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PCSing with Kids: Making the Move a Smooth Transition

Written by Shelly Scott from GetSidekicks and Megan Harless from PCS Like a Pro

For military grown-ups, PCSing is a familiar part of life. But for kids, these moves can be stressful. They have to say goodbye to friends, adjust to a new school, and adapt to a completely new environment.

Here are some specific ideas to help your kids adjust to the move and make the PCS process a little smoother:

Before the Move

  • Get them involved in the purge: Let your kids help decide what clothes and toys they've outgrown. Here are some ways to make it fun and educational:

  • Host a garage sale: This is a great opportunity to teach kids about business. Price their items together, practice making change, and let them keep the earnings.

  • Donate unwanted items to a local charity: Talk to your kids about the importance of helping others and choose a charity that interests them.

  • Create an inventory list: Worried about lost toys? Help your kids create a list of their special belongings. Include a space for a photo or detailed description, the box number, and a checkbox to confirm arrival. Consider using a fun app to create a visual list.

  • Pack a "Memory Box": This box can hold keepsakes, photos, and other sentimental items that will help your kids remember their old home and friends.

  • Book an extra set of hands: For families with young kids, book a Sidekick to entertain your kiddos while you get the packing done (or oversee it). Young kids can unpack a box faster than you can pack it sometimes, so get the help you need. If GetSidekicks isn't at your duty station, VOTE now for us to add it to our launch list. Go here to vote with $1.

During the Move

  • Pack a "Special Box": Many movers offer to let kids pack a box of their favorite toys. Here are some ways to make it special:

  • Decorate the box with markers, stickers, or pictures of their new home.

  • Use a tracker: If you've got a tracker around like a GPS tracker around, have your kid choose which box to put it in, then you can have fun using the tracker's application to see where the box is located as it moves to your next station.

  • Room labels: If your kids are old enough, have them help label the boxes for their rooms. Use colorful markers and stencils to make it fun.

Getting There

Road tripping with kids:

  • Planning for stops: Break up the long journey with fun stops. Look for parks, playgrounds, rest areas with splash pads, or even roadside attractions along the way. With young kids, plan for a stop every hour or two to stretch their legs and burn off energy. It may seem like a lot to stop every hour, but it'll be better experience for all!

  • When to leave: Consider starting your road trip late at night or early in the morning. This way, your kids will hopefully be sleepy and spend more time napping in the car.

Flying with kids:

  • When to book the flights: Red-eye flights can be a good option.

  • What to pack: Pack plenty of snacks, electronic devices loaded with movies and games, and lollipops for takeoff and landing to help with ear pops. Pack a small gift or goodie bag to surprise your kids during the flight and distract them if they get restless. Also consider bringing ear plugs (to offer to those around you who might be trying to sleep!)


At Delivery and After the Move

  • Inventory Bingo: For older kids who enjoy numbers, create a bingo sheet with the box numbers or descriptions of their belongings. Let them mark off squares as boxes are unloaded, making them feel like they're contributing.

  • Help unpack their room: If bingo isn't their thing, let your kids help unpack their room. They can show movers where furniture goes, keep an eye out for their special box, and check off items on their inventory list.

  • Redesign their room: Give your kids some control over their new space. Let them pick out new wall art, bedding, or a rug online beforehand. This can give them something to look forward to during the move.

Day or Two After Activities

Plan some fun activities to help your kids explore their new surroundings. Here are some ideas:

  • Visit a local park or playground.

  • Explore your duty station together, here are some ideas.

  • Check out a children's museum or science center.

  • Grab some ice cream or try a new restaurant.

  • Visit the local library and pick out some new books.

  • If your new location is near a beach or lake, spend some time playing in the water.

  • Start building your squad of caregivers with GetSidekicks. GetSidekicks enables military parents in need of child care to find and book military-connected babysitters.

By involving your kids in the PCS process and giving them some control over their new environment, you can help them adjust to the move and make their new house feel like home.

If you happen to be PCSing to any of these locations, GetSidekicks has some ideas on things to do!

If GetSidekicks isn't at your next duty station, VOTE now for us to add it to our launch list. Go here to vote with $1.

PCS Like A Pro Google Drive of Resources (includes a bingo sheet) - PCS LIKE A PRO - FREE RESOURCES - Google Drive

Kids PCS Binder - Kids PCS Binder | PCS Like A Pro Use code SIDEKICKS for 50% off

BoxOps - Meg's recommended box labels, also Military Spouse Owned - BoxOps - Etsy


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