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Being a military family is not an easy thing. Every few years (usually 2-4) you must pack up your entire household and move to another location. This is hard on the family, but with a sense of humor and some preparation, it can be relatively easily gotten through.

On the plus side, if you have children, the military usually tries to make sure that you don't have to move until they finish the school year of wherever you are stationed. Children can have a hard enough time without having to change schools in the middle of the year.

Once you know the wheres and whens of your new duty station, you usually have time to begin to prepare your move. Put the moving date on the calander and as the time draws closer, mark off the days as they pass. Children find this a good way to understand about the move. Also, this time is a great time to begin preparing your household goods for transportation.

The military will have packers come in and pack up your belongings, and the movers will take them to the final destination. But, perhaps you want to go through your things and clear out the clutter or get rid of things you don't use anymore. This is so much easier to do before you move than after. And, it doesn't have to be overwhelming, either. Divide up your house into zones. An example would be: zone A-child #1 bedroom, zone B-child #2 bedroom, zone C-living room, etc. Then, taking one section at a time, begin going through closets, drawers, anything. Sort out outgrown clothes and junk and things that you don't use anymore. This entire process can take a week or even longer, depending on the size of your house. But, it's worth it in the long run.

Before the packers come, it's very important that you sort through and pack what you want and need to take with you. And, it must be clearly marked and put away so that the packers don't pack it up. Every box of stuff they pack is numbered and labeled and once sealed, you can't go back into it to search for things. Things you will need can include clothes, toiletries, books, toys, games, and things for cooking/kitchen articles. You often have to wait at least a week (sometimes several weeks or even months) before you get into a new house at your new location. You will be more comfortable having your own things to cook and clean with and even play with.

Once you have been packed up, the movers have taken your belongings, you have packed kids and maybe pets in the car or cars and are on your way, a sense of humor is essential. Anything can happen when traveling. Always keep doors locked and valuables hidden. Things get stolen all the time (one man I know had his car broken into and all of his military uniforms stolen). Be prepared for long trips, car trouble, whiny kids, bored pets, etc. If you have the time, stop along the way at tourist attractions. A boring trip can have its bright spots when you stop along the way to check out that roadside stand or even the Grand Canyon, depending on where you are moving from and moving to.

Once you arrive at your new destination, it could take a while to get into military housing. Or, if you move out on the economy and rent or buy a house, it could still take a few days to get into it. And, once you have your address, it could still take a week or so for your household goods to arrive at your new home. That is why it's essential to make sure you have packed the right things in your car/cars. Once the movers bring you your household goods, take a deep breath as things are unloaded. It is very common for your things to be scratched or even broken. This is why many military families have inexpensive furniture and things. You can often get reimbursed for broken or damaged items, but it usually is not enough to replace them.

Once you are unpacked and settled, life should begin to turn back to normal. You have survived a military move (and hopefully you were blessed enough to get into housing fast and for your things to have made it without major damage). Someday you will look back on all of these moves and LAUGH (yeah, right). The children will make new friends. You will make new friends. Enjoy learning about the geography of our country!