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Getting Ready to PCS With Your Kids? Make It Fun!

Moving is stressful for everyone, not just parents. Saying good-bye to friends, worrying about fitting in at a new school, trying out for new teams, and wanting to be accepted can lead to stress for kids during a permanent change of station (PCS). To help younger kids, you can make it an adventure. Show them your new city on a map. Look on the internet for interesting facts to talk about for the new area. If the trip is long, bring games. Pinterest can be a good source of ideas with printable games. If you are driving and have time to stop and see the sites along the way, use it as an opportunity to visit parts of the country you might not otherwise see in person. If you are flying, make sure electronics are charged and pack snacks in case of delays.

For older kids, transitioning can be even more stressful. Be supportive and try to provide opportunities for them to share with you their concerns. This can help ease the transition when you arrive since you will know what is worrying them.

Trying to make it a more enjoyable experience for you and your kids can help alleviate some of the stress. Make sure also you consider your own wellness. Take time to visit your favorite places before you move, make lists of people you and your kids may want to say good-bye to before moving. Check out more tips for easing PCS stress below:

  • Ensure you do not have any outstanding business. For instance, make sure all library books are returned and the movers do not pack them.
  • Contact your installation’s School Liaison at the next duty station and find out if there are any requirements for your new school district (for example, will they need a new physical for sports or an update to immunizations?)
  • If you are enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), make sure to contact the EFMP case worker at your current duty station so they can ensure a warm handoff to the caseworker at your future duty station. They can be a great resource for helping you find any needed services.
  • Hit the gym! Getting to know your new duty station and meeting new friends may take a little while for you and your kids. Look at your installation’s Fitness Center on your installation to see if they have a co-op or a group to work out with outside. Many bases have stroller exercise groups. This can be a great way to meet friends with similar age children and ensure you are focusing on your health which can be easy to forget about during a move.
  • An installation’s Youth Sports programs are also a great and healthy way for your kids to get involved in their new location. Check with your new installation’s Child Youth Program for sports seasons and sign-ups.
  • If you are on any social media groups for military families they may have recommendations on good activities in the area. Remember to take any advice with a grain of salt, as what you and your family enjoy may differ from others.
  • If you have daycare/preschool age children, see if your installation’s Child Development Centers (CDC) have a waitlist and get your name on it as early as you can once your orders are official.  If there is not available space, the Children and Youth Program can help you understand the ins and outs of the off-base fee assistance program. Visit to find out more about military-operated or military-approved child care programs.
  • If you are moving to a busy area in the middle of summer, make reservations for your temporary lodging. Reach out to the incoming housing office to see how long waitlists are for housing in the area if you plan to live on base.
  • If you are looking to live off-base research the neighborhoods, the commute time to base, and the schools in the area. Apps such as Zillow can help with this.
  • You can contact your installation’s Information, Referral, and Relocation program for more information on PCSing and a schedule of upcoming PCS Workshops. There is one on every installation! PCS Workshops can help with learning about travel logistics, temporary housing, requesting a Sponsor, and are good opportunities to get questions answered all in one setting.
    • For more ideas to make your move a little easier, you can also check out

When moving try to think of it not only for your kids, but for you, as an adventure. Enjoy the family time and the new location.

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