For most children, the start of summer means glorious weeks of playing outdoors, attending summer camps, and spending time with friends and family. But for military families, summertime often looks different: As the most popular time for permanent change of station (PCS) transitions, many military children may spend their summers feeling stressed or anxious about the future.
If you’re a military family in Onslow County and you’re gearing up for a PCS move, you’re not alone. There are a number of great tips and resources to help alleviate stress and worry for your children—and ease your own mind as well.
As soon as your family receives PCS orders, open up the conversation with your children. Just like you, they’ll need time to mentally prepare, say goodbye to their friends, and get excited about their new adventure.
Depending on the age of your child, your conversations will likely differ quite a bit.
For preschool-age children:
Many preschool-age children will find the moving process confusing or upsetting—and they’ll likely have lots of questions. Answer their questions to the best of your ability and be open and forthcoming with them. Don’t forget to offer consistent reassurance that it’s okay to feel scared or overwhelmed by the move—but that many exciting new things await them.
For small children, Sesame Street for Military Families has a selection of helpful relocation resources.
For elementary children:
Talking with your elementary-age children about an upcoming PCS move might include worries about leaving behind friends or anxiety about entering a new school district. Talk openly with your child about why they feel sad or nervous about what’s ahead.
For additional helpful resources, visit Military Kids Connect.
For high schoolers:
Moving as a high schooler is one of the most challenging times to pick up and start over—and many high schoolers will feel frustrated, anxious, and even angry about the change. Because your teenager may have an established group of friends in Onslow County, encourage them to spend time with their friends throughout the summer. You can also remind them that they can stay connected virtually and even plan a reunion in the future.
Planning ahead is one of the best ways to ensure a seamless move and reduce stress for you and your family.
Plan My Move from Military OneSource is a fantastic resource—it creates a custom checklist for your move, filled with detailed information about what you need to do every step of the way. Whether you need to prepare financially for your upcoming trip or you need to locate new child care for your family, the Plan My Move checklist will provide you with peace of mind.
Once you’ve received your PCS information and you’ve talked about it with your children, it’s time to finalize all of the details. Try to involve your children, from start to finish, in the moving process and preparations.
You can spend time together researching their new school or learning interesting facts about the new area you’ll be living in. Teens might be able to search for new fun activities or extracurriculars so they start feeling excited about the move.
Once you start packing, involve your children in the process as well. This brings a greater sense of control and responsibility—and they might even become eager about your new adventure.
Before you pack up everything this summer and set out to your next installation, take some time to make some memories and celebrate the time spent together.
Ask your children where they’d like to visit before moving—a favorite park, restaurant, or beach. Then, make a fun day out of it. Don’t forget to take plenty of photos to remember your time in Onslow County.
If you’re a parent or caregiver preparing for an upcoming PCS move, don’t forget to be gentle and kind to yourself throughout this process. It’s hard for your children, of course—but it’s also hard for you. You’re probably leaving behind friends and community and starting fresh, just as your kids are.
As you go through this process, reach out for help and support when you need it. Your school liaison, as well as other military families in your community, are here to provide you with a friendly face or a heartfelt conversation whenever you need it.
Whether you’re relocating to Onslow County or you’ve been stationed here for years, One Place is dedicated to providing you and your family with the resources, support, and community you need to thrive.