Helpful ways to break the PCS news to your kids

Helpful ways to break the PCS news to your kids

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Korea

Moving is second-nature for military families. Right when you get settled, BAM! Orders drop, the packers invade and suddenly your house looks more like a box warehouse. It can be hard for even the most seasoned veteran. When you add kids into the mix, it can become chaos personified — especially when you have one child who loves the adventure of moving, and one that would be happy planting roots and never relocate again.

When it comes to PCSing with kids, there are a million tips out there: make it a game, create a binder, communicate, watch out for temper tantrums, and so on. But how do you actually break the news to them? How do you re-break the news to them once the original orders have been changed? After almost 17 years, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

1. Let them know when you know. For those who love to have everything in order, this can be a little difficult. However, we’ve found that when we tell our children as soon as possible, we can work through all of the emotions together. It also gives them more time to process the news, ask questions and research their new home before you actually get there.

2. Prep them in advance. If you’re lucky enough to have a relatively predictable PCS cycle, you can start dropping hints that there may be an impending move. Although you may not have received official notification, it can help soften the blow a little before it comes. Our kids usually know the length of time for each assignment, so they know that it’s not our forever place just yet.

3. Make it fun. Each time we receive an assignment notification, we play 20 questions with each other. The first time we played it, it took our kids about 15 questions before they correctly guessed our next location. I’ll admit I have just as much fun with it as they do.

4. When things change, let them know. These can be hard, especially when you’ve told them that there would be no moving and then surprise! You’re moving two months later. This happened to us recently, and we told our kids as soon as we knew. Although it was hard, they were able to use their remaining time to have as much fun as possible with their friends.

5. Ben and Jerry’s won’t hurt. When we had to tell our daughter that we would be moving sooner than expected, we knew it was going to break her heart. Thankfully, I loaded up the freezer with all of our favorite Ben and Jerry’s flavors. Even though it was a difficult conversation, we were able to drown the inevitable tears in tubs of cookie dough ice cream.

Breaking the moving news to your kids can be hard and almost scary, depending on how emotional your kids are. Just be honest with them and let them know that you’re there and understand what they’re going through — because you are, too.

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