Summer is nearly here, and many of us are anxiously planning summer vacations and cookouts with friends. We’re thinking about fun things to do with the kids once school is out and what projects we can get done with the nice weather. It’s the season to relax a little more, worry a little less, and simply enjoy life. But for many military families, this summer is filled with uncertainty, stress, and sadness. In the military, summer is PCS season and many families will be packing up once again.
An impending PCS is always stressful, not only because of all the packing, scheduling and worrying about what household goods will be damaged this time, but also because it means saying goodbye to a place they’ve come to call home and friends who have become family. And to top it all off, many times they are moving to a place that is unfamiliar and where they don’t know anyone.
As stressed out as I have gotten during my own family’s PCS experiences, there are a few things I’ve learned that help me get through it all. It will never be easy, and I cannot deny that I won’t completely lose it at times when we PCS again, but I can say that these things will certainly help make the transition a little easier.
Here are 5 Ways to Stay Sane During a PCS
- Think of it as an adventure. This requires a bit of perspective, but try considering the change as something fun that the family can experience together. Enlist the help of the kids when choosing a new place to live. Find a website about the area and search fun things to see and do. By stirring up excitement about the new place, it will make it a little easier to leave your current one.
- Do a partial DITY (do-it-yourself) move. This is the option my husband and I have chosen for all of our moves. It allows us the freedom of keeping some of our belongings behind and bringing them with us rather than having the packers take everything. Hold onto any items that cannot be replaced such as photos, family heirlooms, cards/notes from loved ones, etc. as well as anything that you will absolutely need between the time everything else gets packed and the time it arrives on your new doorstep. This method allows you the reduced stress of not having to pack up everything yourself, but knowing that the most important items will be safe.
- Be open to new friends. This is the hardest one for me. It’s not that I don’t like people, it’s just that I am very introverted and find it difficult to make new friends. If I don’t click with someone right away, it feels like a lot of work to form a relationship. That said, I have made some very close, amazing friends at each of our duty stations, friends that I was sad to leave when the time came. I remember this every time I worry about moving and having to make new friends; even though I am leaving great people behind, I know there are equally great people who are just waiting to meet me at the new place. It’s tough, and sometimes it takes a while. But once you find each other, the wait will have been worth it!
- Put a lot of thought into your home. Whether you choose to live on-base or off, take the time to really consider the homes you are looking at and what fits your family best. If possible, take house-hunting leave so that you can visit the new location and scope out possible rentals/home purchases. The last time we were in the market to rent, we looked at several houses that literally made me sick to my stomach. They were either in terrible condition or in terrible neighborhoods. But we kept looking and eventually found something that was perfect for us. I knew we needed a place where we could feel safe and comfortable as a family, and finding that made the transition to our new place much easier.
- Keep the faith. The greatest motivator for me with a move has by far been my faith. When tough decisions need to be made or I feel like it is all an endless highway of frustration, I remind myself that it is all part of a greater plan and things will eventually work. In a lifestyle that is filled with such uncertainty, faith is the only thing that keeps me level-headed. When I look back on my ten years as a military wife, I can see that all of my worries, challenges, and unknowns have been calmed by placing them in God’s hands.
What PCS tips have helped you stay sane? Share them with us in the comment below!