Creative dinners with the last remnants of your pantry (ramen and mustard surprise, anyone?), overseeing the movers, cramming a forgotten toy into the back of the minivan at the last minute, checking into temporary lodging, checking out of temporary lodging, a slight trip detour on your cross-country trip to visit that favorite aunt you probably won’t have a chance to see again for another few years, wrangling pets, wrangling kids…phew.
A military family move is exhausting!
And while “this too shall pass” certainly applies to a PCS move, experienced military spouses know that this upheaval can go on for weeks or even months when you consider how long you might be without your own belongings, especially if you’re moving overseas, taking concurrent leave, or find yourself waiting for your next home longer than you expected when you roll into your new base.
Because you’re worth it, and because you don’t get a badge for completely ignoring your own needs for week or months on end, let’s talk about some ways to take care of YOU during your next PCS move.
1) Keep a routine
One epic temporary lodging facility (TLF) scenario found our family of 6 (including an infant) in a one-bedroom TLF at the height of military move season, because that was all that was available. We simply couldn’t afford to secure better lodging off base at that point in our lives. When we set up the baby’s portable crib, the only spot it would fit was half in/half out of the closet. Bedtime featured two active boys on a pullout sofa, the toddler on a cot, the baby in her closet crib wedged against our bed…well, it didn’t have the makings for anything resembling our normal lives...and we laughed about it every night as we got all the kiddies ready for bed!
Military mamas, you’ve been there or have your own story of “icky TLF” (what my kids called it for years after–hmmm, where did they get that from?). In spite of the tiny space and lack of normalcy, it was important for our children–and my sanity–to keep as much of our regular routine as possible. Routines provide security for kids and sanity for parents. So we walked to the park every day like we’d always done, had meals at the same times with similar foods, and kept our bath time/book reading/quiet time routine before bed each night.
2) Take time for self-care
Self care? During a PCS move? Bwahaha, yes, I just heard you laugh. While the phrases “self-care” and “wellness” conjure up images of a relaxing spa day with Zen music tinkling in the background and sliced cucumbers over your eyes, this is likely not reality during a move (unless you can swing it–which by all means, go for it!). What does self-care mean for you? It may not look like propping your feet up on a lounge chair at the beach, but some ideas you can try:
- Switch off alone time with your spouse or use drop-in childcare for time to go to the gym or on a quick walk.
- Ask on the local Facebook page for hair or nail salon recommendations and try it out.
- Connect with a local spouses’ group to refill your tank if you’re the extroverted type.
- Explore a new library, cafe, or coffee shop all by yourself.
Whatever self-care looks like for you, try to carve out some time for it in the transition of a PCS. You deserve it!
You know the old saying, “comparison is the thief of joy.” If seeing your high school bestie’s or extended family’s social media posts about the lazy days of summer, family vacations, or ramping up for a new school year cause you to compare lives and come up short, then it may be time to stay off those apps for a while.
That’s stress you don’t need in the midst of a PCS. You can reconnect when your life settles back down!