Child holding a leaf

The School Dilemma


I am sitting in a coffee shop as I write this. It’s a drizzly Saturday morning here in North Carolina. I stare out the rain-pattered windows at the moody gray sky. My husband is home with our three babies. I welcome some classical music in my ear pods and sip on a pistachio latte.

I can’t help but imagine what life will be like for our family soon. We will be moving to Washington state, just outside Seattle (the “Rainy City”) in a few months, and a lot of our Saturdays are going to look like this — the weather, I mean.

I know I won’t be able to hide out in coffee shops every rainy day, but I’m excited for all our wet outdoor adventures ahead. What weighs on me most right now as we anticipate this move is not the distance we are going and all that comes with that, but rather the fact that our firstborn will be headed to kindergarten shortly after we arrive.

A cross-country move and our baby starting kindergarten: To be honest, it’s all a bit overwhelming to process as we prepare ourselves for a big year of change and adjustment.

I’m not sure if it makes it more intimidating that we are open-minded to just about everything right now. We are exploring it all: homeschooling, public schools, private schools, Christian schools, nature-based schools. It is hard knowing what the perfect fit will be when we’ve never done this before and have never been there before.

Our son thrives outdoors, but we wonder what options are available to us in such a rainy place. We strive to immerse our children in Christian-rooted activities as much as we are able, but we wonder what faith-based options will be in this area and if they will meet our standards.

How do we get our kids immersed in the world when we also wish to protect them from so much? The school dilemma is real and only becomes exacerbated as a military spouse/family.

In the past, for us, choosing a housing location was easy, based solely on proximity to the post, neighborhood amenities, home size and aesthetics, and, of course, our budget. Now, as our oldest child is school-aged, we must heavily weigh our housing options based on his education.

On top of our worries and wonders, it is hard to know what aspect of our move to establish first: Do we choose where to live, and then figure out the school situation from there? Or do we commit to a school choice, and then choose our living situation based on that? How do we make any decisions at all when we are thousands of miles and three time zones away?

It’s impossible not to feel overwhelmed by it all.

The questions are daunting; the hesitations are rampant. We know we must make these big decisions soon.

I share this all not to be discouraging, but rather to relate to all the parents out there who are experiencing the same thing. As military spouses, we endure more changes and adjustment periods than the average person. Those changes are especially hard when they affect, and even disrupt, our children’s lives.

I am always guilty of trying to figure it all out before we get there. My mind seems to experience a PCS before my actual body does. I know too well that nothing ever goes quite as planned. I do my best to research everything there is to know about where we are moving and the places surrounding it. I remind myself there is still a lot more to learn about an area once you arrive.

We know all too well that, along with our collection of household goods, we must also bring our open minds to our new duty station. We know what’s best for our children, and we just need to reassure ourselves that something will fall into place once we get there. If something doesn’t quite work out, we can always make the necessary changes to adapt to our family’s needs.

Written By Sydney Smith
Army Spouse

Sydney has been an Army wife for four years and has two children. She often writes on the raw experiences military spouses face during challenging times, striving to be a voice of encouragement and validation among the military spouse community.

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1 Comment

  • Your reflections on the upcoming move and the big changes for your family are deeply touching. It’s clear you’re juggling a lot with the move to Washington, your firstborn starting kindergarten, and exploring all the educational options available. The way you’re considering every aspect, from the outdoor activities suited for a rainy place to the type of schooling that aligns with your values, shows your deep commitment to your family’s well-being. Have you found any resources or communities, especially those connected to military families, that have been helpful in navigating these decisions?