A transition can be difficult, regardless of the number of times you have already experienced it. Moving, for example, is a transition that is quite synonymous with the military. Those who serve in the military are fully aware that they will most likely have a lifetime of moves ahead of them. But does this knowledge make it any easier when the transition actually happens? Unfortunately, it doesn’t entirely.
With careful organization, loads of patience, and the blessing of time, there are ways to make your next PCS move less stressful for you and your family.
1. Plan ahead
While planning ahead may seem like common knowledge to most, many families still don’t actually start planning within an adequate time frame. There are many things you can do far in advance, which will ease the burden of moving.
Some suggestions for planning ahead:
- Make a few lists! Never underestimate the power of a list! What needs to be done 1 month in advance, 3 months, 1 week? Make a list of what needs to be done and during which time frame. Having tangible lists will help tackle a move more efficiently and effectively.
- Consciously plan to use all your groceries. A lot of food can be wasted during a PCS move, so be aware of the food you buy, a week or two in advance. Avoiding foods that you can’t move with you will ensure that you don’t waste money or time throwing away perfectly good food.
- Also consciously plan to consume your alcoholic beverages -responsibly of course. The movers won’t pack liquids, so you’ll have to either drink your wine and whisky collection in advance, or plan to carry a bunch of heavy boxes to and from the hotel room during your PCS journey.
- Keep an isolated place available for things you need during the move, such as clothing, toiletries cleaning supplies, and sentimental items. Having a separate place for these items will ensure that they won’t accidentally be packed first, or rather, will ensure that you can unpack them first!
2. Research the local area before you get there.
Of course on the top of your PCS list will be housing, jobs and local schools, but there are a lot of other things that will be helpful to note before you hit the road and relocate.
- Find childcare and/or pet care for your loved ones, because you never know when an emergency may occur. Start your research early and keep this information easily accessible so that you are prepared for any situation.
- Scope out local dentists, salons, mechanics, and other professionals. You will eventually need to save time after you arrive, and this research will make your future situation less hectic. Research and review websites or online referral sources to gather information on specialists in the area. You may even need to pay a visit to them shortly after your arrival, so why wait until you get there to find the best businesses suited for your needs?
- Locate special interests groups, hobby venues, and cool hangout spots. There is no doubt that moving is stressful, so knowing a place where your family will be able to take a break and decompress, or where you can meet people with like interests, will be invaluable. Knowing of a few places you want to go ahead of time will make your transition much simpler and save you from spending too much time cooped up in your half-unpacked home.
3. Realize that it’s okay to say no!
Often you’ll be invited to attend pre-departure parties, dinners, or farewells for you or someone else (especially if it’s PCS season). Although these events are heartwarming, it can be incredibly stressful if they takes place right before your move. Please realize that it’s okay (and quite understandable) if you must politely decline an invitation.
Most likely you won’t enjoy yourself during the event if you are ruminating on the hundreds of things waiting to be done at home. So, if this is the case for you, be honest about your time constraints, express your gratitude for being included, and respectfully decline.
Perhaps you can even attend for a short duration or reschedule for a light lunch, but don’t add to your stress by obligating yourself to too many commitments.
Despite the stress of a PCS, a new adventure always awaits at your next duty station! There are always new friends to be made, and new experiences to conquer. So, take a deep breath, relax, and prepare for your PCS as best as you can. You’ll get there one way or another.