By Rheanna Christine, National Guard Spouse
Ah… PCSing with kids. After months and months, you’ve finally gotten an almost definite date for your PCS. It might actually happen soon, and now you mentally begin to prepare for packing your three kids into a car and heading from one side of the country to another.
PCSing with Kids
A PCS can be a daunting task even before you get in the car. Purging your house, packing up, choosing a DITY move or not, meeting weight limits and making sure you have all your “important” documents is usually enough to cause stress levels to rise to all-time high. Throw in a couple of active kids, maybe a pet or two, and you’re on your way. So how can you make it to the other side without going crazy? Here are a few tips for PCSing with kids.
Build Up to the Adventure!
It’s all about the hype! Moving can be scary, weird, or even sad for kids. Some kids enjoy the thrill, but for some, it might not be their favorite. For your young ones building up to the big day is so important. Find your new home on a map, talk about the trip along the way, ask them what they want to do and see on the way there. And whether you are doing a full military move, DITY, or partial, involving the kids in the process sometimes helps to make them feel more in control of what is happening. There are so many fun things you can do to make it easier for kids. Things like decorating their own boxes might seem small and insignificant, but seeing those come off the truck at your new home can be a small thrill.
Take Your Time!
There are still some days that I think back and wish we would have taken longer. We saw places and did things we may not get the chance to do again. If you are in any way able to take the time, do it. A wise mil spouse I know said, “The vacation is along the way. It’s not the final destination.” When I asked this question of military spouses on social media, this advice was one of the top responses. We have a beautiful country, stop and see it! Our National Parks are there to explore all over and are usually free or very inexpensive.
Enjoy the Ride!
How you do this is up to you. On our last move, we moved across the country, and I spent almost more time planning how we would survive so many days in the car than I did planning the actual move. Movies and technology might work for a good portion of the time, but if you’ve got seven states to drive through you will need more in your arsenal. Pinterest has printable car bingo games. Choose small toys, new coloring books and reading books that you pull out just for the trip. Older kids might like to see how many different state’s license plates they can check off. It’s not every day you get a captive audience for this long. Use it for singing, laughing and talking. Eat fast food, find funky hotel rooms and neat little towns that boast things like the world’s largest ball of yarn. You never know what you might find out there until you go looking for it.
Get a REALTOR®!
If you’re not living on base getting yourself a Realtor® is a wise option. Realtors aren’t just for the home buying military family either. Realtors can help with renting homes as well. They can help you to get to know the area around you and give you school information while helping to find a neighborhood the fits your needs. Your realtor will know the “family-friendly” neighborhoods and may even be able to introduce to other families with kids the same age as yours. Check out realtor reviews written by fellow mil-families at PCSgrades,com .
Don’t be shy, step up and ask! Odds are someone you know has either done the move you are preparing for or knows someone who has. Get tips on places to stay along the way, and how they made it through their road-trip. Fellow mil-spouse and mom, JD from Semi-Delicate Balance has an amazing PCS Activity Book for kids on her blog. Check out Pinterest and the PCSgrades Blog. And once you take the trip yourself, and are moved into your new neighborhood, tell your story on PCSgrades.com. The more we share, the easier the journey becomes.
A PCS can be an exciting time, but it can also be a stressful time, especially when PCSing with kids. And while not everyone in the family will be thrilled about the move, it is important to stick together when times get rough. Military families have been PCSing for decades. We are experienced at this, so use the wealth of knowledge and great resources like PCSgrades.com that are around you.
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Rheanna Christine is a stay at home Mom to three children. She has been featured in Military Spouse Magazine, USA Today, and National Guard and Reserve Magazine. In 2016, she co-founded with the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), and launched SpouseTalks, an interactive forum targeted to all branches of the Guard and Reserves.