Inside: Surviving relocation as a military family presents unique challenges. Learn 3 important ways to tackle your biggest relocation challenges head in this Spouses Guide to Surviving Military Relocation.
When we left Okinawa early this fall, we had no idea what was in store for us. Turns out, there would be some relocation challenges.
After traveling for a month, we landed in California and learned it would be an additional 2.5 months before the military had a house available for us. Since this is common situation out here, all the furnished month-to-month rentals were also taken.
We were desperate to find something.
Lucky for us, an ant-infested 400 square foot cabin was available with carpet that turned our feet black. It wasn’t exactly what we had in mind, but we accepted the challenge knowing it was a temporary situation.
We lived there for about 5 weeks and literally counted down the days. My husband and I are all smiles now that we headed back home for Christmas and have a move in date for our base home, but I can assure you we ALL about lost. our. minds. in. that. cabin.
In the past few months we’ve stayed in 6 houses, 4 hotels, taken 3 flights and driven 30+ hours with our kids screaming in the backseat. In military life, we love to talk about resiliency. How we can tackle relocation challenges head on, move around the world at the drop of a hat, and make new friends like speed dating. But the truth is…it’s hard.
The Military Spouse’s Guide to Surviving Relocation
Through our challenges of moving from Okinawa back to the US, I’ve learned several important things about relocating together as a family.
Talk about it – out loud.
According to a brain imaging study by UCLA psychologist Matthew D. Lieberman, verbalizing our feelings makes our stress, sadness and frustration less intense.
“When you put feelings into words, you’re activating this prefrontal region and seeing a reduced response in the amygdala,” he said. “In the same way you hit the brake when you’re driving when you see a yellow light, when you put feelings into words, you seem to be hitting the brakes on your emotional responses.”
What Lieberman basically says is that if you’re able to share your feelings out loud, you’re better able to calm the emotional center (the amygdala) of your brain, enabling yourself to move forward calmly, rather than build resentment and explode later.
Talking about the move with each other seems small, but it’s a very big deal. Recognize how things are both similar and different to your previous duty station, especially if you have kids. They are looking for parents to help them make sense of the change. The more you talk out loud, the more you process.
Claim your space.
No matter where you’re living in the world, you want to make a space your own. Put up familiar items like family photos and keepsakes to make everything feel more like home. You can also decorate certain areas of your home just like you did at your previous duty station. You don’t have to do everything the same, but one or two rooms can offer an immense feeling of comfort and familiarity.
If you’re going to be without your belongings for some time, CORT Furniture Rental can immediately help your house feel like a home.
CORT has a long history of serving the needs of military families. Furniture rental is available in all 50 states as well as in more than 80 countries around the world. Furniture options include everything from individual pieces to furnishings for your entire home. You can order online for delivery in as little as 48 hours with professional setup. This makes life so much easier!
Jump right in.
One of the things we love to do after moving to a new duty station is host a dinner party or housewarming party. We refer to this as “jumping right in.”
We don’t like to wait for friendships or our support network to come to us. Instead we prefer to invite everyone over from my husband’s work and our neighborhood to start networking and building a support network right away.
Friendships and support are crucial to thriving through the ups and downs of military life. Jump right in and keep swimming.
Military life can surprise you.
When we left Okinawa and moved back to the US this fall, we had no idea what was in store for us. There were challenges, but there were so many people from our community that reached out and got us through it. Between talking about it out loud, claiming our space and jumping right in, it feels like everything is going to turn out alright.
Get more ideas to jump start your next move in this Spouses Guide to Surviving Military Relocation!
Want more on military life?
- 6 Ways Military Families Can Make a House Feel Like Home
- The Problem With PCS Moves You Never See Coming
- 10 Things Military Spouses Won’t Tell You About Deployment
- The Pain of Saying Goodbye to Your Military Spouse Tribe