We spent 10 days in TLF before heading out for a weeklong roadtrip on our way to PCS to Germany.
Of course, the HVAC was broken in the TLF unit (temporary housing facility – like a furnished apartment). Our bedroom averaged somewhere in the 50s and the girls’ room was mostly in the low 80s. We had windows open in their room and Aaron and I slept in sweatshirts each night. That was an adventure.
We had to pack for an almost three-month-long journey from Utah to Georgia to Germany.
While being in tight quarters, living out of suitcases, and having no real schedule, we all have to make concessions for each other.
We learn some great life lessons during a military PCS.
5 Things I’ve Learned During PCS
1. How to Self-Entertain
Tori, Kate, and Alex discovered all on their own talking into a fan and making their voices sound funny. Picture below.
I love that they find fun in something harmless and simple and free.
When I warned them to be careful and make sure not to get hair, fingers, or anything else too close to the fan, they offered pained expressions that I would think them that foolish. But I’m a mom and have to mention such warnings. It’s my duty.
I love that the kids found fun new ways to entertain themselves. Boredom is often good, and sparks creativity.
We managed to cook most of our meals until the last pack-out day in our house.
We certainly didn’t want to eat out for ten days while in TLF. Our budget and health would not thank us for that.
Not having access to our cookware, pantry items, and vast spice collection put a damper on some of the meals I like to make. We made do with limited supplies and tools.
We brought some of our pantry items with us that were opened already and too good to throw out – like quinoa, flour, some spices, and sauces.
We celebrated our final days in Utah and at Hill AFB with a cookie cake:
We bought disposable aluminum pans and grilled meat at the nearby playground for dinners.
We had lots of quinoa or rice and steamed veggies and/or salads to go with the grilled meat.
My final dinner, I used up lots of supplies by roasting some chicken thighs and making some harvest wild rice and veggies:
We picnicked for lunches on our road trip except for the last couple days. That saved money and was healthier.
We enjoyed cooking for my parents and they appreciated it too!
3. Quiet Time is Necessary in Tight Spaces
My kids quit naps at the age of two (alas!), and I’ve never been successful with maintaining quiet times with four rambunctious kids. Usually, they play in another part of the house or outdoors in the afternoon while I work.
A couple of cold, rainy days had us irritable and annoying each other, so I had to institute a quiet time those afternoons when everyone had to lie on his or her bed and read, color, or do something silent.
Also, since Alex slept on the living room sofa bed, early risers had to tiptoe around and be super quiet in the morning until he woke up. One morning when he must’ve been super tired, I had to wait to grind and brew my coffee until 08:30!
We often hushed our kids from being too rambunctious since the walls in TLF are so thin. We didn’t want to bother any other residents with jumping around or excessive noise in the mornings or evenings.
4. Less is More
We are only able to have what fits in suitcases, and this posed several problems for me while packing.
We had to account for almost three months and several different climates. We can only carry so much and it had to fit into our Dodge Caravan. We’re allowed 2 suitcases each and 2 carryons each, but we can’t fit all that in the van or manage it in airports.
There were the ten days in TLF where it was chilly and dreary and not quite yet spring where we had to wear layers and be prepared for rain or even snow.
We had to have comfy car clothes for the weeklong road trip from Utah to Georgia. I had a tiny carryon suitcase with pajamas and a change of clothes for everyone that I brought into our hotels each night along with our toiletry bags to minimize unpacking and stress.
We had to have summer clothes for the humid, hot days in Alabama and Georgia. I only brought a few outfits for the couple weeks in the South.
When we arrived in Germany, we went back to wearing layers since it’s cooler there.
I allowed only 2-3 dresses each for the girls and myself and only a few pairs of shoes.
The kids each have a backpack with art supplies and small toys. And I brought two tote bags of school items since we’re not quite finished with our curriculum this year and this helps maintain a routine.
5. Courtesy is a Necessity
Being together constantly and in such tight quarters helped us work on relationship issues. We had to focus on being courteous with each other.
I worked on teaching the kids to not have a “Me First” attitude.
While in TLF, six of us had to share one bathroom with only a shower.
We had to stay quiet while others were working or sleeping.
The kids had to be more helpful than usual and clean the six plates and forks provided for our use – to be ready for each meal.
We had a system for climbing into and out of the van at rest stops during our roadtrip. The van was jampacked and the kids couldn’t stretch out at all.
We taught them not be greedy at the free hotel breakfasts, but to only take what they could and would consume. And we couldn’t really linger since we had to get on the road.
Tori and Kate have always shared a room, but they had to share a double bed at hotels and at their grandparents’ house. Alex and Liz normally have their own rooms and beds, but had to share a double bed too.
They had to share activity supplies – and sometimes snacks and drinks if we got low or ran out.