Temporary military lodging isn’t so bad until it starts to feel a little less temporary and a lot more permanent. Then the anticipated feelings of displacement with any normal PCS grow and become far more overwhelming than you thought possible.
But before you hang your head in dread, let’s take a look at a few things you can do to combat that unsettling feeling and survive your stay in temporary lodging.
6 Ideas for Surviving an Extended Stay in Temporary Lodging
1. Keep your routines in place.
I shared in an article for MILLIE that “living in temporary lodging isn’t normal. But your routine can be. Provide consistency for the family by creating a new normal. With the active duty spouse reporting for duty, one thing is sure to look familiar. Aside from that, you can create a routine by setting meal and nap times for little ones.”
But remember, while routine is immeasurably valuable for helping kids transition, venturing out for a few unexpected treats is a great way to make the whole TLF experience a little more fun. It’s all about a balance (but that goes for everything in life)!
If cooking is a big part of your normal routine, then cut back on eating out and get creative about preparing your meals!
“While staying at TLF or hotels, we often purchase simple and easy to prepare foods at local grocery stores that can be grilled at a nearby park grill hut or a disposable hibachi grill. It’s not much different than what we do when we’re camping. We even eat outside if the weather’s agreeable.” — Jennifer Lambert A Sacred Balance
3. Get to know the area...and stay busy!
Embrace the fact that you don’t have a house to settle into, and explore the area around you instead. Because, guess what? When those movers show up with everything you own, you’ll be busy unpacking, sorting, and setting up your new home.
Need some ideas? Try these!
- Be tourists. Google the popular spots in town and go check them out!
- Eat at local restaurants. Dine-in to get a taste of the local culture.
- Volunteer in the community. Get personal with the locals and volunteer your time out in town.
- Go sit somewhere. Let conversations come up organically or sit on your computer and just feel part of the local crowd. Whether that means sipping coffee at a local shop or letting your kids wear themselves out at the playground.
Staying busy doesn't mean breaking the bank! While there are plenty of adventures to spend your money on, you can find entertainment in the free or inexpensive things as well.
“I always made sure we had something to do, somewhere to go, or something to see...We actually took up Geocaching since it's a free, fun activity and let us explore whatever area we're in”. — Jessica Lynn Writes
Explore the military amenities at your new duty station. Find out if the base has a bowling alley, library, pool, or movie theater.
4. Suppress the urge to shop.
When you’re looking around a space that houses very few things you own, it’s tempting to go out and buy some filler items while waiting on your household goods to arrive. Try not to. While it’s certainly okay (and a good idea) to buy some games for the family to play, it’s not wise to fill a toy box.
When the movers show up with all of your stuff, the things that you haven’t seen in weeks (or months) will feel new again. Your kids will find a renewed sense of excitement with toys that seemed otherwise forgotten. Then, if they get bored or outgrow them, you can find them a new home and get something new for your kids.
Need another reason? Your budget. Why spend money on unnecessary things when you can spend it on experiences while you explore your new duty station?
5. Keep it simple.
There’s nothing quite like “camping” out to simplify life. Busyness is somehow connected to our stuff. And once it’s gone there’s oftentimes a feeling of freedom and an ability to unplug a little.
Embrace the initial boredom stage as your kids adjust to having less and help them find ways to entertain themselves. Without the responsibilities involved with having a home to maintain, you can afford the time to go for walks. Slow down.
6. No living out of suitcases!
Even though you’ll have to pack it up again to move to your more permanent home, unpack your most used items.
Rummaging through your bag to find everyday things leads to frustration. Instead, find a home for your clothes, toiletries, and other items you use regularly. The inconvenience of repacking your hung-up clothing will outweigh the headache caused by the time spent digging for your underwear!
Take a deep breath as you wait to make the final step of your PCS and move into your new home. Though it’s no one’s picture of the perfect PCS, there are some good things that can come of temporary lodging (as long as you learn to embrace the unique freedom associated with it)!
Get more tips in our post, 7 Simple Tips for Coping with a Long-Term Stay in Temporary Lodging.