might be surprised what your kids want a photo of, but it will mean a lot months later when they are homesick for their old home.

9. Make a family keepsake box with memories for all to remember. Take some pebbles from your garden, and acorn from their favourite park, candy wrapper from a favourite candy. The box can be transported easily to the next location and pulled out a night for nighttime bed discussions with children when they want to remember.

Communication – explain, discuss, explain, discuss

10. Over-communicate and explain the details of the move and the plan to your family. Explain the detail of the move to your children (why, when, how, etc.). Do not hide information from them they will resent it later, especially if tweens or teens. Also involve them in key decision making about the departure and the new destination.

To all moving, best of luck and great adventures.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post about how to smoothly arrive and adapt to a new location!


10 Sayonara Tips – Moving with Kids


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  1. One of the most under-shared tips when you move to Japan or moving from Japan, is to not buy new stuff in the next country! So many people come to Japan, buy all new stuff, and where does it go when they leave? To the resale groups and stores. There’s a wonderful Facebook group (well, groups) called Tokyo Sayonara Sales Original and Osaka Sayonara Sales. People can sell awesome, well cared for furniture for super cheap when they are leaving Japan! They end up buying new because people don’t know about these FB groups when they come, so they go to the expensive stores, stretching an already limited budget. Educate everyone you know that when you leave, sell on the FB groups. When you come, buy from the FB groups in that country!

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