by Rebecca Alwine
It’s the year of the PCS in our house. For us, and for approximately 1/3 of the military families out there.
Some have moved twice in the past year and are “professional” movers. Some are moving after a year, a
deployment, a separation, or a two-year stint. I’m hoping there are some families like us, who have been solidly in the same house for over four years. We’re settled, we’ve accumulated more stuff. As we view this next move, I wonder about all of the military families who have felt this way. I imagine that those facing their first move are similarly overwhelmed. And those National Guard or Reserve families who may be moving for an extended school or assignment are likely equally unnerved.
While it’s only been 4.5 years since our last move, it seems so very long. And there have been so many changes in the way things are done. Changes both in the military procedures regarding moves and in our family. As any military family can tell you, 4.5 years is a long time for anything. Without deployments or moves, it can almost make you complacent. It gives you a false sense of security. And, it gives you so much more time to accumulate stuff!
I’m sure none of us love every bit of our current home, but it is home nevertheless. The familiarity of light switches, creaky floorboards, and oddly shaped storage has become ours. We’ve hung family photos, painted walls, and rearranged furniture for years trying to find the perfect fit. And despite the small pantry, hard-to-keep-clean floors, and the sometimes-working garage door opener, it has a place in our heart. All of which make it incredibly challenging to find a new one.
We all have a list of things we want in our next house. Those things that are ‘non-negotiable’ when we start our search and quickly become ‘nice if it has it’ before too long. At some point we reach the ‘we just need a place to live’ stage and we start thinking about downsizing a bedroom to live on the installation, or sacrificing the two-car garage for a guest room. In the back of our minds, we know that this isn’t going to be the perfect home, and we will make it perfect for our family for right now and then try again in a few years. “Home is where the military sends us” is never truer than when we are moving into a new place and making the house into a home.
We’ve been here for half of my oldest child’s life. Half! It is so weird to think that when we leave, he’ll be
more than twice as old as when we came here. In his short life of only 9 years, he’s moved twice so far. While we’ve certainly lived here long enough for him to understand that the military means moving, he hasn’t experienced it himself yet. He’s said good-bye to friends, and hello to new ones. He’s even been able to welcome back friends who left and have since returned. But leaving a house that has been a home to my children for this many years is going to be hard. On all of us.
“Home is where the military sends us” is never truer than when we are moving into a new place and making the house into a home.
To help start the adjustment off on the right foot, we’ve already started talking about it. We’ve talked about the things we have to look forward to; our kids made lists of things they want to do at our next duty station; and we’ve started talking about how we will make new friends and find a new school. Making a new adventure seem exciting, and talking to our children on their level is a great way to ease us all into it.
When we moved to Arizona, we briefly looked at schools. We assumed we’d be here long enough for at least one child to start kindergarten. We didn’t realize we’d have that same child go through third grade
here. Schools are really important when deciding where to live. School liaisons are a great tool for all the questions we parents have regarding schools. There are so many changes regarding paperwork, immunization records, and districts.
The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children has certainly made the transfer for school-aged children easier, but it is far from seamless. This is one area in which I encourage everyone to start planning for at the very first thought of moving. There is nothing more important than our children and their education as we travel around the world.
Whether you are facing your first move or just your first move in several years, each one is a new experience. No two moves are ever the same — and there are so many additional things to consider each time. No matter what, be prepared, relax, and enjoy the ride!