As adults we understand that moving from base to base is just part of the job, we are used to picking up and starting over. Most of us make sure to have careers that are flexible and work in just about any place we could get stationed!! We stay connected with old friends via social media, and often end up back at the same base down the road. Kids however are just a long for the ride, as they get older they begin to understand that it’s part of the job, and learn how to stay in contact with their friends. Military kids will possibly end up going to 5 different schools over the years, having to learn new hallways, new teachers and make new friends over and over again. Here are some of my best suggestions to help make PCS’s better and less of an uprooting for young kids maybe experiencing their first PCS they are old enough to understand.
Get Friends Involved Our last move was the first one that our kids were really old enough to understand that we were moving to another state, and that all the friends my daughter met during Pre-K wouldn’t be at her new school next year. She was sad as these were her first friends she made on her own.
To help with that adjustment we had our friends come help us with packing, and made sure they knew that although we were leaving they would still see pictures of each other as time passes!! We even had a pizza and movie night at their house after we left our house that night before we headed on our way the next day!!
Help them stay connected
They rely on us to help them stay in contact with their old friends. So make sure to show them pictures, send cards, and do video calls when you can. They will make new friends but that doesn’t mean they have to just forget about their old friends as time passes. We have even had sleep overs with friends who live at bases not too far away so they can look forward to reconnecting with their old friends once and a while.
Just like homecomings having a countdown, and a schedule of how you things are going to happen allows kids to have a visual idea of what to expect and when its coming. They deserve to know the steps so that they can prepare. Pick a certain day to pack their rooms, and let them be involved with packing. If you are having a moving company come, let them be there so they can see their stuff being packed, and pack their suitcases with them to bring their favorite stuff along right away!!
Keep an open line of communication. Allow them to express their feelings, and help them work through the feelings. Show them great things about the new base, let them look at houses online with you, give them an idea of how life will be there.
Involved in new community
If you really want to help them get adjusted in their new community. Start out with a great drive around showing them where all the fun parks are, their school is, where you will go shopping. Let them get a first hand feel of the area. Sign them up for sports, a club at the library, go to the park, the pool let them start making friends that like things they like.
Written by Sabrina Johannes Executive Director