For this PCS, our children were in the room when hubby handed me the gift bag with the orders folded inside. However this has not always been the case.
When we received the surprise orders sending us to Alaska, we chose to tell the kids in a gentle way because we knew how hard the move was going to be. It was a hard pill for us to swallow, and I gave full vent about my broken heart.
[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”2206″ align=”center” size=”large” caption=”In North Carolina 2007″ autoHeight=”true”]
Sometimes the military gives you orders that you didn’t ask for and weren’t looking for. In those moments, you have to look past your own hurts and help the kids cope. Military children are often referred to as ‘brats’, but I am telling you that statistics show that an unstable home life wreaks havoc on a child’s emotional state. My husband can tell you from first hand experience (as most military kids can) that moving around every few years is hard! My FIL was enlisted and was able to stabilize his family for a longer period of time. We have not had that pleasure with our crew.
[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”2207″ align=”center” size=”large” caption=”In Maryland 2011″]
This time, the kids were excited! Well, most of the kids. My oldest child has never handled change well. Even during family vacations, he just got a little grumpy when he was out of his ‘norm’. Danny got grumpy immediately and demanded to know why we had to move AGAIN!
There are a few tips when handling the emotional outbreaks over a PCS move:
When a military move is unexpected, I would highly recommend not telling the kids until the adults are unified about the move. A soldier has to go where he is commanded. The spouse will sometimes need time to adjust to the change. If there is sadness or anger about the new duty location, then wait until it passes before springing it on the kids. An emotionally charged, angry announcement will not be a comfort to the kids. Change is hard enough to deal with when there is fear involved!
We chose to gently remind our oldest son that he once hated the idea of moving to Alaska. He was in a blue funk for a couple weeks over that bit of news. Now he loves it here in Alaska and doesn’t want to leave. We asked him a series of questions about why he didn’t want to leave and offered assurances that this was going to be a great duty location. By the end of the next day, he was as excited as the rest of us!
It can often take a little bit of time to adjust to the idea of a new duty station. Especially if the military family has really put down roots in the current location! It can take some time for the spouse and kids to wrap their minds around another move. For the military family as PCS means having to make new friends, having to get settled in to a new house, having to adjust to a new school, sometimes having to adjust to a new weather climate or time zone. These are all major changes and they take adjustment. Don’t rush it!
On the flip side, it shouldn’t take forever. Don’t allow yourselves or your kids to focus on the negative and stay there. Each new duty station affords new experiences and new excursions! This crazy thing called the military life will be miserable if you focus on how hard it is and how miserable it is to move. My oldest son struggles with being negative. He would happily be our little black rain cloud if I let him. I don’t believe that is healthy, so I don’t allow him to remain that-a-way!
[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”2211″ align=”center” size=”large” caption=”In the Alaska snow 2012″]
The move to Alaska took me 72 hours of pouting and fit throwing to get over. I hit away in my 75 gallon jetted tub to throw a crying fit for those nights. I emerged from the froth with an excitement and a positive attitude. Alaska is a beautiful state and is the dream of many military members! It is hard to get up here. In fact, my FIL tried for his 20+ years and never made it this far. I chose to focus my attention and attitude on the sights and experiences that we would have once in the Last Frontier. And my excitement caught on.
Moms, you have a weighty responsibility here. The old adage is true “if mama aint happy, aint nobody happy”! Mama, your emotions do tend to drive the home ship, so if you can find some thing to be excited about, then talk that up and show it off! Either a nearby amusement park, or historic sites. Talk about the exciting experiences you plan on having and even get the kids involved with the dream planning!
Our move to South Carolina is unique in this respect. I am extremely excited to be so close to friends again, and the kids are too. This is a state we are familar with and that we enjoy! So the dream planning is as easy as pulling out old photos to show them where they were as youngsters and what they will be re-experiencing now. They even got onto their monitored emails and excitedly told their friends about the move! We have play dates and weekend visits already in the works. We even have a Christmas surprise cooking for the family that we are keeping hush-hush.
Don’t be surprised if there is a reverting during the move. I am talking about those moments of sadness that occur during the move due to leaving friends or the fear of the unknown new duty station. Remember to be patient and reassuring, to snuggle a bit more as a family and to take moments to do family things during this crazy PCS time frame! Watch for signs of introversion or withdrawal. You may even need to plan a date with just one child at a time to encourage them to talk about what they are feeling and encourage sharing. Be honest with them while offering them the positives that you can all look forward to.
[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”2213″ align=”center” size=”large” caption=”Alaskan Resurrection Bay Cruise 2012″]
This is part of a blogging series “Planning a Military Move“.