“Hurry up and wait.”
Every military spouse is at least familiar with this phrase. The majority of us have actually lived it more than once. Between deployments, short-duty assignments, and PCS moves, it constantly feels as though the military keeps hurrying us and our families through another long (and often daunting) waiting period. When you feel like one is over, another begins. I like to refer to these periods as being “in limbo” because it feels as though everything that is nonessential to our everyday routine and survival gets put on hold in lieu of the military’s impending plans for us.
Case in point: my husband’s unit is on the verge of total shutdown due to the upcoming retirement of the aircraft that he works on. With PCS orders being expected to drop any day now, our family is once again officially “in limbo.’”That’s right folks – hurry up and wait, we (might) ride at dawn!
It can be hard to figure out what to do during these periods because everything feels like it is at a standstill. Believe me, I’ve had a difficult time navigating my own limbo this time because of how unusual these circumstances are. I mean, it isn’t everyday we are being forced to move because of a unit shutdown after all, and my ability to adapt to waiting is hindered by my impatience and need to be in control. However, I have figured out some ways to use this time to my advantage. Here is what I am doing, or giving myself permission to do, during limbo:
1: Gather all the important documents.
You don’t need to wait until you are neck-deep in moving boxes to get your important paperwork in order. Once I knew our time was almost up at our current station, I immediately went and made sure we had all of our important documents in one place so that I wouldn’t have to worry later. I use an expanding file folder to store my family’s most important documents – our marriage certificate, birth certificates, social security cards, passports, copies of orders (when we receive them!), etc. If you are missing a copy of any of these, use this time to order new copies of whatever you need to ensure a smooth transition at your new station.
Now is the time to go through all your old clothes, decor, kids’ toys, and anything you may not have unpacked during your last move to determine what you can’t live without. Think Marie Kondo, PCS style (or deployment style if you’re into doing home makeovers while your spouse is away). I have started donating all of my unwanted items to my local Airman’s Attic, as well as to local churches and clothing drop boxes. You can also have a yard sale, if you have the patience for that sort of thing.
3: Continue with life as usual.
I find that keeping my routine keeps me grounded during this time. If you are working, or you and/or your children are in extracurriculars such as sports, dance, gymnastics, etc., then you should continue to engage in these activities at least until you have orders. That way you can enjoy the time you have left at your current duty station without feeling uprooted. However:
4: It is also okay to put some things on hold.
I have decided not to start anything new during this time because of the unpredictability of our situation. I just recently finished part of my college degree, and I have decided to hold off on starting the next phase of my education until I know where we are going. That way, I am not stuck in a PCS move in the middle of a semester, which would be VERY stressful. Give yourself permission to thrive in your current routine during this time, but also permission to breathe and not feel like you have to be doing all of the things. Use this time to your advantage, and plan your next big move so that you’re prepared to execute your plan when you get settled at your new station.