Starting a new life in a new city (especially as a little one) is hard.
Especially when you leave behind your family, entire support system, friends and your BFF in the entire world. I am not writing this to cue some sort of violin concerto in our honor, but to share a tiny little bit of help that worked for us along the way.
It seems rather obvious, but reading books about moving to my little one helped immensely. We could talk for hours with her about how it was going to be ok, how we would love NYC and make new friends, but when we read about it together, it like someone else (a cooler, more neutral party) was reassuring her instead.
Here are our all-time favorite books about moving / starting over:
1. "Here I am" by Patti Kim. This book is amazing for so many reasons, but because it shows the psychology of moving completely from a kid's perspective. "Here I am" is a graphic novel without words, so it helps a child to tell the story from their perspective as well. Each time we read it, her story changes a little bit and evolves, which is really SO COOL to watch as a parent.
The little boy protagonist moves from one place to another and is extremely overwhelmed at first about the move. Everything is different (language, food, culture, friends, subway, etc.) and he must learn to adjust by trial and error, stepping out of his comfort zone, and by making new friends. Suddenly, one day, he can understand things a little better. When we first read this book, I just about burst into tears because my daughter said "oh, now he is at home" at the end. Give it a read, trust me.
2. "Neville" by Norton Juster. This book ROCKS! So, I don't know about you, but I don't like books that "talk" to kids like they're dumb. This book is clever, heartfelt, and so witty and told from a young boy's perspective. Neville moves to a new city, basically hates everyone and is pissed off in general, then goes out to explore the new neighborhood. While he's out, he starts shouting "NEVVILLLLLLLEEEEEE" and attracts a new crew of curious kid followers. Without revealing the entire book, be forewarned, you will CRY on the last page. Like a deep, ugly, guttural cry.
My daughter LOVES LOVES LOVES "Neville". You know why? Because you get to shout NE-VILLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEEE the entire time. Also, because she didn't ever want someone to say directly to her: "So, you miss your best friends down the street? Here's how to make some new ones? It's really simple...".
She wants to see that by being clever, a little bit tricky, and kind of funny, you can make some new friends. She also wanted someone "her age" (Neville is a drawing, but he seems cool and in touch to her, I can tell) that moving sucks. A lot. But then, it gets better.
I have a plan up my sleeve about a book that I hope comes to fruition someday. A little girl travels the world with her crazy-but-fun-artist-mom and brave-but-silly-world-traveling-dad. Like "Eloise" (but a little edgier) meets "Harriet-the-Spy" (but a little more modern) meets Disney's "Brave" (with a little less hair) meets "Carmen San Diego" (with an equally awesome trench coat).
Like the Jealous Curator says. I just sent that idea out into the universe, so now we will see what happens.