By Katie Foley, Military Spouse

“We got orders.” It’s every military member’s or spouse’s favorite sentence. These three words have the power to change the world, or at least the world we live in.

My little family and I (we call ourselves “The Foley Fireteam”) PCS’d last April. It was a joyous occasion. It was so joyous that I am STILL dealing with the fallout from the change in schools, lost immunization records, lapse in medical care, and the lost screws to half of my furniture. In fact, it was so very joyous that we’re doing it again next month!

5 Ways to Beat PCS Jitters

That’s right, we got orders… again. I was so overjoyed that I went out and bought a bottle box of wine and asked the barista at Starbucks to punch me in the face.

Tonight I felt so much joy that I clutched my chest and sank into my bathroom floor, gasping for air and wondering when my lungs stopped allowing me to breathe. Tonight, the PCS jitters finally gave me an asthma attack.

As I sat on my floor, clinging desperately to my inhaler, I contemplated all of my previous PCS’s and the things I normally do to help with the PCS jitters; the things that you can do to help you avoid the jitters as well, provided you’ve more than two weeks to get everything done.

1.       Get rid of stuff

This is the first thing I do when I know we’re PCS’ing. It isn’t necessarily that we need to cull stuff (although it never hurts to lighten the load and avoid hitting the weight allowance), but rather the simple act of throwing things away makes me feel accomplished, like I’ve really got a handle on things. It’s really just a sneaky way for me to psych myself up. I don’t really have a handle on everything, but I feel like it, and my garage thanks me!

2.       Talk to the doctors/nurses/keepers of the files/receptionists ahead of time

The ONLY medical care continuation issues we DID NOT have with this most recent PCS were with my kids general care because I personally spoke with their pediatrician and the entire nursing staff at our last appointment. Fortunately for us, we’re going from one military installation to another military installation, so having our records transferred is unnecessary. But in the case of MTF (Military Treatment Facility) to non-MTF (or vice versa) talk to anyone and everyone and ask for copies of everything. Then, talk to them again for good measure.

3.       Don’t let the landlord bully you

I confess, this one is a HUGE deal for me. Whether you’re leaving a civilian run property or you’re leaving base housing, sometimes the “landlord” is a downright bully. You don’t have to stand for it, and you shouldn’t let him/her/they do it. Check your state laws and your rental agreement regarding military release clauses, and don’t let them charge you for normal wear and tear in your home (and remember that nearly every state requires carpet to be replaced every 5 years, or less in some states, so if it wasn’t brand new when you moved in, it’s probably time!)

4.       Hold your child’s school accountable

Part of today’s asthma attack can be blamed largely on my kids’ last school. This is a school that I loved (and still desperately love). They were and are amazing, and the things that my children were able to overcome because of their love and guidance will never be forgotten. My daughter experienced one of the most traumatic events a child could face (an assault at the hands of a group at a neighboring school that she attended at the time) and this school took her in and loved her right into healing and I will forever be indebted to what the people there did for her, for us.

I saw my son come out of his locked-up-tight little shell, terrified and shy and nervous, and become a boy who came home from school a few days ago with the ecstatic news that he made a friend at school (no news on the boy’s name, yet, he’s still trying to work up the nerve to ask him in between recesses). What the school did for us can never be re-payed.

But what they didn’t do was send their school records to the new school; after two months and multiple requests through multiple channels. After an entire quarter of school, I finally got someone on the phone who said “I’m sorry Mrs. Foley, we were never asked to send records to anyone.” *It should be noted here that I slammed my phone down on the wrought iron bench I was sitting on and screamed at my coffee, and then I returned to the phone to tell her that I’d called several times in the last 8 weeks, the new school had faxed, called, and emailed, and then I asked her which direction they check for the bat signal just to make sure she hadn’t missed it.

If you want to avoid the jitters, get the school stuff taken care of right away, and stay on top of them to make sure they do their part. You can love a school to pieces, but if they don’t forward on your kids’ records, they’re useless to your kids.

5.       Dance it out

I am an avid student of the great Meredith Grey. That girl dances everything out. New job? Dance it out. Just found out your one night stand is your boss? Dance it out. He’s married? Dance it out. Ten years of questionable life choices, traumatic life experiences and awful interns? Dance. It. Out. If dancing it out is good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.

PCS’ing is nothing when you can just dance it out. Or sing it out, run it out or any of those things that you normally do during your regular life to relieve stress. Don’t let the PCS move rob you of that release. Making the time to reduce your stress is a sure-fire way to lessen the many jitters that come along with yet another announcement that “We got orders.”

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Happy PCSing!