We know how difficult moving, let alone frequent moves, can be. So, we asked our friend and past Tula model, Rina to share some tips for preparing and coping with a move while in the Military. Read on for her helpful tips:
Moving has its challenges, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. It is not uncommon to experience simultaneous feelings of heartbreak and exhilaration during a move. On the one hand, you're crestfallen because you have to leave both the house that had become your home and the friends who had become your family, but on the other hand, it becomes impossible for you to ignore the ensuing excitement of starting a new adventure with your family. So as I sit here surrounded by a sea of floor to ceiling boxes that have been stamped with the little blue inventory stickers symbolizing the culmination of our 10 month stay (and yet another move) allow me to share with you some of the tips and advice that have carried me through the last 14+ years of moving while in the military. Bear in mind that I’m also doing this as a reminder to myself of what’s to come:
Manage your expectations
Most of us don’t like change—at least not any change that we aren’t in control of. That’s why when we hear the word “orders”, within seconds our minds immediately run through best-case scenarios to the absolute worst before our service member can even finish his/her sentence to let us know where we’re heading next. Whether it’s your perfect dream location or a curveball location that sends your family to the armpit of your given branch of service, try to keep an open mind. The bottom line is that you have a choice to go into your next move with either hopeful charisma or with a despairing dark cloud that chases you into an inevitable destination of misery. Remember that your experience will be what you make it. So wherever your family is stationed next, manage your expectations accordingly.
I consider this one of the many benefits of moving so often. This is the perfect opportunity to go through your entire house and decide on what is going and what can be trashed, donated, or sold. One of the rules I adopted is if we haven’t used an item in this current duty station, it’s not coming to the next one with us. The only exception to this rule would be if you’re moving back from a location like Hawaii or Okinawa and your winter gear has been in storage—don’t get rid of those!
Connect with your fellow military spouse networks and Oracle
There’s practically a Facebook group for every topic and every duty station out there; join a group and stay connected. There’s also a chance that if you’ve been around the military for a few years, some of the friends you’ve made may have also made their way around the world a time or two so get with them for insight about your new destination. This leads me to my last piece of advice…
Make every house your home and every destination an adventure
Whether your service member gets 12-month or 36-month orders, make your new duty station your home. I encourage you to decorate your new house and add whatever touches that will make it feel cozy to you. Also, go beyond the four walls of your base and get to know your surroundings. I recommend dedicating the first few weekends to exploring the town. Create a bucket list with your kids of things you want to do while at that duty station and conquer them one by one. Get your family excited and involved in the new community so that they feel safe and comfortable too. I also like the idea of starting a new tradition early on as a family and taking it with you wherever you go so that no matter where you land in the future it will always feel like home.
Ultimately, moving while in the military is inevitable but just remember that you’re not alone. Once settled into your new place, take a minute to look back at how you’ve not only survived but thrived through yet another PCS season and be proud of yourself!