As I write this, it’s hard to think back now because so much of this time was a blur of frantic activity. It was hard to relive all of the times I thought to myself, “ I wish I’d known this sooner.”
- I wish I had budgeted and saved for our food during the move. Dividing each day’s meal budget in its own envelope would have made saving more productive. Planning healthier snacks and purchasing water from the grocery store instead of at a gas station would have saved us more money. You’d think this would go without saying but I totally forgot it in all the rush. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere. Something about it’s better to be prepared…
- I should have done better research on traveling with pets. The way our pets traveled was NOT SAFE, and I’d never do that again. Sure they were comfortable and fed, but they weren’t properly constrained. Researching dog parks and/or rest stops along the way would have been better than stopping on a whim. They still needed attention and exercise. ‘Mom award of the year’ right here. I recently wrote a post about how to do it better.
- I wish I’d taken more photos in order to document the happy moments! How about the crazed 5 am look when we were drinking gas station coffee (sludge). Because we drove separately, those sleepy slightly manic mornings were really all we had. Evenings don’t count. We snuggled the babies then crashed. Hard. So be snap happy! Even though it was stressful at the time, it would be fun to look back through pictures of our big adventure.
- I wish we would have looked into private healthcare BEFORE we transitioned. I’ve been without healthcare for three years because it’s too expensive through the job Eric has. He also chose to use the VA health care system. In my opinion, it is terribly flawed. I have yet to find a program to help spouses transition from Tricare into civilian health. My best advice would be to not rely on the health care from your or your spouse’s new job; usually there is a probationary period before it can take effect. My husband’s was a year. Plan for this!
- Expect your spouse to second guess themselves. Even if they went through the transition assistance program. This part of their lives, even if you’ve been dreaming about it or planning for it for a long time, is going to be hard on them emotionally. The very essence of their training makes what they are doing hard for them. Eric constantly second guessed himself and had a hard time making simple decisions since most of them impacted our family. They were huge decisions and one wrong move could take us years to recover from. You may or may not need to be the rock. The best thing I did was extend our communication; I started telling him more about what was on my mind and what my stressors were. It also helped us establish a better communication network and he started to tell me what HE was thinking. It really strengthened our marriage.
- I have a vivid imagination, I’m a dreamer. I have always been this way. In my head, I play out all the scenarios. I can’t help myself. This made moving difficult for me. So many emotions, but mostly, I let myself day dream about our new life. The perfect house, the fence, and the yard. When reality was harsher than my dreams, it was like a slap in the face. Plan for this. Plan, plan, and plan again. When we moved, we knew Eric’s salary and we knew that it was way less than we had now. Honestly, we had NO IDEA how that would translate into real world applications. Make sure you research the cost of living in your new location. Call the Better Business Bureau and get information on businesses in the area, housing costs, taxes, etc. Dream but Plan! You need to be ready for everything. Life is harsh, but there is beauty. Go find it.
- If you’re moving yourself, locate boxes. They are expensive and hard to come by. If you’re letting the military move your stuff, you can ignore this part. If you are trying to make some money by moving yourself, please pay attention. Do NOT, under any circumstances, get your boxes from the commissary or the grocery store. You don’t need to troll craigslist or hunt through recycling. First store you need to stop at is Eddie Bauer. Most stores get shipments three or four times a week so you may need to go back a few times. All of the boxes are the same size but they are double corrugated. They are perfect for clothes, linens and light toys. They are huge so don’t fill them too full. Next store is Bath and Body Works. Body care comes in a variety of boxes, but because of the weight, they have to have extra support. You can get hundreds of boxes in one day in all sizes. Go several times. You don’t want to start shoving things in boxes because you’re afraid you’ll run out of boxes. More is better.
- There are many apps and programs available for moving and everything that goes with it. I wish I’d had access to those. They range from checklists to help with packing, apps to find houses to rent or buy, some will help you keep track of address changes, lists of moving companies and help with job relocation. Many moving companies have their own apps to help you streamline the whole process. I have so many bookmarked for the next time we move. It’s amazing that there are so many little things that are easy to overlook.
- We were both concentrating so hard on Eric finding a job that mine really fell by the way side. If you have your own business, make time each day to at least interact with your clients or social media followers. You can always schedule your Facebook and/or blog posts ahead of time. I’d schedule them for several months at a time. I also had a retail job. If I had thought it through, I would have contacted the stores in our new location and told them I was moving. Even though I didn’t know what city we would be moving to, I could have kept in contact with the company and possibly have had a job waiting for me. Instead, I spent months job searching. I know this mostly goes without saying, but these things are the easiest to forget. Take time out for yourself. Make time. If I could go back in time and tell myself this advice, I could have saved myself from extra stress.
- With today’s variety of social media, you’d think it would be easy to make new friends in a new location. Easier said than done. I would suggest using MeetUp.com. They have various categories such as jogging, gardening, and photo groups. Like many other things, I put making new friends on the back burner. While I eventually met people at work, it was hard to connect in the beginning. Thankfully, our downstairs neighbors are fabulous! We got lucky with that one. My best advice is to join meetup.com and join a group or two. If you have kids, maybe join a stroller exercise group, MOPS, or look into story time at the local library.
Initially, I thought this would be a simple post to write. It definitely makes me think back to all of the stress that was going on in our lives during our transition. Moving is stressful enough and doing it as a civilian is vastly different than a PCS. No matter what path you are, on I wish you luck.
Happy Moving Season!