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Decorating a Temporary Home

There is a fact nearly as old as the armed forces itself: military families move a lot. This precipitates tricky issues with home décor because changing living spaces means different designs, layouts and furniture capacities.

It can be tempting to deck out a new pad in all new pieces tailored just for that spot, but it often is not practical. Although it must be wonderful to choose custom furniture designed with the perfect dimensions to fit a particular room, the realities of moving frequently make such choices cost-prohibitive for many military families. Luckily, some simple solutions can help.

  1. Prioritize Sturdiness. During one of our first PCS moves, one of our desks completely fell apart. The piece, purchased from a big-box store, was made from particleboard and was far from high quality. We learned the hard way that the wear and tear of moving is too harsh on low-quality furniture, which is not designed to withstand relocation. Although the price to purchase sturdy, solid wood pieces can seem costly, it is a great investment toward retaining your furniture quality despite moves. Still, solid furniture does not have to be expensive. Purchase sturdy pieces at a discount through local online listings or buy, sell, trade pages around your military installation. Frequently, families just like yours sell lightly-used pieces at a discount. You can also find luck shopping with online discount stores that offer free delivery, military discounts and extra coupons.
  1. Focus on Versatility. Consider purchasing pieces that can be strategically arranged according to the layout of your new home. For example, a sofa, a love seat and a couple of easy chairs can be organized in a variety of layouts. In contrast, a big sectional couch can cause a headache if its dimensions are not suited for your new spot. Need some inspiration? Check out home furniture layout ideas on online design and home improvement websites.
  2. Get Back to Basics. There is a famous fashion adage: a good wardrobe is made up of few timeless staple items. Think about this tried-and-true idea when you are picking furniture, too! Trendy pieces frequently will not stand the test of time and may not adequately blend with the flow of your ever-changing living spaces. A few good-quality pieces can quickly offer familiarity and a feeling of home to each new space.
  3. Consider Color. A frequent complaint from renters is that plain, neutral walls normally cannot be painted. Bring in color and charm with adaptable décor. Art, rugs, lamps, furniture, throw pillows, curtains and plants can add the pops of color that you need to brighten the place up – no new coats of paint required!
  4. Tidy Up. Decorating your home can be complicated by having too much stuff and no good place to put it. Take the time to tidy up before your next big move. This is the ultimate kick-start to the best-decorated home ever. Consider what pieces fit the bill for good versatility and sturdiness. Then, sell or donate the things that will not work long-term.

Moving is a fact of life for military families, but it does not have to mean a complete décor overhaul each time! Remember: when decorating your temporary home, prioritize sturdiness, focus on versatility, get back to basics, consider color and tidy up!

Bonus: Military families have access to exclusive resources from design books and magazines to home improvement content. Get inspired with free resources from the MWR Digital Library.

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Virtual Military Spouse Symposium 2021

MilSpouses – Where were you April 27-29? If you weren’t attending the fifth annual Virtual Military Spouse Symposium, hosted by the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program and the Department of Defense, you can catch what you missed here: https://myseco.militaryonesource.mil/portal/archived/6!

Over 3,600 military spouses were challenged to ‘Reflect. Explore. Act.’ to find meaning, joy and ultimately career and relationship fulfillment. Spouses had this to say about the symposium:

  • “It gave an overview of the many uses of Military OneSource. It offered support and encouragement for spouses. The panel discussion with spouses was wonderful in accomplishing peer-to-peer support and guidance.”
  • “The community and the advice! To know we aren’t alone with the things we are going through and dealing with as we support our spouse who is serving or who has served is such an amazing thing!”
  • “Interaction with the presenters and other participants helped me get over my feelings of being alone in my struggles.”
  • “Learning about all of the resources available to military spouses (the self-care, financial, career and relationship resources). I am a new military spouse and this was very enlightening to me.”
  • “I want you to help me prepare my resume. Listening to you makes me want to take on the world.”   

MilSpouses joined from across the globe, representing locations in the United States, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Guam, Ghana, Peru and Italy. Military OneSource explored self-care and spouses learned to create their own unique brand. SECO career coaches focused on helping spouses find their passion, be their own boss and make it all happen. They also helped spouses understand and master the federal job search, tell their unique story with their resume and interview powerfully.

The highlight of this year’s event was the first ever Relationship Summit, dedicated to helping spouses learn how to manage work-life balance and use skill-building exercises to have candid conversations with their spouse. The military spouse panel, Real Relationships: The Voice of a Military Spouse, was the hit of the day! Take a listen when you get a chance.

  • “This was a spectacular session! Good nuggets presented that will assist in my marriage. Thank you again.”
  • “I personally loved everything the panel had to offer! Thank you so much for holding this!”
  • “I really enjoyed hearing the spouses’ experiences and their insightfulness.”
  • “The panelists were open and honest. Being a military spouse is challenging but with the right resources we can thrive.”
  • “Thanks for the conversation today. It was an eye-opening experience. I learned new ways of communication and relating to my spouse.”
  • “Absolutely loved today’s webinar! Would love more like this.”
  • “This session was THE most important and most helpful I have had yet! This saved my marriage and gave me so much hope that I CAN do this! These panelists kept it real and they gave me some of the best insights into an otherwise unspoken of life!”
  • “Really enjoyed meeting and hearing from these military spouses. Real life examples are so helpful! Appreciated their own personal experiences.”
  • “I love this panel and the information they brought to the conversation. I wish I had this info years ago. Love it!”

Don’t forget to access the VMSS 2021 Participant Guide, designed to help you get the most from these sessions. This guide provides you with the opportunity to complete exercises to keep the momentum going!

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The Lazy and Not So Lazy Days of Military Summers

Summer is usually a time to slow down a bit, relax and catch up with friends and family. As we continue to creep out of isolation, this summer offers us an opportunity to connect in ways we haven’t been able to in a long time. At the same time, for many military families, it is a time for gearing up and getting ready for the next PCS, deployment or welcoming a loved one home.

Especially now, when our social climate and interactions are veering toward a new “normal,” carving out some time to safely gather and interact with others may be a welcome respite from the last year and a half. Additionally, creating some time to just sit in the sunshine, go to a body of water, fish, lie in a hammock, take the family on a picnic or have some alone time will help to serve us well if we are facing a PCS or a deployment. Balance is key and self-care is essential during times when there are added responsibilities.

Reaching out to our military family and support systems during this time may be helpful. It is a chance to connect, and in some cases, relive fond memories until next time we meet. We are also a source of strength and help for one another as we transition into our next duty station. The support systems we have in the military and in one another help us to find balance so that we may enjoy this time of year by slowing down and being able to get everything done if we need to gear up. For this I am grateful. Wishing y’all a relaxing and smooth summer.

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