DoD Updates: 

There have been a lot of questions about the 7-Day Spread window and how that works. Follow this link to understand more. When you put your requested pickup date into, your requested date begins Day 1 of the 7-day window. You will know your pick-up date ahead of time, and should be contacted by your TSP within 3 days of filing your initial request.

Inconvenience Claims: You are authorized this claim if your TSP misses your RDD due to situations beyond their control. It begins the day after your RDD, but you need to contact your Move Coordinator for details. They will cover certain purchases, but it will be the basic store-brand quality items, not anything extra. 

How do you explain the move to kids?

When you tell children depends how they handle change. Many families start talking about the move when they know about it. Some people wait until they have hard copy orders, but others let them know the process is coming up next year, even before you know exactly where you are going.

Make sure you explain to the kids that their things aren’t being packed up forever. They are just being safely transferred to the next house. Get the kids involved in the moving process. They can help pack stuffed animals. Many movers will set up a special box for them to throw soft toys in, and you can use colored tape or labels to help set that box apart so they recognize “their” box when it comes off the truck.

Some kids struggle with moving. How can we get them more excited about it?

Try to talk about their room in general terms, even if you don’t know exactly what house you will be in. Ask them what colors, decor, or theme they want in their next room. This lets them know they will have their own space to be in and retreat to. Take them to a store like Target or Hobby Lobby for inspiration, but don’t buy anything now. Wait until after the move so you can measure walls and know the specifics. 

Start looking for things that make the local things that make the area special. Find hidden gems related to history, science centers, swimming, beach, daytrips, etc. This helps them realize the next place may be fun and gives them something to look forward to.

How do you make the road trip better?

It all depends on the kids’ ages. Older kids can use books or a tablet to stay occupied. Younger kids need more activities to distract them. Some parents get activity books with school work so they aren’t missing out on school assignments. You can go to the Dollar Tree and pick out some coloring activity books or new toys. Pack a backpack that sits next to them and they can pull out their favorite car, doll, toy when they need to. 

You can bring a small baking sheet that is magnetic and bring alphabet magnets or printed handouts to give them something safe to play with and move around in the car. 

Naps are important! It’s good to put toys and electronics away at a certain part of the day and relax or decompress. Tell them it’s “Quiet time.” They may fall asleep, they may not. 

What are your tips for flying with kids?

It’s always a struggle since baggage is limited. Sometimes a small activity pack is helpful because it is compact. You can pull out a new one now and then if they need something different. If they have tablets, you can download different reading and math apps so they can do something educational. They can use some of the apps from school if they still have their login info, so try to incorporate learning and entertainment. 

Let’s talk snacks when traveling with kids.

It’s good for each child to have their own snack bag per day. Use a gallon-sized Ziploc with different snacks in it. We tell them when we will stop for lunch and dinner. But each kids has their own, so when they get hungry they can grab their own without bugging you. You can also get a tackle box with individual compartments so you can put smaller snacks in there for kids who struggle with opening bags. It acts like a little tray for them so they don’t drop as much.

What is a hotel go-bag?

It’s a huge struggle to unpack the entire car for just one night at a hotel. That’s a lot to lug up the stairs or elevator. Instead of everyone packing their own suitcase, we pack one bag or suitcase per night, and each bag has the change of clothes, the pj’s, and the toiletries for everyone one day. So it’s just one bag for the whole family, rather than 5 suitcases at once. 

If you are worried about car break-ins at the hotel when you are parked overnight, remember to always keep your insurance active throughout your move! Don’t cancel it!

If you are moving with valuables, you can take smaller quantities into the hotel with you. Don’t try to be a cheapskate on hotels during your travels. If you stay at nicer well-known hotel chains and park your car near a security camera or in well-lit areas, then it is safer and you are more likely to get footage. Mother Daughter LLC is one of our former guests who helps you plan your trip and get good rates at reputable hotels. Extra safety measures go a long way towards peace of mind.

How can we turn the PCS road trip into a vacation?

It all depends on your report date and how much travel time you have. Lots of families want to make the PCS trip fun, and it’s a good way to use up some of those use-or-lose leave days. If you have the means to do it, it’s a great idea! If you are going across the country, take a few days to relax and do something fun while crossing some of the states along your route. Some people visit the Grand Canyon, stop at Disney, go to an amusement park, or stay at Great Wolf Lodge. It helps break up the trip and gives the kids something to look forward to. You can stagger a long driving day with a relaxing fun day. Remember that active duty service members get free entrance into National Parks, and there are military discounts at Sea World, Busch Gardens, Six Flags, and of course Disney.

You have to look at how you are planning your trip because there can be issues with your PCS entitlements and expenses. There is a lodging reimbursement, but it has a cap per day, so if you are paying premium rates to stay at a resort, it won’t all be covered. The service member is allotted a certain number of travel days, so going above those days you will be paying out of pocket. Help your kids to view moving as an adventure!

The PCS isn’t quite over when you arrive. How do you help kids settle in?

Part of the transition is making them comfortable in the new home. Let them know it is their home and their space. Find local places, parks, restaurants to explore together. Talk to your child’s teachers and counselors to explain the military transition, especially if you aren’t moving to a predominantly military area. Help kids find the good in the new location and find their own comfortable space in their room. If they are involved in sports or hobbies, help them transition into a new team. Contact coaches by researching ahead of time. Be involved with your child and keep trying to make it fun for them to help take off the stress from them. 

What should you do if you arrive at the very beginning of the school year?

Reach out to the school ahead of time. There is usually a packet to fill out ahead of time that you can download from the school website. If your kids will change classes during the day, request a tour from a teacher or older student so they will know where to go on Day 1. Reach out to the school as soon as you have an idea of your address, even before you finalize housing paperwork, so you can get things moving and help your kids be prepared.

Double check the dates of the school year and the number of days required especially if you are moving near the beginning or end of the school year. They may need to attend school while you are in temporary housing. Don’t feel pressured to meet every single parent, especially if you are in temporary housing and they will go to a different school once you are in permanent housing. Check your local state for the regulations, especially since things may be impacted by the 2-week quarantine requirements. Since many schools are doing virtual learning, they may be able to set your kids up as students even while you are in quarantine. 

If you have a high schooler, start communicating with the next school district BEFORE you move so you can discuss graduation requirements and which credits they need or are missing. Contact the school liaison and start working on that transition as soon as you can. 

If you are homeschooling, make sure you send a letter of intent to the new school district, and become familiar with the regulations and laws of the new state. 

Thank you for helping us celebrate the Month of the Military Child!