July 25, 2018
No one ever gives you a congratulatory hug or a high five when you announce you are moving. Unless of course, if you are PCSing to Hawaii or maybe Germany.
No, a moving announcement is usually met with downcast eyes, and a “We’re going to miss you” or “I’m sorry” meaning “I’m sorry you are going to go through the agony of having half your cherished possessions stolen or damaged.”
By the time my moves reached double digits, I decided I was going to turn one of life’s biggest stressors into a positive. Sure, there is something very unnerving about leaving a comfortable life for the unknown, but like many military families, we choose to view it as an adventure.
I know it sounds corny, but choosing to view a PCS as a fresh start is essential, especially once your kids are old enough to understand that moving means leaving friends behind. Orders to a new duty station present the perfect opportunity to take stock, examine your own life and refocus on your goals.
1. An Opportunity, Not an Obstacle
Kids definitely take their cues from us. If we look at a PCS as a chore, so will they. My husband and I always viewed moving as an adventure, a chance to learn about a new city and state, an opportunity to possibly meet a new best friend.
Researching your new duty station has never been easier. There are so many resources available. And knowledge is power. It takes the unknown and removes the scariness from it. PCSgrades is a one stop shop of sorts where you can read reviews written by fellow military families for base housing, neighborhoods, realtors, even moving companies. There are also any number of Facebook pages dedicated to specific duty stations. These social media sites are a wealth of information.
Just today I saw a post from a woman moving into my neighborhood. She has two sons, a second grader and a junior in high school and she was wondering if there were other kids their age already living in the neighborhood. Twenty-nine replies later, she had several play dates, and standing invites from other mil-families with boys of the same age.
2. A PCS Move Is a Journey, Not a Destination
The weeks surrounding a PCS were one of the few times my husband ever took a nice block of time off from work. So, I took advantage and tried to turn what could be a very stressful experience into an adventure.
Once our household goods (HHG) were on a truck headed north from Miami, we had a full 12 days before we closed on our new home in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We turned the drive into our vacation stopping to enjoy the history of St. Augustine Beach and the gaudiness of South of the Border.
On another move from the Army War College in Pennsylvania to the Pentagon in Northern Virginia, we received our HHG, unpacked the essentials, and then took a two-week road trip to visit friends at Camp Lejeune and Southern Command.
Traveling during this in-between time before school started and my husband had to report to his new job allowed us to take our time and really relax. When else do you have freedom from a strict schedule of some sort? Enjoy the freedom!
3. Think Positive
When you arrive at your new duty station, get out of the house and venture off base. Exploring your new town can really get your kids excited about living there. For us, it was a trip to the library. My daughter was and still is a voracious reader, so the first thing she wanted to see was the local library. It was her happy place and getting a library card in her new city helped her get excited about living there.
Even if you first arrive and are less than thrilled about your new living space or location, there is always something you can find to appreciate. And finding one good thing often leads to another and before you know it, you’ve fallen in love with your new “home.”
And then a new set of orders come and after the initial “Aww, but I don’t want to leave,” you start all over again. Hmmm, maybe this time it really will be Hawaii or Germany!
By Carla Olivo
A former News Journalist and Military Spouse, Carla Olivo currently serves as the Director of Strategic Communications at PCSgrades, a trusted review website by and for the Military and Veteran communities. She previously served as the Director of Communications for Operation Hug-A-Hero and as the Media/Community Relations Officer for the Delaware Department of Transportation. She is a Society of Professional Journalists award winner and has garnered numerous TV industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News Reporting, News Writing, Enterprise Reporting, and Documentary Reporting.