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Mastering Working from Home

 Posted by on May 21, 2018 at 13:10
May 212018
 

In this age of technology, telecommuting and working from almost anywhere is a real possibility with some awesome benefits. I’m a regional manager for a large insurance company, and while we have an office in my area, it’s about 90 minutes away from my house. This doesn’t lend itself to be an easy commute every day, so I usually only go into the office once or twice a week. The rest of the time I am working out of my house. And, in the process, I’ve learned a few lessons the hard way. Here are some tips to master working from home:

Lee-Anne

Have a clearly defined space with rules and boundaries. I have had various forms of office space throughout my career. It started as a chair at the dining room table and eventually morphed into its own room with a desk and everything! I am lucky now to have a door that separates my work area from the rest of the house, and my family respects that if the door is closed, mommy is busy. I can leave my computer there and not have to worry about anyone spilling chocolate milk on my spreadsheets.

One of my biggest struggles has been blending work time and home time. Many people (my husband included) think that because I am working from home, it means I can do stuff around the house such as laundry, dishes or minding the kids. I have had to correct that assumption many times. Just because I am physically home, doesn’t mean I am not working. It’s the same as if I was in an office somewhere from 8 – 5 every day. My time savings is the commute and breaks. Because I don’t have to drive somewhere, I can “leave for work” a little later which allows me to help get the kids ready for school. If I take a lunch, I can use it to do some chores, sure, but if I was at an office I would be using that time for myself and so that is what I typically dedicate my breaks to.

Define working hours. I start my day around 7:30 a.m. and end it at 4 p.m. During those hours, I’ve asked my family to pretend that I’m not there. On the flip side, I don’t work during family time. When you take work home with you, it can be tempting to jump on and check emails in the evenings or after bed time, but usually once I finish for the day, I am done. Sometimes, if I get taken away from work for an hour or two during the day for a personal thing, I will work that evening to make up for some of the tasks I didn’t get done, but it’s rare. I find that routine is best for me and everyone else.

Be professional. My husband is in the Army National Guard, and when he is not deployed, he is a stay-at-home dad. Our 6-year-old goes to school, but our 2-year-old is home with him, and let me tell you, she is loud! Luckily, my door muffles most sound, and my husband keeps her relatively quiet when he knows I am on the phone ̶  which is a lot. If I must be on a call with my kids around, I try to give them activities that I know will keep them occupied. Most importantly, I keep my phone on mute and I only take it off when I speak.

Be comfortable. I struggled with headaches for years only to find out it was a direct result of how I was positioned while working on my computer. It caused muscle spasms which led to dreadful headaches. Be kind to your body and make sure you are working ergonomically!

Moral of the story is: working from home can come with some challenges, but if you prepare and set boundaries, it can really complement the military family lifestyle. You will master it in no time!

The Seasoned MilSpouse

 Posted by on May 14, 2018 at 16:17
May 142018
 

In the many years I’ve been a MilSpouse blogger, I’ve always felt new in some way. I began as the newbie spouse — the spouse coping with her first deployment. Then I was the new mom. Before I knew it, I was the new spouse, new mom, newly reunited and planning her first PCS. Most recently, I embarked on my first OCONUS PCS. See? Still shiny and new.

Kristi

But something weird happened around my spouse’s tenth year of military service. I seemed to have passed an invisible line that separates the new and the ol— err — seasoned. I don’t mind the title, it just hadn’t dawned on me that I was one until this year.

The fast-paced military life has a way of distorting time and distance in our minds, doesn’t it? Like, how is my child already seven? We just moved, how are we already talking about moving again? Thank goodness for social media keeping tabs on the years for me — it adds a healthy dose of perspective to someone like me who feels like everything just happened.

Just this week, I vocalized this to a cashier at our current location in Japan. The cashier casually asked me how long I’ve lived here.

I replied with my scripted, “We just got here in June.” But really, I can’t say “just” anymore. We’ve been here a year, even though I still feel new, which I explained to her.

She replied, “Honey, we all still feel new.”

Mind. Blown.

Not only did she put into perspective that the newness never really wears off overseas orders, but that the newness never really feels like it falls away from military life — we never completely have it figured out because it’s always changing just enough — with a PCS or deployment or new job — to keep us on our toes and keep us feeling new.

Looking back, there weren’t really signs that the seasoned transition was happening; I never picked up on them if they were there. I didn’t get an orientation or a merit badge — not even a standard DoD email. It was more of a “Poof! You’re seasoned now.” It was an abrupt change, like a PCS or a deployment with minimal details — there one day, gone the next.

But, I do find lately that I’m more commonly the token seasoned spouse in a room of youngsters. I’ll be holding my own in a conversation until they start talking about going out together after a squadron event. After this? Yeah, after this I’m going home because babysitters make more money than I do and I’m exhausted.

I feel a little bit pressured to say profound things that will serve as their military spouse mantra for years to come. Meanwhile, I’m still doling out blank stares when asked what about my husband’s job at the squadron (although, I have made it a point to learn that this time around). Perhaps the balance keeps the few pearls of wisdom I can offer from sounding preachy — totally intentional, you guys.

I still ask questions, and I still need advice. I still learn something new about base life or military life nearly every day, but I am now trying to balance that with a goal to learn the names of the Marines and spouses from my husband’s shop and volunteer more in the squadron.

Most of all, in my military spouse tenure, I want to avoid going from seasoned to salty. We run the risk of becoming burnt out with volunteering and moving and separations and sacrifice. What I hope to provide for this up-and-coming generation of military spouses is a positive image of a seasoned spouse — one who is relatable and approachable, one who doesn’t wear rank, one who is ready to support, volunteer and lift others up.

In my days as a newbie spouse (not just when I thought I was still one), I had some incredible seasoned spouses leading the way. It’s an inspiring legacy to follow, and I am humbled to carry the torch for a little while.

Celebrating MilSpouses

 Posted by on May 8, 2018 at 13:54
May 082018
 

Like me, many of you may have assumed that Military Spouse Day (May 11) is meant to celebrate your husband or wife who serves in the military. To my surprise, my husband told me that it’s to honor me – his military spouse! MilSpouses often don’t think of themselves; we just do what needs to be done and keep moving forward. This day is to appreciate all the doers and homefront heroes that encourage each other and support their spouses.

Kelly

MilSpouses are incredibly important for the military community because they’re critical to the continued functioning and success of many military personnel. It is their constant love and support that keeps things running at home during deployments, helps moves go smoothly, and often helps other spouses and families adjust to military life and new surroundings. We do all this with love and enthusiasm – most of the time. Seriously though, part of being a military spouse is supporting your service member through not only the regular rigors of marriage but also through the unique challenges military life can bring. For this, MilSpouses deserve a day, at least, to be appreciated and to show themselves a little love.

To further acknowledge this day, you can create some of your own traditions that your spouse does for you, or that you can do for yourself. After all, since it always falls on a Friday, you have an entire weekend to celebrate! Here are a few ideas to try:

  • A weekend away. A day at the spa, anyone?
  • A celebratory dinner. Date night is always a great way to say thank you – whether you go out or cook and stay in.
  • A video. Record significant moments where your spouse’s support was particularly impactful on you and/or the kids.
  • A gift. Cards, flowers, foot massages – the possibilities are endless.
  • A guy’s weekend. Male military spouses, I haven’t forgotten about you! Send him off for weekend full of pizza and without the honey-do-list.

If you are a military spouse, don’t forget to acknowledge and love yourself on this day. Thank yourself for your contributions and then thank your service member for theirs, too. It’s a journey taken together, after all.  The appreciation goes both ways!

Military Life According to MilKids

 Posted by on April 24, 2018 at 11:25
Apr 242018
 

The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, my dad was offered a job that would have moved us out of town. Because I was a bratty teenager, I felt my “You can’t move me in the middle of high school; it’s not fair” argument was as valid as my dad’s argument for career advancement, better pay, blah, blah, blah.

Kristi

We ultimately didn’t move. My dad found a job elsewhere in my hometown. The pay wasn’t as great as the opportunity he passed up, but we got to stay put. I got my way. If I know them at all, my family would agree it all worked out, but I’ve always harbored some guilt over the way I acted that summer.

We ask a lot of our military kids (mine will gladly tell you I ask them to take the trash out, clean their rooms and brush their teeth way more than a nice mom would). They didn’t ask to grow up in a world where the only constant is the lack of consistency. They change schools and make new friends every two or three years, and they regard mom or dad being gone as something as ordinary as Monday rolling around after a weekend.

It’s a tough job, but they always come through, and the military community rallies behind them. There are free tutoring resources, specialized non-medical counseling options, Operation Purple Camp, Daddy Dolls and books dedicated to them. Each April has even been deemed the Month of the Military Child, for crying out loud. That’s the only recognition I’m aware of that celebrates the sacrifices and resilience of kids just because of their parent’s profession. But, if you ask me, they deserve it, all of it, and more.

I had a thought the other day: Do they know how amazing they are? Do they know the why behind daddy leaving or our family moving? Do they think we’ve gypped them in some way, and is that going to materialize in some sort of passive-aggressive phase in 10 years (a mom needs to be prepared, after all)?

So, channeling my inner Lois Lane, I sat down and interviewed my kids. J, my son, is seven, and R, my daughter, is nearly five.

The interview

Me: Where were you born?

R: The United States!

Me: Do you know which state?

R: Sorry, no. I can’t remember. It was a long time ago.

J, laughing at his sister: New Bern, North Carolina


Me: How many places have you lived?

J: Do you mean countries, or states, or—

Me: —whichever.

J, speaking with his hands: OK, so three states, plus Japan.

R: THREE!

J: Nuh-uh, you only lived in two sta—

Me: There’s no wrong way to tell me. She said three. That’s right, three places altogether.

R, dreamily as she sits in her kitchen in Japan: Wow, I can’t believe I got to live in California.

J: Yeah, that’s where the Great Chicago Fire happened.

Me: Nope, that was in Chicago, Illinois.

R: Where is “Illi-snows” at?


Me, sensing the rabbit hole: Next question, which house was your favorite so far?

J, still giggling from question one: This one is funny because the laundry room is right by the kitchen. All but one of his houses has been like this.

R: I really like Nana and Papa’s house because they don’t have an upstairs.

Me: But, that wasn’t one of our houses.

R: Oh, yeah.

J: I liked our California house because it had soft, “turney” stairs. A landing.

R: I “reery, reery” liked those swirly stairs in our cabin.

J, now in complete hysterics: We didn’t live there either! We were just there on vacation.

R, joining in the contagious laughter: Oh, yeah, right.


Me: What school was your favorite so far?

R: MISS KELLI’S SCHOOL!!!! The CDC in Monterey, California.

J: This one, this one! Because I get to go upstairs every Wednesday. Apparently, stairs are synonymous with cool.


Me: What is the best part of moving?

R: That we’re in the military!

Me: Right, that’s why we have to move, but what do you like about moving?

R: Ummm…OH! We get new furniture, but it’s really the furniture we already had!

J: I like hotel rooms. They’re really nice. Oh, and airplanes, of course.


Me: What’s the worst part about moving?

R, with eyes as big as dinner plates as she flashed back to the Japanese Encephalitis vaccination: Getting shots. I hate shots.

J: It takes a long time to get there and get our stuff.


Me: Is your dad gone a lot?

J: Mmmhmmm.


Me: Where does he go?

J: To work.

R: And Hawaii! And he eats pancakes.


Me: Do you miss him when he’s gone?

J: I only miss him when I’m at home because when I’m at school, I’m having fun.

Me, teasing and only mildly hurt: So, you don’t have fun with me at home?

J: (blushing) Mooooommmm, stop!


Me: What is your daddy’s job?

J: Being in the military…

R: I forgot the name…

J: …I think it’s the…Army?

My husband, bounding into the room: WHAT!?!

J, jumping two feet out of his dining room chair: Ahh, oh yeah, Marines! I meant Marines! We all laughed, and I kicked my husband out of the room again, so I can get some organic answers.


Me, whispering as not to disturb the Marine in the next room: What do Marines do all day?

J, deadpan: Paperwork.

R: And fly airplanes.

J, summoning the courage to name drop again: It’s a C-130…or a CB30

Me: You were right, C-130.


Me, just for fun: What is mommy’s job?

J: To get us to school on time.

Me, shrugging: Well, that is something I do.

R: Your job is bigger than outer space!


Me: How many friends do you have?

J: So many that I can’t even count them.

R, modestly: Like a 100.


Me: Where do your friends live?

J: Most of them…I actually don’t know. They could be anywhere by now.

R: Ooooh! I know where one friend lives! I saw her!


Me: Why do you think we have to move?

J, very matter-of-factly: Because we’re in the military, and I know that because someone told me.

R: …chewing a piece of chicken…


Me: You’ve lived on base and off base. Which one is better?

J: On, because on base we have a library, the MCX, two squadrons, a pool, another pool and a gym. Oh! And I get to play outside until colors.

R: Off base, one of my friends lives there.


Me: Would you rather live in one place forever or move around?

In unison: MOVE AROUND!!!

Me: Why?

My husband, who had snuck back into the kitchen: Why?

J: Dad, you can’t ask us anything, only mom can ask.

J, staring at me expectantly, clearly unaware I already asked: Well, are you going to ask me?

Me: Exhale. Why?

J: Because living in one place is boring. And, I notice that we’re in a pattern. We move every two or three years.


Me: Where do you think we will move next?

R: B’ginia.

J: Yeah, Virginia, because they have tree houses there, and we could probably get one. Or a pool…


Me: How many places do you think you’ll live by the time daddy retires?

R: I can’t count that high, I’m only four.

J: Like, 100


Me: What does retire mean?

J: Retire means that you get taken away from your job and you have to go find another job.


Me: What is your favorite thing about being a military kid?

R: We get to move and then we get new furniture, but it’s really our old furniture, but we missed it, so that makes me happy.

J: We get to move a lot.

I go through phases of guilt for asking so much of these kids — uprooting them, making them endure such a boring house while my husband is away (thanks a lot, son). But, getting their thoughts made me feel so much better. Most of what worries me doubles as their favorite parts of their childhood, and we’re giving them a pretty cool one. We all are.

Apr 172018
 

Moving up, out, and into adulthood can be an exciting time for you and your high school senior. I’m a firm believer that the universe has a way of making this transition easier. Of course, we will all miss our children’s smiling faces and reminisce about how much they’ve grown and all they have accomplished. But there is a little place in every parent-of-a-senior’s heart that secretly will not miss picking up smelly lacrosse gear, vacuuming those little AstroTurf pebbles out of the carpet or constantly barking at them about chores. As parents, we want to make sure our kids are prepared to leave the nest. Here are some tips for parenting seniors through the transition into adulthood.

Cassie

  1. Financial management classes. Most high schools now require students to complete a personal financial management class before graduation. If your high school doesn’t, insist that your child take an online course.
  2. Allowance changes or a job. “Mom, I need money for the basketball game.” “Mom, I need gas money.” “Mom, can I have money to eat out with my friends?” “Mom, I need a haircut.” We’ve heard them all. If your child is able to hold down a job while also continuing with the demands of his or her extracurricular requirements, great! A part-time job in high school is a great option. If your family relies on the allowance route, consider slowly increasing your child’s allowance while reducing the number of a-la-carte money handouts. With the increased cash comes the increased responsibility of budgeting his or her own money. One strategy for determining an appropriate allowance would be to add up what you pay for annually—haircuts, gas, clothing, extracurricular handouts, etc. Allot this amount, monthly, into a teen checking account they can manage on their own (with guidance from mom and dad, of course). This can help your senior learn to budget and understand how much things cost in the real world.
  3. Let them make mistakes. When your child leaves the house, they won’t have you to rescue them every time they turn something in late or they forget their lunch at home. Teach your child logical consequences by allowing them to learn from their mistakes. Put the ownership of their daily activities on them. It will not kill your senior to make their own lunch, to reload their own lunch account (included in the allowance budget), or to track their own grades. We can keep a watchful eye by checking in, but as they near adulthood, it should be less often and with more of the responsibility on the child.
  4. Teach them basic skills. True story, my son did not know how to deposit cash into an ATM until this year, and he is 17. I just assumed he knew, but he didn’t. Teach your children basic skills—how to pick out produce in the grocery store, how to read nutrition labels, how to compare prices, how to tip the server, etc. When it’s time to replace the tires on the car, ask them to do the research. Don’t assume that your child knows the ins and outs of adulthood. Take the time to share your knowledge in a loving way.
  5. Establish expectations of adulthood. Talk to your child about how you see your communication changing when they leave the house. Come to a consensus on a reasonable amount of communication. Let’s be real. They may not want to call us every day (even though we’re awesome) but it’s not unreasonable to ask to hear from them regularly. If you see your financial role changing in their life, share that with them and together, come up with a plan to ease that transition. If they are college bound, set a realistic GPA you expect to see at school. Talk about how they will manage real world situations that will require them to make good choices. Communicating, openly, about how life will be different will help you and your child grow.

Preparing your senior for adulthood and letting go of some of the responsibility of your child’s daily activities is hard. You have been the momager or dadager for almost 18 years! Don’t think of it as “letting go.” Think of it as teaching them to survive and thrive as a young adult. Be honest with your child about what they can expect and prepare them with knowledge. Then, prepare yourself for that first call home when they ask for your advice. Just because they leave the house doesn’t mean you stop caring. You are simply entering a new phase of your relationship. Good luck!

Apr 092018
 

April is the Month of the Military Child and is the perfect time to celebrate our MilKids for rolling with the punches that military life brings. To celebrate, spend the day with your kids, focused on activities that show how great military life is – including learning to overcome the challenges that come with deployments and PCS.

Julie

  • Purple up! Join others in wearing purple on Thursday, April 26, 2018, to celebrate military kids. Schools and businesses across the nation will wear purple to show support and appreciation for MilKids’ strength and sacrifices.
  • Explore your base. Go to MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to find the locations and hours for the facilities your base offers. Together, discover and enjoy what you have earned by serving: parks, bowling, pool, gym, library, exchange, sports fields, MWR and more.
  • Plan a trip. Visit your base Information, Tickets and Tours office to see what events are happening and what discounts they can offer. Let the kids help choose what to do and make the plans with your guidance.
  • Watch TV. Sharing your kids’ favorite shows together can give you more to talk about. For preschoolers, Sesame Street for Military Families offers shows and downloadable activities by military life topic.
  • Surf the web. Show your kids, tweens or teens Military Kids Connect where you can watch videos, play games and learn more about military life. You might learn something more about each other, too.
  • Follow your USO. Find your local USO center on the map and then call them or follow them on their social media pages to discover what free or discounted events they offer.
  • Treat your MilKid. Give your child a budget for the day and let them decide where to go and what to spend money on. Use this opportunity to share and compare movie, toy and food prices on and off base so they can see how far they can stretch their money.
  • Gift them education. Teens stress a lot about applying to college and for scholarships. Take a day and help them find military scholarship opportunities and help them apply.
  • Hit a homerun. Make active memories with your MilKids on base. Bring your sports gear and see how many sports you can play in a day. Between the laughs, bloopers and exertion, you’ll have inside jokes to enjoy for years.

Pros and Cons of Having a Baby Overseas

 Posted by on March 27, 2018 at 09:08
Mar 272018
 

Growing your family is always an exciting decision, but it can be a little different when you are stationed overseas. When my husband and I first got to Europe, we thought we wouldn’t want to have another baby so far from family. After being there a while, and meeting mothers who recently delivered babies on base, we were convinced that it was possible and eventually, we decided to have our fourth child while stationed overseas.

Lizann

Since it is different than being in the States, there are a few factors you must consider when deciding to have a baby while stationed outside of the U.S. I’ve outlined the pros and cons below with some tips from my experience to help you with your journey!

First up, the “pros”:

  • Military hospitals: Base hospitals are staffed with American doctors and nurses who offer the same quality of care you will find in the States. In some small hospitals, the care is more personal than what you find stateside. Our base hospital only averaged one birth per week, so each mother was given the star treatment while she was a patient.
  • Citizenship: A baby born overseas to two married American citizens is automatically an American. However, if at some point in the future your child might want to become a citizen of the country they were born in, that’s a possibility.
  • Supportive community: Overseas bases generally have a tight-knit American community. This means bringing meals to new mothers, helping with rides to school for older children and sharing baby clothes or gear. While not all units are the same, there’s a good chance the groups you connect with on base will be happy to help you.

Next up, the “cons”:

  • High-risk pregnancies: Military hospitals overseas aren’t always equipped to handle high-risk situations. In these cases, you will be referred to a specialist off base or to a local hospital. Fortunately, TRICARE covers all prenatal care and birthing procedures, even if you are referred off base. They will also cover a translator to accompany you if an English-speaking doctor is not available.
  • Extra paperwork: Instead of a traditional birth certificate, the baby will receive a Certification of Birth Abroad. Parents will need to follow instructions for obtaining the birth certificate and possibly a translation from the local government. You will also need to apply for a Social Security number and a passport as soon as the baby is born. Military bases have classes and can offer support throughout the paperwork process.
  • Travel complications: One challenge to having a baby overseas is that the baby is not able to travel out of that country until they have been issued a passport. There are ways to expedite this process, but it still takes at least one to two months. Consider this when planning a move or a vacation.

With quality care from a base hospital and support from the American community, having a baby overseas can be a smooth experience. Were any of your children born while you were stationed overseas? Share your experience with us.

Do’s and Don’ts of Purging to Move

 Posted by on March 19, 2018 at 09:51
Mar 192018
 

Whenever we get ready to move, I have an overwhelming desire to purge, consolidate and get organized. This summer, we will execute our eleventh Permanent Change of Station, and that doesn’t include the number of times we’ve moved houses during a tour due to a variety of situations.

Cassie

More than once during one of these moves, I’ve found myself wishing I had kept something I had donated, or wishing I got rid of something we hauled across the country. Here are some thoughts on what to take and what to discard or donate during your next PCS.

Keep:

  • Furniture. Every house is different, and it’s rare that you will live in more than one house with the same square footage. It’s also rare that you will use your furniture in the same spaces in each house. If you are moving from a large house to a smaller house, store your furniture, even if it means storing it for two or three years and paying the monthly fee. The moral of the story: Storage may be expensive, but replacing furniture is even more expensive.
  • Curtain rods, window coverings and décor. Everyone’s taste changes over time and it’s nice to have new décor and window coverings when you move. It makes the home feel cozy and up-to-date. But I have found myself replacing that set of antique keys that went out of style, or that table lamp I didn’t need anymore, with items that are eerily similar to the original. If you are in the mood for a change, store the window coverings and décor and pull them out at your next duty station. You may find that what is old is new again when you haven’t seen it for a few years.

Ditch:

  • Expired medication, cleaners and pantry items. Ask your installation hospital if they will discard expired medication for you – never toss meds in the trash. If you don’t live near an installation, ask a local pharmacy. Study the expiration dates and discard anything that will expire before you move or while in transit.
  • Open items. Contracted military movers should not move open items, but some will still try. Three guesses on how fun it is to clean up a moving box of pantry items covered in spilled olive oil, powdered sugar, or my personal favorite: chia seeds. I’m just saying.
  • Broken items. Either fix your broken items or kiss them goodbye. Chances are that if it has been sitting at the bottom of your “to-do” list at this duty station, it will still be there at the next one. (Looking at you, 20-year-old broken coffee mug).
  • Alcohol. Contracted military movers are not authorized to move alcohol – so ditch the booze.

Donate:

  • Clothes. Donate clothes you don’t wear (sorry, skinny jeans) or that are not suitable for your next duty station’s climate. Consider local churches, military thrift stores and nonprofit organizations willing to pick up bulk donations free of charge.
  • Baby items and toys. Most local shelters and some after-school programs will happily accept donations for little guys.
  • Food items. If you have unexpired items that you don’t want to take with you, donate them to the local food bank.

Here’s the truth: Regardless of how much you purge and how much you plan, moving is hard. But getting organized and clearing out the clutter before you arrive at your next duty station will make the transition less stressful. Start organizing folks – your next move will be here before you know it!

De-Stress Before Your PCS

 Posted by on March 12, 2018 at 10:28
Mar 122018
 

New stations, new relationships and new adventures lie ahead whenever we prepare for another (or first) Permanent Change of Station. Part of the appeal of military life is the opportunity to move to new places, but let’s be honest – moving can be scary and a lot of work. Below are some simple but helpful things you can do to make your PCS as stress-free as possible.

Kelly

  • Get Rid of Stuff. A PCS is a great reason to purge. Have a garage sale, list items online or donate to charity. This is best done a few months before you move, or seasonally. As your move gets closer and you find a new place to live, you can sell or donate larger items that won’t fit, or you do not want to store. Money from anything you sell can go toward your moving fund.
  • Create a PCS Binder. Over the past few moves, we inadvertently created what I now refer to as the PCS Binder. Every piece of information needed to PCS goes into this binder. Ours has a zippered pocket in front where I keep pens, permanent markers, sticky notes, paper clips, tape, stamps, etc. Inside, I keep a small hardcover journal. Any information that we might need access to before, during and after the move goes into the book. Names of utility companies and account numbers, realtor names and numbers, the name of the moving company and contact info, prospective home options, school info – you name it, it goes in the book! We’ve referred to it more times than we can count. A word of advice – do NOT keep bank account or credit card information here.
  • Stay Healthy. Most importantly, take care of your health and wellness during this time. There are a million moving parts during a PCS! It’s important to keep your head clear and your body calm. Meditate, exercise, eat well and try not to schedule a lot of extra activities or overextend yourself. Also, do your best to get some sleep. I know how the mind can run wild, but you probably can’t do anything about your PCS in the middle of the night.

For a stress-free PCS, remember to utilize the resources available to you, including an entire section dedicated to PCS on the Military OneSource website. There is plenty of information out there, so set aside time to read through and take notes as needed. Remember: Be proactive when you can, stay organized and ask for help if you need it. You’ve got this!

Mar 052018
 

If the military needs a spokesperson for its lodging facilities, I’m over here in Japan jumping up and down shouting, “Pick me!”

Kristi

Despite being a huge fan of these facilities now, I started as a skeptic. I thought there had to be a reason they were so cheap. When we were newlyweds, my husband left for training and I stayed with him at the base’s temporary lodging facility for a few days. This trip deepened my skepticism with a shower I didn’t want to step foot in.

Then, while living in Monterey, California, I started hotel shopping for our family’s first trip to nearby San Francisco. I scrolled through one of the hotel sites for hours before realizing that hotels in the heart of the city are very expensive. Then, my husband mentioned the Marine Memorial Hotel. I replied with a sigh and an eyeroll, like a predictable hotel snob would. But eventually, I started quietly looking into it, never letting on that he might have a good idea.

I was surprised to hear that other military spouses in Monterey raved about the Marine Memorial Hotel. It ticked all the boxes: great location, clean, cool vibe and free breakfast. We stayed for two nights when we could’ve only afforded one anywhere else in the city (and that’s using “afforded” loosely). Plus, we ate a free breakfast with an awesome view! It’s nearly impossible to find anything else for free in San Francisco… except fog; there’s plenty of that.

That vacation was not an isolated incident. My family’s visits to the Hale Koa in Hawaii and the Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul were vacation perfection. Both resorts house restaurants and convenience stores, host special events and can set up local tours for you. They are clean, and their location is unbeatable.

Other resorts, like Shades of Green near Disney World, Seward Resort in Alaska, Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Germany, and the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo (which I get to visit in just a few months!) are on my short list. These are all available to make much-needed rest and relaxation trips affordable for military families.

A few years ago, on our cross-country move to Monterey, I was exhausted, and we still had to cross the Rockies and a desert before we hit the Pacific. I was out of patience, and the kids were out of movies and toys in the backseat. We were being overtaken by our dirty laundry in the back of the SUV. On night eight of our drive, we pulled through the gate of Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs for what I expected would be a less-than-relaxing night and a shower I may or may not want my feet to touch. My husband checked us in, then he drove us around to what looked more like a townhouse than a hotel room. I gave him a look like, “Don’t mess with me right now,” but he proceeded to unlock the door to a two-bedroom townhouse with a full kitchen and a washer and dryer. There were happy tears. I hugged the washing machine. That stay re-energized me for the rest of the trip.

Not all facilities are created equal, but the point is that it’s always worth a look. So, if you have travel coming up (or you want to have travel coming up), check out some of the military’s best kept secrets first. They may be on your route. They may be at your destination. Either way, you’ll save some money while you’re making memories with your family.

All materials copyright Military OneSource, 2012. Blog content held jointly by writer and Military OneSource, with shared rights to republish with appropriate attribution.