How to Make a Smoother Transition

April is the Month of the Military Child 

It’s Friday and the phone rings. You look at the caller ID, and it’s your husband.  The movers have just pulled out of your driveway with everything but the items your family needs for your cross-country move that begins on Monday.  You cheerfully answer the phone and your husband says, “I don’t want to worry you, Babe, BUT the car just went crazy.” Enter the dreaded stress and panic because you knew this PCS (permanent change of station) move was going far too easy!  You discuss the ever-increasing issues you’ve been experiencing with the vehicle you paid off months before. And after much prayer, the only true way to resolve this stressful situation is to trade it off and buy a new one. This is how my family’s recent PCS move from North Carolina to California began–a true, blue military move!

PCS moves are never easy, stress free, or without wrinkles. From the moment orders are in hand, to the hanging of the last picture in the new home, hundreds of fears, questions, and pressures have passed through every military spouse’s mind. 

And then, there are your children who are also involved in each move. How can we truly make each PCS move easier on them? I believe, as parents, we should place the needs of our children at the forefront of each decision we make, as best as possible.  When my husband received his orders, I made a list of questions that COULD be answered, and I checked each one off when completed.

 Education 

Education was first on the list.  Because the move took place in the middle of the school year, we chose to homeschool her for her fourth grade year. I did not return as a teacher to the private school my daughter had attended, and instead took on the role of a homeschool mother, solely responsible for her education and completely stress free, right?  No homeschooling mother has ever said that! We have fallen in love with this new adventure and have chosen to continue this form of education for the next three years.  Choose what’s best for your child and begin the enrollment process as soon as possible.

 

Sports and Activities  

Soccer is a huge part of our daughter’s life. I knew that although she would be required to make new friends through playing it, she at least would know the skill and be comfortable in her knowledge of the sport. Find those athletic groups or clubs that are offered for your child in your new town. If your child hasn’t fallen in love with a sport or activity yet, then let them experiment. Give them the opportunity to find something that’s theirs and that they love.

 

Playgroups 

If you’re a mom to a toddler or infant, check out those playgrounds that are all over base housing, or find a Mommy and Me Class or a MOPS (Mother’s of Preschoolers) offered at many community recreation centers, churches, or YMCAs in your area.

 

Social Networking 

Use Facebook to find groups that mirror you child’s interests or needs. By connecting your child, you are connecting you and your family. Making friends with families that share similar interests will help everyone transition more quickly to a new town.

 

Because I have been a civilian wife and am now I’m a military wife, I can say first-hand that military families are asked to sacrifice so much.  A PCS move is just one of the many we are asked to make.  So be patient with yourself, your spouse and your child because you are the family’s greatest ally. Look for the humor in everything, because it’s there! Laugh at those little frustrations, like the fact that the title to the car we traded off was on the moving truck or the missing crockpot was in a garage box packed with my hummingbird feeder and garden gloves.

I like the quote by Mother Teresa;  she said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be less because of the missing drop.” What we do as military wives and mothers isn’t invisible or unnecessary–it’s irreplaceable. •

Sara Slater covers military-family related issues. Her husband serves as a Religious Program Specialist in the US Navy. Together they are raising their ten-year-old daughter.