Congratulations! Despite the challenges that come with PCSing and finding employment, you did it. I know the feeling of security and financial stability that comes with job continuity between moves.
But I also know the overwhelming reality of trying to do it all – a new duty station and a new job – and how that can make you feel isolated and stressed. Before you realize it, that euphoria fades away and is replaced with feelings of fear and inadequacy.
Don’t let this happen to you! You CAN handle both a new duty station and a new job. It takes some planning and flexibility, but it can be done. Here are a few things to try and tips to help you stay sane and organized.
Before You Move
Think before you pack: For you first day of work, you will need more than just your W-2 or your onboarding dates. Think about the clothes you will need for your work environment or the documents you should hand carry in your move. Will you need your own technology or parts of your home office? Set aside these things and bring them yourself. There is nothing worse than scrambling for work essentials in a brand new place.
Plan ahead as much as possible: Will you need childcare? Get on the waiting list for your base CDC or local childcare options. Can you delay your start date at your new job to give you some adjustment time? Ask early and explain your situation. Think of where your hotel or temporary lodging will be in relation to your new job, and plan accordingly for schools, childcare, commuting, etc.
Get to know your new community: Join Facebook groups for your new duty station, and ask questions! These people are already there and can refer you to places you might need, answer your questions, and help you find a friend or two before you even arrive.
At Your New Duty Station
Set up a routine: I know – why set up a routine when your situation is temporary? Because it will help you adjust to your new location and job. It will establish normalcy for your entire family and keep you on track to continue your routine (even if it changes a bit) once you are settled in your home.
Be transparent with your employer: He or she probably knows that you are a military spouse and new to the area, but make sure to communicate with them about your in-processing to the area. By establishing this early on, they will not be surprised by your requests for time off for movers or appointments; they will also appreciate your open communication in the future.
Ask for help: Take advantage of resources and the community around you. Military OneSource offers information on childcare programs and reduced-fee programs for all military families here. Head over to your Family Readiness Center (or equivalent center on your installation) to find local resources to help you transition to your area. Finally, reach out to your new neighbors or friends for support, and do not let your pride get in the way of accepting that help. Everyone is new to a duty station at one point, and everyone needs a hand. You can pay it forward to another new family someday.
My last piece of advice–as a longtime military spouse, frequent PCSer, and job seeker–is to give yourself some grace.
There will be days where your schedule is completely off. You will forget things. Some days will be long and chaotic, and balancing everyone’s schedules and duties on top of your new job will be tough. But just as the military has an in-processing time for your service member, you should give yourself one and know that life is not going to be perfect. Give yourself some grace and patience and soon enough, you will be back into the swing of things. If you find things particularly challenging, talk to your employer or to a mental health professional to take care of you, too.
You CAN handle it all. With planning and patience, you can continue to pursue your own career goals and support your family as you transition into your new duty station and home. Hopefully, these tips will provide you with a bit of guidance to get your started!
Rachel Carpenter is the co-owner and editor of The Military Mom Collective. She has been an Air Force spouse for 18 years and is a mother of four children. She holds a BA in English and a MA in Management. When not busy with work or her family, she enjoys reading as many books as possible and drinking all of the coffee.
Rachel is also the editor at AMSE, the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs, and a freelance writer. She has been featured on We Are The Mighty, Her View From Home, AMSE, Hand-in-Hand QC, and other publications. She has been writing for over 10 years and loves staying connected with the military community. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.