Helping Kids Adjust

Our family has enjoyed several long stays in France. But perhaps the most special was the spring we spent in Provence. Our daughters were in Kindergarten and First Grade when arrived in a tiny village outside Aix. I enrolled them in the local elementary school where they finished the school year. 

We still talk about that trip. The girls remember walking to school with our neighbors and playing in the village water fountains. They talk about judo lessons and birthday parties and school performances. I remember struggling through french conversations and awkward cultural misunderstandings...

But the best part, was the time was spent together: exploring France, laughing at ourselves, eating our way through the markets. Figuring it out together...

Kids will absorb a lot of changes. But you even so, you're all bound to have a few rocky days. That's totally normal! Try not to over-analyze a bad day. Sometimes a bad day is just a bad day and nothing more. And if such a bad day occurs, this is a perfectly acceptable dinner: bread, cheese, chocolate and wine. (Omit the wine for the kids.)

Here are my top 5 tips for helping kids adjust:

  • Enroll them in after school activities ASAP. This was completely counter-intuitive to me. I thought But they are taking on so much right now - I don’t want to bombard them with more newness. But the truth is – that’s how they make friends. If half of the kids in your child’s class take lessons at the Salle de Judo after school, get your butt into that studio and sign up. Your child will start to feel like they have something in common with the other kids – and you will start to feel part of the community.
  • Figure out the play date scene. If the kids in your child’s class go to the park after school, then pack some snacks and go to park after school. If your child wants to have friends come over, say yes – even if you think they are tired and need to rest. The truth is, they need friends more than they need an extra hour of downtime.
  • Don’t worry about grades! More importantly, tell your over-achieving kids to not worry about their grades.
  • Develop a flexible routine. You can’t stay in “vacation mode” for 2 months. Kids need to settle into some semblance of a normal life.
  • It’s good for the kids to see that you get nervous too. Just talk to them about what you are doing to help yourself feel better. They are watching you to figure out how they are supposed to deal with all of this. Lighten up, laugh and have fun!