By Carla Olivo, USMC Spouse
The summers when the Marine Corps moved us to a new duty station were the hardest on my kids. The last few weeks before a move are super hectic as you prepare to PCS, wrap up volunteer commitments and finish out the school year.
Then there is the actual move, the unpacking, figuring out where everything goes, learning about your new location. For kids, a PCS summer can put them in friend limbo, especially if you live off base. Your new neighbors may already be busy with summer camps and vacations. And kids without friends often end up B-O-R-E-D! (insert slow eye roll here!)
9 Ways to Hold Off Summer Boredom
I’ll admit after the intense emotions of a PCS (we rarely had a smooth one), I wasn’t ready or willing to entertain my kids. But short of locking them in their new rooms all day, I did come up with some ideas to keep them busy and keep the whining to a minimum. Here are 9 ways to hold off summer boredom and not hurt anyone in the process!
#1 Get Creative
Plant a garden, bake a cake, or do some crafts. Depending on the ages of your kids, you may be able to get them started on one of these projects and then let them go at it on their own. Or you can start your own DIY project and let them help. Check out Pinterest for ideas and let the kids pick out projects to decorate their new rooms.
#2 Stroll Around Your New Neighborhood
Unpack the kids’ bikes, skateboards or scooters and walk your neighborhood. Depending on where you are stationed, do this early in the day to avoid the summer heat. This is a great way to meet new neighbors if they haven’t skipped town yet for a vacation. This helps to burn energy for the kids and counts as exercise for the adults.
#3 Hit the Park
Again, this gets you all out of the house and away from the unpacking. This can be your destination on your daily walk. You don’t have to spend all day but an hour a day can make a world of difference to your kids that have been uprooted from everything they’ve known. This is also a good way to meet locals.
#4 Family Movie/Game Day or Night
This is a good one when you just need a break from all the boxes. Head out to a matinee showing in your local area. Often, movie theaters run special summer movies just for kids for free or a small admission price. Or you can find the box marked games and start a Monopoly marathon or a quick game like Skip Bo. My kids were not thrilled when I pulled out the board games. But once I got them started, I found they liked the challenge and usually continued playing even after I headed back to unpacking.
#5 Visit the Library
This was a must for my daughter. Even more so than checking out her new school, she wanted to see the new library. In addition to having them check out books they can take home and read, there are usually age appropriate events and activities hosted by the library staff.
#6 Find local Events and Festivals
Summer is the time for Farmer’s Markets, outdoor concerts, movies on the lawn and plenty of festivals. To help you figure out what’s going on in your area, check out the Out & About articles on the PCSgrades’ blog. Search “Out & About” or put a specific city/duty station in the search bar.
#7 Head to the Pool or Beach
This idea is more appropriate for when you are done unpacking. If your neighborhood has a community pool, this is an excellent way to meet people. If your new duty station is near the coast, a day at the beach clears the mind and is good for the soul.
#8 Day Trips
Anywhere you move, there are day trips to check out. If you go to the PCSgrades’ blog and search “Day Trips”, you will find some great suggestions for easy day trips near you. This is an easy way to learn about region you are stationed in.
#9 Let them be B-O-R-E-D
Sometimes it’s ok to have a little downtime. Let them do nothing! My kids never stayed bored for long. They would end up reading, playing games, or getting creative. Sometimes too creative. My then 4-year old son once thought it was very entertaining to toss from the second-floor hallway, the metal hanging bars from the empty wardrobe boxes down onto my hardwood foyer floor. He had run out of the plastic paratroopers I had bought just for this purpose.
So keep them busy, busy, busy to avoid damage, but more importantly to keep your sanity!
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PCSgrades Author: Carla Olivo, PCSgrades Strategic Communications Director, has two kids and managed to get through four PCSes without harming either of them. Before she married her Marine, she garnered numerous TV industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News and Documentary Reporting.