One of the challenges of military spouses is moving their family every few years when their spouse is relocated. The moves are frequent and they’re never easy, especially when children are involved. We got in touch with our military spouse network and asked about the challenges of moving with kids, tips they have for other parents and how they’ve made things easier over multiple years and moves.
Moving is easier when children are young
School-age children have a completely different moving “to do” list than infants and toddlers. At this age, they’ve formed friendships and key relationships at their school, which can make leaving difficult. Military parents not only have to deal with enrolling their children into a new school, but the emotions that come with leaving friendships. With infants and toddlers, there isn’t the stress of enrolling in a new school and chances are the children are too young to form solid relationships. Infants and toddlers obviously have their own challenges, but many of our military spouses agree: the younger, the easier.
Older children know when their parents are stressed
If your kids see you stressed or angry, they will pick up on it and associate negativity with moving. Try to have the best attitude as possible in front of them. It’s OK to be stressed, because moving is stressful! Try your best to be positive around your kids and let it all out when you get time alone.
Show children that seeing new places is fun
One of our military spouses would buy travel books for each location her family moved to. She would take time to go through them with her and pick out all the things they would like to see when they settle in their new home. When they have things to look forward to, the big picture no longer looks as scary.
Show children the positives of moving
Children of military families are truly special. They get to see so much of the country – and even the world – before they’re even adults. Remind them how special their experience is compared to other children their age. They get to meet so many new people and see so many things their peers won’t see until later, or even at all!
Remember that children are resilient
Sometimes, moving is much harder on the parents than it is on the kids. Remember the adventurous spirit you had as a child? Channel that into your move, find the aspects that make your family truly different from so many others in the United States. Push yourself to be adventurous. When you are, your kids will see it too, and that will help their resilience come out during the move.
Relocating is an issue every military family faces. Some have only one move under their belts, while others have 10 or more. No matter how many moves a military family goes through, the process is still stressful. There are ways, however, to manage that stress and one of them is relying on fellow military families for support and advice.
Share with us your moving stories and advice! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.