We’re right in the thick of the U.S. military PCS (permanent change of station) season. This means that military families all over the globe are packing their belongings and heading out to new and sometimes familiar destinations.
We were in their shoes last year, prepping for our move from Texas across the pond to England.
For most people, this is a crazy way to live. But we couldn’t imagine it any other way. We’ve become accustomed to and comfortable with moving every 3–4 years. In fact, we look forward to and fully embrace each move.
So why do many find this lifestyle to be so bizarre?
Most people are afraid of change. It seems to be part of human nature to stick with what’s familiar and maintain the status quo. One sign of this is where people choose to live. How many of you know someone who has lived in the same town their entire life?
Maybe this person is you and there’s nothing wrong with that.
People often tell us they don’t understand how we can move so often, saying there’s no way they could do it themselves. Yes, there is some stress involved, but it’s really not that bad. Granted, it is easier when you have a job waiting for you at the other end and Uncle Sam is picking up the moving expenses.
“And what about the kids? I could never put them through something like that.”
First off, kids are amazingly resilient and adaptable.
We believe continually exposing them to new experiences is great for their personal growth and will give them a world perspective that most of their peers won’t have, especially as they eventually enter their teenage and college years.
Our two boys, ages nine and seven, are on their fourth home (in three different U.S. states and now one overseas). Our five year old daughter has lived in one less state.
Even though our kids have been fairly young for each of our moves thus far, each transition has been nearly seamless. Our oldest son just finished third grade and he’s already gone to three different elementary schools.
With every move, they’ve each made friends and acclimated quickly. We realize this may get tougher as they enter middle and high school where cliques are more established. We’ll see how that goes, but I’m sure years of built-in resiliency will pay off.
Still, I’m not saying this is the best or right way to raise kids. I simply want to point out that having kids should not hold you back from taking chances that involve moving to a new location.
We all want what’s best for our kids and will do nearly anything to set them up for success. If you’re a parent who is currently thinking about or prepping for a move, what can you do to help ensure your kids have a smooth transition?
For us, it boils down to one thing: your attitude.
Show excitement. Instead of moaning, “Oh man, we have to move to…” you can say “Hey guys, guess where we get to live next!”
Kids may not understand the reason certain things are happening, but they will always pick up on how you feel about it. If you’re excited, chances are it’ll rub off on them.
We regularly ask our kids where they’d like to move next and throw out various suggestions to let their brains ponder new possibilities. “Wouldn’t it be cool to live in Japan? What about Colorado?” These are normal conversations in our house.
When we arrived in England last summer, the kids went house hunting with us and were a big part of the selection process. We often hear of parents going house hunting without the kiddos to make it easier, which is understandable, but we feel that including them and making it a family decision makes a big difference. It’s nice when your kids give their input, run around an empty house, and can start to visualize who will get which room. They enjoy it and it gives them a sense of ownership and control over a situation that could otherwise make them feel helpless.
Occasionally we hear an “I miss Texas” or “I want to live in Florida” (where the grandparents are) and that’s normal. We simply say, “When you’re done with high school you can live wherever you want, but for now there are tons of new things to experience right here.”
We have two, possibly three, years left in England and we’ve been taking full advantage of this opportunity. We have no idea where we may end up next, and that’s part of the fun. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy the moment and ponder possibilities until we find out where we’re heading next.