Although no military family is the same as another, there is one thing most military families have in common: the ongoing challenges presented by the Permanent Change of Station (PCS). To civilians, this is the frequent moves that are sometimes described by those who lived through them as the lifestyle of the “military brat.” Moving is inevitable for military families, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a hurdle for your family from an emotional standpoint.
It can be hard to consider a new house a home until it is broken in and filled with family memorabilia. In this blog, we want to offer military families tips on how to make each house feel more like home right away, filled with love.
Before you go
Try to plan for your move in a way that helps your family feel as comfortable as possible. Give them ample time to say goodbye to their friends and family members, and encourage them to trade contact information. If they don’t have address books or those kinds of resources and they’re old enough to, help them start those habits.
Make your children part of the sorting, separating, organizing, and packing process that leads up to your move. Although moving is always a great time to get rid of what is no longer needed, don’t throw a power play over getting rid of an old, particularly precious toy or stuffed animal. Wait and avoid that conflict for now.
Make sure the whole family understands what’s going on with the move. Explain in detail where the new post is, how the move will go, where you’ll live when you get there, and as many details about the new location as you can get.
During the move
No matter how many times you do it, moving is stressful—and this goes double for your family! However, kids in particular benefit from having a stake in moving day. This means it pays to assign a task to each child for moving day—or, better still, to ask each child which role they’d like to play and make certain they do that. Include every family member in the game plan, letting each person know they are a valuable member of the team who is needed for the day to go well.
In the new house
Being in a new house can feel like being an occupying force in a strange land until you get used to it. When you get into the new place, a few confident steps in the right direction can put the whole family at ease:
- Let your children choose how to decorate and arrange their new room.
- Look for furnishings and decorative elements that appeal to your sense of style but don’t break the budget; rental furniture and even style and accent items is ideal for a family on the go and helps you quickly turn an empty house into a cozy home.
- A coat of paint is a relatively easy way to give a room a different look and some personality.
- Help your children hang photos of their friends and family members in their rooms along with posters of their favorite bands, teams, and movies to create a comfortable feel right away.
- Hang family photos in the hallway and shared spaces—and do this as one of your first tasks.
- Explore and investigate your new neighborhood with your kids; find interesting looking places to visit and things to do that might be fun.
- Make use of online resources like the Military Child Education Coalition website as you transition into your new town.
- Cook a familiar meal as soon as the dishes and pots are unpacked.
- Look for the neighborhood park, after-school activities, and other places for your kids to meet new friends that have some of the same interests.
- Help your children get the new address down cold right when you get into the new home.
Moving ahead together
As you settle in, get a look and feel you all love by working on your new home together. Whether you’re all seasoned pros with the PCS by now or gearing up for your first time, doing it as a family really does make it easier.