November is National Military Family Appreciation Month! One constant in military life is moving. We were lucky enough to stay in the same city for the first 5 years of our marriage, but typically, Navy families move every 2-3 years. Now, I can’t say much for the logistics of moving; the Navy pretty much handles the details for you. But still: Moving. Is. Stressful. And emotionally draining. Especially if you have kids!
I moved to Japan the month after our wedding, then from a house to an apartment with an 11-month-old. We moved back across the Pacific Ocean to Washington State with two kids, 2-and-a-half and 5 months old. Add kid #3 and we’ve moved back to the Midwest, complete with a long stint at my in-law’s, a massive purge, and garage sale.
Can I sit down now?
Moving is hard, but sometimes inevitable. Here are three things I learned to do along the way to ease the emotional strain and make moving a more agreeable and positive experience!
When you’re living out of your suitcase, it’s the perfect chance to simplify. The months leading up to a move, I purge! The less you have to move and fit into a new house, the better! Steer clear of the thought “but we might use it in the new place.” If you didn’t use it here, you won’t use it there. I find that as I’m preparing to move, even if I expect movers will be coming, I can see the things I never use. I purge again when I get into a new house; I keep a box for donations in the corner! When moving in, it’s clear what isn’t going to jive or fit well in your new place. Take the chance to get rid of it!
2) Take advantage of opportunities to rent or borrow
Have on hand as little as you can, and send as much as you can with the movers. This means renting books from the library and borrowing as much baby gear and toys from friends. When we made our trans-Pacific move, I kept zero children’s books and rented from the library on base before we moved. When we arrived in Washington state, I connected with a Navy friend of ours (who understood the process!). The day we flew in, she came by our room at the Navy lodge with toys and books! It was a life-saver, and meant I didn’t have to carry needless baby gear with me.
If you’re in the Navy bubble, fellow spouses are glad to help. Many fleet & family centers also offer loaner pots and pans (and sometimes furniture!). Check your base resources; these things are incredibly helpful!
3) Take a trip!
Because we are in the Navy, there was a lag time between when our house was packed up and when we actually got on a plane ourselves. Instead of struggling in an empty house with kids and nothing to do, we took a trip!
You’re already living out of a suitcase; might as well make the most of it! In our case, we had friends on Guam whom we were dying to see once more before we were too far to visit, so we kept things nice and simple. It proved to be a much-needed reprieve from moving life. We took a break from the stress of figuring out meals and an empty apartment to … well … relaxing on the beach with good friends and nothing on the schedule! If you’re close to somewhere appealing, ditch regular life and take some time off!
Moving is quite a doozy, but actually hides a few good opportunities, like taking a trip and purging your house! By focusing on those positive things, you can distract yourself from the stress and enjoy yourself despite the uncertainty.
Have you moved with kids? What helped you through it?