By Jaimi Erickson
Contributing Writer

Our children have only known military life. My husband and I were married before he rejoined the military. Our oldest child was born on a military base. As parents, we know how to parent our children while navigating the military lifestyle. However, our lives are about to change when my husband retires from the military in a couple months.  

For military kids, a.k.a. military brats, active duty brings some consistency. In the military community, all the other military families know exactly what deployment is like. They all know that a parent leaves for work in camouflage and could be gone for weeks, months, or even a year at a time.  

Leaving that organized military world means there will be a transition for every family member. As a military spouse, I am currently experiencing my own mental transition, and I know my children will experience shifting from active duty to retired military life in their own ways. Each of us will be affected. 

As we go through the transition process, I am being mindful of caring for my husband as he switches from the world he has known for 20 years to a new one, and I am not forgetting about my children in this process. I want them to appreciate their lives as “military brats”. I also want them to embrace the positives of what is next. 

We are all going to have ups and downs in the next few months. There will be aspects of life as an active-duty military family that we will miss. There are also parts of this life that I am thrilled to leave behind.  

I am teaching my children to embrace the future by helping them engage in the transition to retirement in specific ways. 

Kids should understand that this is a life shift. Young children will not even understand what retirement is other than one day their servicemember wears camouflage to work, and the next, they are wearing sweats or a suit. Retirement can be described for children as a new beginning. That means having potential plans for a forever home, putting down roots, and focusing on building long-term relationships wherever we end up. 

To get the energy flowing, I sat down with each of my children to talk about what they are excited about. I created a vision board for each of my children. They shared their room décor plans and I took notes. We went into the hardware store to gather paint chips, we scoured the internet, and took screenshots of stuff we liked, and we took pictures in the décor aisles at local home furnishing shops.  

Now we have an album where we are saving decorating ideas so the kids can envision all that will be fun about the next place.

We try hard to make every family member part of the process, so we’ve asked our kids to share their thoughts about our forever home. Although we as adults will make the decision, we want to consider the kids’ feedback on homes that they, too, will live in. In this way, our kids know they are being heard. 

Since we plan to stay in one place for the rest of our lives — as of now, anyway — we want to lean into our new community. Making a bucket list of family activities we would like to attend in our new local area helps to generate interest in the area. We can look forward to what is unique about where we are going rather than missing where we have been. 

Moving to a new, “forever” community is essentially another PCS move. We can use our usual plans of action when we PCS with kids, but this time we are not planning on moving again. There is a sense of finality with retirement. That settled feeling is what I am most looking forward to and want the kids to embrace too.  

We have learned a lot as a military family over the past two decades. My children have gained so much strength, wisdom, perseverance, patience, and patriotism. I am thankful that our family could experience it together.  

In this time of transition, I am also grateful for military spouse life insurance. As we plan for the fun ahead, my husband and I have planned for financial security too. 

Retirement brings a season of unknowns. It is also a time of creating new dreams, plans, and goals. Military kids take part in that process with the family and as individuals. We can guide them to focus on the positives in this time of transition. 

About Jaimi Erickson

Jaimi is a mom of 4, military wife, and writer. She blogs about motherhood, kids activities and homemaking tips at The Stay-at-Home Mom Survival Guide. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This