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    7 Strategies to Keep Your Cool During a Holiday PCS

    It happens to military families every year: the dreaded holiday PCS.

    Moving over Thanksgiving or Christmas can be one of the scariest things you hear during your time with the military!


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    Not only do you have to coordinate celebrating the holidays, but now you have to coordinate a move, too. It’s all too easy to lose your cool during this time of year, when expectations are running higher than usual. Below are some strategies to help you maintain your peace during this transition, straight from classic holiday movies!

    Have a Backup Plan

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    You may have the holidays planned down to the minute in order to accommodate your big move. But it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan. In case the turkey goes up in flames (like it did for Scott Calvin in The Santa Clause) or something else dramatic happens, having a Plan B will reduce your stress and the need to develop an entirely new plan at the last minute.

    Keep Your Expectations In Check

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    Here’s your reality: You’re PCS’ing over the holidays...one of the worst times to move. Something is bound to go wrong between the weather, the change of schedules, the traveling and trying to celebrate with loved ones. But losing your cool when your plans get messed up like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation isn’t going to benefit you or your family. Before the movers even arrive, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That way, when all does go wrong, you’ll expect it and have a plan to deal with it.

    Make a “Home” Wherever You Go

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    Just like when Buddy the Elf transformed the toy store and his family’s apartment into a winter wonderland, you too can you make your surroundings feel like home. Lugging your tree in your car isn’t necessary! Turn on some Christmas music or have a Christmas movie playing in the background, bring one of your favorite blankets to snuggle with, buy an air freshener wall plug with a holiday scent to make your hotel room smell like Christmas, or get a collapsible advent calendar to help the family keep track of the days until Christmas. There’s lots you can do you bring the spirit of Christmas with you!

    Pack the Right Clothing

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    This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re PCS’ing from somewhere warm to somewhere much colder, follow the lead from the mom in A Christmas Story and bundle your family up! Not only will this make everyone in the family more comfortable, but buying these items in advance will help reduce your financial stress around the holidays.

    Don’t Pack the Grinch

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    We all have moments where we get a little Grinch-y during the holidays. But during a holiday PCS, turning into the Grinch will only serve to exacerbate an already stressful situation. Leave the Grinch packed up with the rest of your holiday decorations; when you find yourself ready to scream, take a step back from your situation and take ten long, slow breaths. 

    Celebrate Your Unique Situation!  

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    Am I joking? I’m telling you to celebrate the fact you don’t get to participate in all of your annual holiday traditions? Yes! This is the one year where your extended family cannot guilt you for striking out on your own and doing your own thing. Just like Kevin McCallister did when he discovered his family “disappeared” in Home Alone, do a little celebrating! Wherever you’re headed, check out some must-see, must-do attractions along the way! Making this holiday PCS fun will relieve your stress and make it memorable for the whole family.


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    As corny as it sounds, if you really, truly believe everything will work out during your holiday PCS, then everything will! Bring your sense of adventure and learn to have a little faith. In the end, you may find everything worked out just the way it was supposed to!

    I hope these ideas help you maintain your peace and joy during your holiday PCS move. And, if nothing else, now you have an awesome movie list for binging in your hotel room!

    Download Overseas PCS Survival Guide




    MILLIE is an online community and digital marketplace that connects members of the military and their families with specialized knowledge and trusted resource providers to remove the stress and anxiety of PCS'ing. Check out MILLIE’s Installation and Neighborhood Guides, our network of Veteran and military spouse Realtors, and Scout, our on-demand task service composed of military spouses.

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