Moving a Child from the East to the West

Flat Illustration Of Travel On Airplane

Packing Toys before Relocating

By Sarah Suhail

Sarah Sohail, Contributor

Sarah Suhail, Contributor

I’ve done this before. The boxes, packing material, deciding what stays and what goes. I’ve said the goodbyes to my favorite things. I’ve been angry with my parents for uprooting me and changing my world, as I know it. I’ve done it when I was four and then again when I was 16. Both times were traumatic in their own ways.

But this time, it’s me doing the uprooting and it’s my 4-year-old daughter who’s saying bye to her toys, her room, her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. We’re leaving our family and roots behind because of the security situation of the country and because I want to give Aaliyah experiences that only a developed country can provide.

The decision to move was made after we got stuck in a protest and I had to put Aaliyah on the floor of the car and cover her with my body to protect her from aerial firing. I feel like I’m dissing a country I love – Pakistan is fabulous – but it was time to move on.

Culturally, we were lucky in that she preferred to speak in English, so language adjustment wasn’t a problem. Also Toronto has such a diversity of people ethnically, she didn’t feel like the odd one out.

The biggest element of change that we had to prepare her for was living without the extended family. She’s the same age I was when my parents packed us up from Pakistan and moved us to Alaska in December…yes December. But now were moving from Pakistan to Canada–in December. Yes we’re a bit crazy but aren’t we all?

Now ask a spoiled, only child living in an extended Desi family to let her toys go and you’ve got a fight on your hands – unless you handle it just right. And yes, I’ve got a phenomenal kiddo who turns the TV off by herself to do her homework so her level of maturity has definitely come into play. But I’ve also figured out a few fabulous tricks that I hope will help someone else moving with small children.

Moving a Child from the East to the West- Packing Away Toys before Relocating(1)

  1. Tell them that you’re moving and that everything in their life is about to change – the weather, size of the house, even the people they live with. Kids are so sensitive to everything – it’s easier for them to handle it if they know what to expect.
  1. Be in charge while simultaneously letting them make truly important little decisions. Like pick a box that limits the amount of toys they get to take but let them decide what goes in it.
  1. Ask them to pack with you even if you have to repack. It’s exciting for them to toss things in a suitcase and this way things don’t just disappear from their room. They understand where it’s going.
  1. Spoil them. Time and time again. It can be with unlimited TV, candy, play dates, favorite foods, anything. This will make their life nicer making your life easier.Moving Boxes
  1. Let them say goodbye to anything you’re leaving behind. If they want to play with a toy that you’re selling for a few hours let them, even if it delays your schedule a bit.
  1. Talk to them about all the new things they have to look forward to and make sure you follow through. Whether its parks, aquariums, change of weather, additional family – tell them what to expect and show them all the things you promised when you get there.
  1. Tell them the only thing that matters is that your family will stay together. Reinforce this with hugs, kisses, co-sleeping. Whatever works for your family. Just make sure they know that your immediate family will always be together.

These little monsters are so much smarter than we give them credit for. Sure they’re smaller, messier, and noisier and often get in the way because they’re slower. But give them a chance to be independent little people and I guarantee you’ll be surprised.

Moving is hard on us adults. But children, man oh man, they can’t even express the stress that their little hearts and minds experience. Give them a hand by letting them give you one. Be a team – it really is the only way. Once were done packing toys this week, I’ll ponder over how to get a Desi kiddo to accept living with just her Mama and Baba rather than with the grandparents (all four of them), aunts, uncles and cousins. From one humungous family we’re going to be just 3 people. It promises to be an adventure.


More about the Author

Sarah Suhail is a momma of two – one on earth and one in heaven. She’s gone from being a teacher to a social media and human resource strategist with many professions in between. Writing started off as a passion to connect with awesome people around the globe. Her mommy blogging revolves around rediscovering the world through her daughters eyes by finding dragons in the clouds and painting fairy houses for their garden. She has written for tech giants, global consultants and writes for two of her own blogs: Trippy Traingle and JigsawHR. When not writing she’s crocheting, baking, drawing and watching cartoons with her daughter.

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There are 3 comments

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  1. Sanober

    Hi Sarah! Welcome to Masalamommas and Toronto. From one expat mama to the next, you and your lil one will be just fine. We ve been in your shoes. Leaving the family was the hard part but you’ll make up for it by marathon skype sessions and photo/vid documenting her every move! Looking forward to sharing stories with you and please let us know how we can help with the transition!

  2. Sarah Suhail

    Thanks for everything Sanober! Will totally be teaching it to you more! And yes…. Marathon Skype sessions for sure! 🙂

  3. Joyce J.

    Moving is always a big change for the little ones, indeed. We’ve experienced this too many times, but it was only me and my husband. Now we three already and we are planning our big move to Canada. We are moving in the middle of the next year but I’m already trying to plan some aspects and do some lists. Thank you for your advices. It’s good to read from someone who’s done it already, your experience is very valuable for me. I’ll have on mind all your tips while helping my daughter to get used to this idea. Thank you for sharing!

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