Moving is stressful for anyone, but especially so for children.
PCS is a huge change, whether it’s the first or the fifth.
PCS=Permanent Change of Station, even though it seems temporary – usually only 2-4 years!
According to the DOD, the average military child moves 6 to 9 times between kindergarten and high school graduation.
Military families relocate 10 times more often than civilian families – on average, every 2 to 4 years.
That’s a roller-coaster!
Moving is more stressful than divorce.
Think about that.
How can we make the moving transition easier on our kids?
As soon as you know a PCS is coming up, start preparing the kids for the transition.
Talk about it, explain that you’ll have to pack up everything you own and move to a new home.
Even though it could take a few more months to receive actual orders, it’s important to start the conversation so that kids can prepare their hearts and minds for the changes.
Discuss purging items and having a yard sale. I have a PCS checklist you can download!
Start reading about moving. Show your child what to expect.
Learn about your new location as soon as you know where you’re going. Research the area, school opportunities, activities, church, day trip ideas.
It’s exciting to move to a new town and explore all it has to offer!
There’s an app from Sesame Street: The Big Moving Adventure, available from iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play. I have a book list at the end of the post for you!
Pay attention to your kids’ needs. Listen to their complaints and concerns.
Moving is never easy and it might be very difficult for kids to leave their friends, school, activities.
Babies and toddlers have a hard time understanding. Teens might rebel.
Try to handle disappoint well. If you’re upset about where you’re going, the kids will internalize that and have bad feelings about their new locale – and you’re stuck with it for a few years!
Every location has benefits. We’ve PCSed to some places not on our list and we made the best of it.
We also knew people who hated living in Hawaii and Germany, so there’s that.
Prayer does wonders!
Have a farewell party to say goodbyes.
Give your child a job to do during packing out and moving in so they feel like a valuable part of the process.
Do something silly and fun like having a pizza picnic on the empty floor after packing out, or sleeping on an air mattress the last night. You can repeat this on the other end!
Let your child pack a few treasures for comfort during travel.
Try to stay at cool hotels if possible during travel to your new location.
Start out at the new location with new traditions.
Let your child choose something for his or her new room, within reason and budget – new bedding, a paint color for an accent wall, a collectible, a new rug or picture.
Keep in Touch
With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with friends from around the world.
Make it easy with your children and their friends with social media or free email accounts. There’s Skype and Facetime too.
I know some families who even plan vacations back to visit friends or somewhere in between to meet every year.
It’s an added stress to have little ones underfoot during packing out and moving. Enlist a trusted teen or adult friend to help keep little kids occupied in the backyard, with a video in a corner, or even taking them out to get ice cream or to the park. This gives them a break from the tediousness of packing and protects them from getting in the way. Then you get to focus on the task at hand.
Put aside big changes during a move. Don’t potty-train or wean babies during this stressful time. Schedules go out the window.
Get Kids Settled ASAP
Get kids’ rooms back in order as soon as possible to make the transition easier on them. Familiar blankets and toys will help them feel comfortable in a new home.
Then work on the kitchen and common spaces – with the necessary items you need immediately.
Find fun new places to explore and meet new friends! Let your child lead you in her time. We have a couple very social, outgoing kids and two who are more reserved and quiet.