Tick-Tock, tick-tock – time is counting down at your current duty station and you suddenly get the itch. You know, the “moving itch”, because it is about that time to get orders to PCS (Permanent Change of Station) again – in civilian terms that means moving. Emotions are running high for you and your family.
While the military is full of “hurry up and wait” opportunities, the most frustrating is waiting on orders. Is there anything else that can take your emotions from excitement to dread in a matter of a fleeting thought?
Which leads us to the fact that the military is full of unknowns. One of the most daunting is a new set of orders. You all the sudden get a sick feeling in your stomach. You look around the house and think…”I just got everything where I want it!”
Now you have to think about packing it all up again and that in itself is exhausting! Not to mention all the questions that come to mind! Just thinking about that makes me dizzy!
So let’s take a look at some tips to settle your anxiety and dizziness that getting new orders present.
An Emotional Ride
I have to admit that I actually love moving to new places and embracing the adventure – most of the time. It wasn’t that I did not like my current duty station, but I am somewhat of an adventurist. With that being said there were downsides too.
There are several stages of emotions when waiting for orders in anticipation of a PCS move.
I experience these stages even as a seasoned military wife!
To help you with these emotions it is important to understand, recognize, and embrace them as part of our crazy military life.
Imagining the Possibilities
You find yourself dreaming of wonderful locations that you could go. Europe? Japan? Maybe even closer to your family. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Or maybe a tropical paradise like Hawaii which would be A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, right? It would be like a permanent vacation and I’m all about that!
Getting stationed in Ft. Rucker, Alabama was not what I would call dreamy at all. It is in lower Alabama on the east side of the state which we affectionately nick-named LA! While the real LA (Los Angeles) has much more to offer, the LA I’m referring to did not. In fact, the most exciting landmark in the area was a Boweavil Monument in the neighboring town of Enterprise. Yes, a monument to an insect! Who would have thought?!
While we picture ourselves moving to one of these great places we still have to keep ourselves grounded. Not every duty station will be that dreamy place we’ve imagined.
Panic to See Everything
I know when we made a PCS move to Monterey, I thought we would have all the time in the world to explore and see everything. Then before we knew it a new set of orders came. I always say – “But, but I haven’t gotten to do this or gone to see that.”
It always seems as though time moves way too fast when life gets settled after a move. My husband and I constantly said we would go see this or that, but in reality, we were worn out by the time the weekend came along. So we didn’t always get around to seeing everything we wanted to at each duty station early on in our career. But we definitely got better with each move not putting things off.
This was especially true when we were stationed overseas. We took advantage of the opportunities to see all we could within our budget. Granted I didn’t get to see everything I wanted, but at least it was a start. It gave me something to put on my bucket list for retirement.
So don’t put things off. When you get your orders to your new duty station, make a bucket list of must-see and do things your family wants to do. Then make a point to put it on the refrigerator and mark them off as you explore the fun around you.
Worrying About the Unknown
The nerve-racking thoughts that accompany a PCS move: ‘What if we get stationed in the worst possible place?’ Do we have too much stuff? Will we go over our weight limit? What do I keep and get rid of? What if the moving company breaks our dining room table, AGAIN?
There are times I just can’t help but anticipate the worst it seems. Do you do that too? It must be in our military spouse genetics!
But duty stations are plentiful and getting new orders are always emotional. You hate to leave your “new” friends at your current duty station and the unknown of a new place is always daunting. As much as I try, each move raises my anxiety a little with those worrying thoughts.
As our family grew, I worried a little more about our weight limit, but my husband received promotions along the way and that helped too as our weight limit increased. So perspective is always a must when worrying about weight limits and what to keep and get rid of.
Purging the clutter is always one of those ‘not so favorite’ things that I absolutely dread! It’s a must each time we move that makes me worry if I’m being mindful of what is essential and what isn’t. I know that sounds strange but if I don’t purge I just know we will be over our weight limit! (I’m a little bit of a collector, OK I like to collect more than a little.) But in all honestly, purging helps me keep tabs on what is important, not to mention it helps me keep my mind off my worry about the move…for the most part!
Of course, no amount of worrying will make everything go perfectly. The emotion will always be there for a myriad of reasons. Just do the best you can to prepare and “Just Let it Go”!
Acceptance of What is to Come
At this stage, you’ll find you are able to organize in your mind the things that need to be done. In all transparency that does not necessarily mean I was moving at lightning speed to do them! It was more like dragging my feet speed at this stage because let’s face it, the act of moving is not fun!
Even though the process of preparing for an upcoming PCS move isn’t the most fun, you still have a lot to look forward to. Once you know for sure where you’re next duty station will be, you can look at all the fun and exciting places you will be able to explore. Then just grin and bear the tedious part of getting on with the move.
Planning and Executing a PCS Move
Once I stop dragging my feet I will find I have a new source of energy. Planning the move and making preparations always begin way before actual orders arrive. But the preparations aren’t much different regardless of where you are PCSing to. Hopefully though by this point, you have hard copy orders and are able to get serious making arrangements for your PCS move.
There are many things that will take some planning and discussion between you and your service member. You both will have your own list of things to accomplish at each phase of the PCS process.
Letting Go and Going With the Flow
At this point, I seemed to be in a state of crying one moment and excited in another. It’s a real roller coaster of emotions! My husband thinks I’m crazy each time we go through a PCS move…he just doesn’t get the emotional ties I’ve made at each duty station that I have to let go of.
Emotions are strong for us spouses as we pick up our families and move to another duty station. We are resilient though and will make a home wherever the military takes us!
What emotions have you experienced during a PCS move?
Elizebeth is a seasoned military spouse, educator, mentor, and mom to a blended family of four children. She is dedicated to helping fellow spouses create a life they love. Elizebeth is the creator and founder of Home Anchor Following Seas where military spouses will find advice and information to help navigate the crazy military lifestyle.