Last week I shared how technology saved my sanity more than once during our recent PCS. I also shared that this PCS was so different from any of our other moves because the short notice prevented us from being able to schedule movers AND meet my soldiers report date.
At first it seemed like an impossible situation but as we sorted through so many different options we settled on a FULL DITY (aka Do it yourself). While I don’t know if its the perfect option for us it did have it’s perks — like the fact that I knew where everything was throughout the entire process!
The military surely gives us so many opportunities to broaden our skill set doesn’t it?
As you can imagine I learned a whole new set of coping skills and tips for balancing this crazy military life and now I get to share them with you. But before I do I just want to say that there are some awesome blog posts around the web that cover the various “How To’s” of a successful PCS. They share numerous perspectives like 50 Tips YOU NEED Before Your Next PCS ) or the “Prepare Yourself Early” version from Spousebuzz and the latest on SpouseLink is the “Received Orders?” post. All with great logistical information — but I love to talk about the emotional stuff.
So I warn you that while my tips may be a bit unconventional, they also kept me sane throughout the entire process which was INSANE! (In case you missed it… we packed an entire house, loaded moving vehicles (2 — but that’s a story for another time), towed our cars and drove for 3 days only to sign for housing late on Day 3. OH did I forget to mention that we were completely unpacked (except for the garage/non-essentials) within 36 hours. Total move time 9 days from the filling of the first box).
So here we go with your 4 unusual tips to keep you sane during your next PCS.
1) Yoga pants and a cute top go anywhere.
(Tell them you heard it from me :))
Contrary to the opinion of many of the milspouse “fashion police”, tasteful yoga pants are a must when you are in the midst of a PCS. You have to be able to move from packing boxes to running paperwork to your spouse (only to run into their chain of command I will add). You need to be able to transition from a goodbye coffee to a quick commissary run to feed the helpers (which you know will include an unfortunate run in with THAT one spouse who wants to see how you are “handling” it all). Yes, a pair a black (tasteful) yoga pants and a cute top can be comfy, stylish and appropriate for getting it all done.
2) Remember Technology is your friend.
I think the most difficult part of last-minute orders was the whole internet/”being connected” piece. As someone who works from home trying to adjust on the fly was challenging. But I discovered that using my smartphone as a hotspot for all our devices kept us connected, accessible and allowed me to continue to work throughout our move.
3) Stick with Your Original Plan
As moving pro’s we milspouses usually make a travel plan don’t we? Well I am here to tell you that you really should stick with the original plan for one very simple reason. When you are exhausted — which you will be — all rational decision-making skills are gone. Trust me I know.
On our last day in CO we were fortunate that my soldier was able to do his final out REALLY quickly. So instead of getting a good night sleep at the good hotel that we had reservations for, we decided to head out and get a few hours under our belt. What we didn’t realize is that there are no towns to speak of about 4 hours east of Colorado Springs. When we hit the wall and were too tired to drive even a mile more our only choice was a roadside motel that had me giving my soldier THE look. Without going into details my look was warranted but because we were walking zombies I chose to suck it up. We eventually got a couple of restless hours of sleep and were on our way before the crack of dawn smelling of stale cigarettes and wishing we had the guts to actually use the shower. NEVER AGAIN and lesson learned. When you are exhausted stick with the original plan as trust me, you are not in the emotional state of mind to make any sound decisions and where you sleep is a BIGGIE.
4) Let Yourself Ugly Cry
Sometimes the physical exhaustion, stress and emotional rollercoaster that comes with a PCS can become overwhelming. As we drove across Kansas all I wanted to do was turn around. From the moment we got orders I did my best to turn my mindset and attitude “right side up”, but honestly it was hard. I loved Colorado and while I knew I could make the best of any duty station I didn’t want to. I wanted to stay right where I was to hell with the new set of orders. And then a funny thing happened about half way through Dorothy & Toto’s home state. I let myself be sad. For the first time since orders came down I allowed myself to cry — and I mean UGLY cry. The kind of cry that you wipe so many tears and runny nose drips that your sleeve sticks to your arm. I cried to every sad song, every corn-stalk/wheat field and I cried so loud that I woke my sleeping dog. I sobbed to the point that truckers were sending worried looks my way. I dare to think what they would have done if they could have heard me. The reality was that I needed to let it all out. I needed to be sad that I was leaving a place I had grown to love, and I needed to allow myself to grieve. Holding it all in was only delaying the inevitable break, and I’m thankful I allowed myself to let go. So pick your moment, let yourself ugly cry because trust me it will make you feel so much better!
No these aren’t conventional or even typical Judy tips, and like I said you will still need all the logistical tips and strategies that are all over the blogosphere about proper PCS techniques. And I would suggest that you check them out BEFORE you use these simple albeit unusual tips as they are really icing on the cake to make things so much easier. PCS can be a stressful and challenging time, but when you use the coping strategies that work for you it can be a true adventure!
I’d love you hear about your unusual “thing” and/or strategy that made your last PCS a little better! Share it with us in the comments below I’d love to add it to my tool box!
About the Author
Judy Davis, also known as The Direction Diva, is a motivational speaker, blogger, and author of Right Side Up: Find Your Way When Military Life Turns You Upside Down. She is an expert when it comes to helping Military Spouses move Beyond Logistics toward a better life.
The thoughts and opinions posted here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of AAFMAA.