The 15 Stages of a Military PCS
PCS season is around the corner and life is getting quite hectic for quite a few military families. Although it has been a while since our family has gone through a military PCS, I remember the process and how stressful and crazy everything can be.
1. Bored and ready to move
After you have been at your duty station for two or three years, you probably start to feel ready to make a change. You know you are going to be moving this year, you want to know where, and you are ready to start the process.
2. Soft orders, start planning
You hear where you are going to go. If you are happy with this choice, you are worried that will change. If you are not, you are praying it will. You still need to be patient to wait for the physical orders before any of your PCS dreams (or nightmares) can come true.
3. Orders change
Your orders have changed. You assumed you would be spending the next three years in Hawaii, sorry, it’s El Paso. There is still a chance they could change again, but you aren’t holding out much hope. Try to just go with the flow and to not worry too much about the changes until things become set in stone.
4. Hard orders cut, it’s for real
Okay, you are going to this duty station. This is for real. Time to start your planning. You start asking in your local Facebook groups and Google all things about your new duty station. This is an exciting time, but then you start to feel a bit overwhelmed.
5. Stressed out with all you have to do
There is so much to do with a PCS. So many lists to make. So much to get done beyond your everyday lives. Make sure to create some system for everything you have to do and all the paperwork you need. Starting a PCS binder can be a very good idea but you can also just make sure you have a safe place for everything that is easy to take with you on the plane or in your car.
6. Get organized and plan
This is the stage where you decide if you want to live on base or not. If you want to live off, where you should find a house. Should you rent or buy? What about the schools? Take your time and try to relax about this part. There is going to be a lot of information out there and some of it, you can wait until after you are moved to figure it all out. Check out PCSGrades for reviews on different areas near where you will be moving.
7. Movers come, stuff goes
The day has come for the movers to pack up all of your earthly goods. Make sure to get your movers some lunch and offer snacks. They will appreciate it. Don’t pack your trash and make sure anything you want to take with you is safely locked in your car or a room the movers won’t go in.
8. All those last minute things
It wouldn’t be a PCS without all the last minute things you will need to do. From cleaning out your home to making sure you have turned in all those library books before you leave. Reward yourself with a Starbucks or a cupcake after you get everything done. And breathe.
9. Saying goodbye
Saying goodbye to friends is the worst. Try to say, “see you later.” Make sure you are connected on Facebook, that is where your friends will now live. Enjoy the last few days you have together and remember, the military is a small world and you could get stationed together again someday.
10. Physically moving
Now it’s time to either leave for the airport or get in your car to drive away from your home for the last 2-4 years. Adventure awaits, and once you reach this step, you start to feel like everything is going to work out. Remember to bring plenty of snacks and make sure you leave time for pee breaks if you are driving, especially if you have small children.
11. Hotel living
We were lucky, and the longest we have had to stay in a hotel was a week. Others have to stay in them for much longer to wait for housing. Try to be creative with planning your hotel stay and remember, eventually you will live in an actual house, with a real kitchen and no hotel keys.
12. Your stuff is here
Yay! Your stuff in here, you have moved into your new home and life is about it get much better. No more sleeping on an air mattress and your son finally gets to play Xbox again.
13. Unpacking hell
Time to unpack and unpack and then spend more time unpacking. Just get it done. All of it. You will be glad you did.
14. Make new friends
Now that you are at your new duty station, time to make new friends. This can be difficult but putting yourself out there is a must. Start with just saying hi to a neighbor or going to a playgroup with your kids. Making friends will take time but once you do you will feel more at home no matter where you are stationed.
15. Relax in your new home
Whether you are in a 3rd story two-bedroom apartment in Germany or have bought your first ranch house outside of Ft. Carson, enjoy your new home. This will be where you will live for the next few years. Bloom where you are stationed even if you are sad to be there. Adventures await!