September 2, 2016

Five days after I became a military spouse, I found myself PCSing to Hawaii. It was a strange feeling, because I was far from home for the first time in my life, but I was also loving the adventure. Another military spouse gave me advice that I will always remember:

We were talking about how hard it is to move around all of the time. She told me that you can always find more good things than bad no matter where the military sends you. It’s all about your outlook, she said.

I’ve come to realize that this can be applied to most of the situations the military throws at us. Having a positive outlook and always trying to find more good things than bad things has helped me so much — especially when it comes to PCSing.

PCSing is hard and stressful. It’s a whirlwind of emotions that you can’t fully explain. There are tons of checklists and things to remember to do. There are things you’re supposed to do that no one tells you about. There’s the movers and the cleaning and the goodbyes and the house hunting and the starting all over. I cry on every pack out day.

I’m wrapping up my third PCS in three years. I’ve come to realize that there are some truly amazing parts to PCSing, things that I love and look forward time every time we PCS.

As hard as PCSing is, there are some things that I have learned to love about it. Who’s with me?


I love the possibilities. Will we stay in where we are? Will we go closer to home? Will we move somewhere we’ve never been before? What kind of house will we get? Although we obviously have to go wherever the military tells us, I like daydreaming about where we will go next.

I love the purging. Our movers finally came this week! So, I’m currently unpacking Everything. We. Own. When you are unpacking, you have to go through every single item you have. You have to find a place for it, discard it, or give it away. I try to purge before we move, but I’ve found that it makes more sense to do when you are unpacking. I realized that I would never go through that kind of intense purging unless I was moving.

I am the kind of person who shoves papers into a junk drawer and only cleans out that junk drawer when it’s time to move. So, a PCS every two-three years is pretty much essential for me. Every time we move, I’m forced to clean out those drawers and get rid of things we don’t need anymore or have space for in our new home. I have to be ready to live in a small one bedroom apartment or a big house on base.

I’ve only just barely started unpacking, but I’ve already got 3 boxes ready to go to goodwill. Even after three moves, I never even knew I owned some of the stuff I’m getting rid of. Some of the things I forgot I had so I know I don’t need them anymore.

I love the traveling. Usually, Nick gets some time off in between commands. It’s not always guaranteed, but he usually can take time off between checking out of his old job and starting his new job. We usually take a short trip together and then spend time with family. Because our families are spread out in New York and California, we need a lot of time to be able to see everyone. I’ve come to equate PCSing with family time, which has made it lot more exciting to me. This time, we went to New York and California and even squeezed in a short trip for just the two of us.

I love any excuse to go out to eat and explore. There is always time after the movers come to pack up our stuff that we are in our house with limited kitchen supplies. That’s when I go back to visit all of my favorite places to eat one last time.

And when we get to our new base, we usually have a short period of time without our stuff. I love to use that time to explore. I find my new favorite coffee shop and my new favorite pizza place. Eating out does get old, and by the time the movers get here, I’m ready to start cooking again. But, I have come to look forward to that transitional time as the time that I start to do some exploring. It helps me start feeling at home in my new city.

I love the adventure. PCSing is always an adventure. Whether you are road tripping to a new base, buying a home for the first time, or using the time in between commands to travel, I’ve learned that there is always something to love. There is always a new adventure to be had. I love that military life never gets boring.

I love a fresh start. As I write this, I’m surrounded by boxes and packing paper. My kitchen items are sprawled all over as I try to get organized.

And I love it all. It’s chaotic and messy and crazy and overwhelming, but I love having a fresh start. I love having a brand new place to live, to fill with memories and to organize exactly how I want it. I love going out and making new friends. I love seeing Nick excited about his new job. I love figuring out who I am all over again.

Current State of PCS:

This PCS has been the least stressful one we’ve ever had. Maybe it’s because I have had so much practice in such a short period of time. I remember exactly what to do and what to expect.

But I think that it’s largely due to the fact that I’ve found things I love about PCSing. I look forward to the things we only do when we PCS.

I honestly think Nick’s favorite part is growing his beard. Not having to shave for a few weeks is probably his favorite thing ever.

As I like to lovingly point out to my husband several times per day, every time we move, moving is one of the most stressful events you can go through in life. And lucky military families get to do this every few years.

So why not look on the bright side of things? I’ve learned that it helps a lot during this stressful time. I think we need to remind ourselves every now and then what an awesome adventure PCSing can be. Looking for the good can do wonders for our sanity and for helping ease the transition.

And I’ve found that having this attitude about most things related to the military – and life – makes it a lot more fun.

What do you like about PCSing? Or moving in general? Have I changed your mind about it?

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20 responses to “How I learned to love PCSing.”

  1. Jenn says:

    Needed this! Yesterday was our pack out day and I literally thought I was going to lose my shit, haha! I’m excited to get to Drum but these 4 days of in-between are shaping up to be a bit stressful! I think Josh’s favorite part of being off has been not shaving, as well!

    • Carolann says:

      I’m so glad this helped you. I submitted this to a military spouse website a few months ago, but they didn’t pick it up, so I just randomly decided to post it today. Pack out day seriously is the hardest. Just take it one day at a time and enjoy this crazy adventure. I’ve learned that each PCS is a little different and while I feel like we settled in Connecticut really quickly, I’m still working on unpacking and getting into a routine here now. I never know how it’s going to go. Enjoy it and try not to stress!

  2. Audrey says:

    You have such a great outlook on moving and change. That’s really awesome. I’m know it’s 100% not the same thing, but when I’d move around after each year of college I always got the chance to reorganize and purge things- it was the best feeling!

    • Carolann says:

      It is not all that different! Except that you usually don’t get to decide where you’re moving when you’re a military family! I actually struggled with calling this post “How I learned to love moving around all the time,” or “How I learned to love PCSing.” It’s an awesome adventure. I recently realized that while everyone does need a good venting session now and then, complaining and thinking about how much things suck don’t actually make things better. Only looking on the bright side and seeking out the good can do that, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do.

  3. I don’t know how y’all do it all the time! We moved into a different house in our neighborhood and we were really stressed, but not nearly as far away as military families go sometimes or as quickly too. I’m glad that there are things that you do like about it, and that’s such great advice that your friend gave you. Finding the positive is sometimes the only way that you can get through some more stressful times.

    • Carolann says:

      Moving is stressful whether you are moving across the town or across the ocean. It really is one of the most stressful things you can go through. I actually struggled with calling this post “How I learned to love moving around all the time,” or “How I learned to love PCSing.”

      Right now I’m dealing with all of the unpacking which is really messy with boxes everywhere. It’s hard because I have no idea where to put anything or where anything is. But it’s an awesome change to get organized and get rid of things I don’t need. I’ve been trying to look for the good wherever I can and so far it usually works :))

  4. Rachel G says:

    As a kid who grew up making a number of major moves–it almost feels weird to live in the same place for more than a few years. We’ve lived in 3 countries since getting married, but we’re hoping to stay in this country for a good long time, and I’m not sure I really know how to settle down all that well. 😛 Our family is spread out, too. Angel had family in California, Arizona, and Texas. I have family in Michigan, Illinois, and Wyoming. We haven’t been back to the USA in over two years and I’m not entirely sure how we will work it out to see everybody when we do go back for a visit!

    • Carolann says:

      Wow! Are you planning to go back for a visit any time soon? Nick’s family is in California and mine is in New York, which always makes for interesting trips back home. I can’t imagine what that would be like to be outside the US for so long, but it must be such an amazing experience. I love moving around and now that I’ve been doing it for a few years, I don’t want to settle down anywhere just yet. I do think that by the time Nick retires from the military I will be ready to settle down, but I’m not there yet. I love following along your adventures and I think you and Angel are pretty awesome.

  5. Seriously Carolann, I think you should write a motivational book or become a life coach – your optimism and positive thinking is so admirable, time and again no matter what seems to come your way! It’s really inspiring 🙂

    • Carolann says:

      Wow thanks! Your comment just totally made my day. I’m always working on it but I really try to look at it as a glass half full — or a glass that can easily be refilled!

  6. Emma says:

    Changing our outlook on life can be so, so important on how we see things!

    • Carolann says:

      I really think that changing your outlook can make a lot of things a lot better. Sometimes we have to work on it but with moving on to new adventures, there are so many awesome things to look forward to!

  7. Jen says:

    I absolutely love PCS’ing! I love the idea of moving to a new place and meeting new people. I love the chaos of it all, finding a new place to live and just embrace the adventure. I handle everything for our moves and I really believe that has helped me enjoy it so much. Kyle gives me full control and that is pretty amazing to me. I am excited to PCS again next summer. 🙂

    • Carolann says:

      I love the way you think! It’s such a fun adventure. Right now we are unpacking and it’s crazy and messy and chaotic but I love it. Getting to start fresh and being able to set up a brand new apartment exactly how we want it is so much fun. Do you know where you’re going next?

      • Jen says:

        It is definitely a fun adventure! 🙂 We should be moving to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in June. 🙂

        • Carolann says:

          Oh awesome! Good luck with everything. PCSing is such a fun adventure. Moving around is one of the reasons why my husband and I decided he should stay in the military. So far we’ve only lived in two places, but we have many many years left!

          • Jen says:

            Thanks so much!! Kansas will be our 5th state we have lived in. We love the military life and have no plans to leave it just yet. Almost 10 years in and it’s still amazingly fun!

  8. […] How I learned to love PCSing. […]

  9. Malia says:

    At last, I can finally go through your blog! But I must say you have one of the best views on PCSing. And I’m sure that one PCS you had, not much can get worse than that. We were pretty happy with our recent PCS, it went by really smooth and our pack out from Hawai’i was great.

    I hope the boat is treating you both well! And hope you’re doing amazing!

    • Carolann says:

      Hey Malia! Thanks so much stopping by! This PCS to Hawaii was great, and I was so happy. We got to go on vacation before we got here, and everything went smoothly once we got to Hawaii. I’m so glad to hear that yours went well too. Hope you’re loving DC, your new puppy, and learning Slovenian! You have so many awesome things happening and I’m excited to follow along!

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