I always felt bad for my kids during the summers we spent PCSing. They no sooner finished school, had to say goodbye to their best friends, then the packers would arrive to pack their lives away into boxes. Some of the boxes might never be seen again, and they knew it every time the truck drove off with everything we owned.
Not a fun process especially for kids. So with every move, I try to preserve a bit of their summer. There is no getting around the goodbyes, then a long drive to our new home, an unknown without friends. Somehow they always embrace the process, a new room, a new school and a new group of friends to look forward to.
Here are a few ways that my husband and I use to preserve summer for our kids.
#1 Sign Them Up!
If PCSing early in the summer, I look for summer camps or classes. to enroll the kids. It’s a great way to keep them occupied and meet others who have the same interests. Check your new installation’s Facebook page or Spouses’ Facebook page.
PCSgrades.com has some valuable information in the neighborhood review section, and the great thing is, you can ask the reviewers directly about possible summertime activities through the interactive messaging feature. You can also check with your local library, county recreational programs or your on-base/post MWR or Child, Youth and Services.
#2 Take that Vacation
Taking a vacation when your moving isn’t ideal. But it can actually provide a nice break that your family might need. We’ve taken a day trip or two on our way to our new location. We’ve even taken a full-blown 3-week road trip after our household goods were delivered. I get the basics unpacked: kitchen, bathrooms, and everyone’s bed had sheets. The rest is there when I get back.
#3 Send the Kids on Their Own Vacation
Ask a friend, a sister or a grandparent to take your kids for a few days. It provides a welcomed change of scenery for them and gets them out of the house while you unpack. We’ve also had friends and relatives visit and take the kids on a few outings.
Your new duty station is probably not far from some fun and interesting places. Take a few days or even an afternoon to explore your new location before your spouse has to report to work.
#5 Military & Museums
The America the Beautiful military pass program allows military families to enjoy outdoor experiences in more than 2,000 federal recreation sites to include all national parks, wildlife refuges, and national forests. Free admission is available to all active-duty, National Guard, and all reserve members. Retired military and Veteran military families can enjoy access to the national parks at no cost on select dates throughout the year.
Another great annual deal for the military is the Blue Star Museums initiative. Museums across the country offer FREE admission between Memorial Day and Labor Day for active-duty, National Guard, reserve service members and their families.
#6 Let Them Help
We’ve had friends and relatives help with the unpacking which is a nice diversion for the kids too. Having Grandma or a favorite Aunt help with getting their new room situated is a nice change of pace for them, and it gives you a break.
I never wanted my kids to feel like they were being punished by spending the bulk of their precious summer moving. With a little planning and utilizing some great resources, you can preserve summer even when you are a mover.
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PCSgrades Author: Carla Olivo, PCSgrades Strategic Communications Director, 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 has garnered numerous TV industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News Reporting and Documentary Reporting. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired USMC Lt. Colonel and their two children.