Moving can always be a challenge for military kids. New schools, new friends, finding their way around a new town — it isn’t always fun or easy to be a child in a military family. And we don’t want to diminish the emotional challenges that PCS moves can have on kids. That’s why we have articles about helping military kids adjust to a new school.
But from a military kid’s perspective, moving isn’t always a negative experience. It can be a fun adventure, a fresh start and an opportunity to make new friends. So, I asked some military kids to share what they love about PCS moves, and here are all the things they told me they love about moving.
- Road trips. Several military kids repeated that this was the best part of a PCS move. It’s common for families to take some extra time traveling between duty stations, so focus on making this part of your trip a fun adventure for your kids. Whether you visit family and friends along the way, stay in resorts, check out national landmarks, or go camping in state parks, get the kids involved in planning out the journey. Let them look up fun places to visit along the route or plan a few days to stop and explore in between long days of driving. And if there isn’t anything interesting along the way, then kids will enjoy the unlimited screen time, extra movies and late bedtimes that are part of a PCS road trip.
- Redecorate your bedroom. Every house is a fresh start for a military kid. If they are feeling upset about the move, focus on the benefits waiting for them in their new home. Will they finally get their own room? Can they paint it their favorite color? If they have to share with a sibling, you can still let them choose new furniture or decorations. Perhaps it’s time to get rid of their “little kid” bedding and upgrade to a theme that interests them now.
- New school. Sometimes a new school is confusing and intimidating, but some military kids enjoy the chance to start again with a blank slate. Going to a new school means new teachers (maybe they will like the next one better!) and a chance to make new friends. Middle and high school students told me they enjoy checking out the new electives and school clubs offered each time they move. And sometimes it’s easier to get onto the team for your favorite sport when you move to a new part of the country. When choosing schools, do your research in advance, and show your child photos from the school website. Explore anything that may be a positive aspect of the new school, so they have something to look forward to when they move.
- Escape the bullies. The other great thing about escaping their current school is that kids can get away from negative classmates and toxic relationships. Is there a kid that has been bothering your student at their current duty station? PCSing to a new town is an opportunity to get away from that. Did your child get off on the wrong foot or make a bad first impression at the last duty station? This is their chance for a fresh start! They can redefine themselves and have better friendships after the move.
- Different activities. Military kids benefit from new experiences every time they move. After a PCS is a great time to try out a new hobby, take a local art or music class, or run for a new role in a school club. If your kids didn’t have many local opportunities at the previous duty station, then help them explore all the fun options close to their new home. Maybe they will discover a club or class that gets them excited about moving!
- Explore and make bucket lists. Every duty station offers different local treasures. Some military kids told me they enjoy the “bragging rights” of all the cool places they have lived and unusual things they have done. Give your military kid the opportunity to be the most interesting person in their class. Help them explore places to visit and things to do near their new duty station. Let them make a “bucket list” of things they want to do while stationed there. And make sure they complete their bucket list from the current location before you move!
If your military child is nervous about an upcoming move, then focus on these positive aspects of a PCS, and give them something to love about moving.