The support system of a military family is often those who pack up and move together. Home is wherever they are--but it doesn't always feel that way at first! Whether in the middle of a first military move or with five or six already on the books, it's always a good time to start crafting rituals that will help any place feel like home.
Create move-in rituals. Move-in rituals help create a settled feel in a new place and remind you that even though the familiar is left behind, those who matter most are still with you. Create a move-in ritual that connects your family. This might mean setting the kids' rooms up first so that they're able to start getting settled in, planting flowers in a garden outside the new home together, or leaving the boxes and the chaos behind to visit a local ice cream shop your first night in a new city. Design rituals that will remind everyone that while the places may change, you're all in this together.
Create daily rituals. What is it that creates a sense of family connection? As a couple without children, it could be as simple as a walk together each evening or a ritual of going out to eat together on a certain night of the week. All families, large or small, benefit from having dinner together around the kitchen table. There, the experiences and events of the day can be shared, laughs had and company enjoyed. Cuddle up with the kids--even older ones--and read bedtime stories every night. These familiar rituals will help create a sense of grounding and home wherever the military may send you.
Maintain familiar holiday rituals. Does your extended family get together and go cut down a tree at Christmas time? Is there a special recipe that Grandma only makes at Thanksgiving? Even if getting "home" for the holidays is out of reach on a particular year, bringing a small taste of home to a new duty station is a very real possiblity. It can help ground and connect both adults and children to a far away place full of loved ones. From having a backyard barbecue on the Fourth of July to a special ritual that spouses share on Valentine's Day, ensuring the celebration with rituals big and small is the perfect way to create a sense of continuity between duty stations. Even if a service member is gone on deployment, try to maintain these simple rituals for yourself and your kids. Look for ways to span the distance and bring yourselves together as a family no matter the separation.
Do something together as a family. Military kids are resilient, strong, and tough, but they can absolutely be affected by frequent moves and the feeling that they're "starting over." Try instituting something that they can look forward to each week: a family brunch every Saturday, a family movie night on Thursday, or a ritual of searching until you find the best burger place in town, then visiting it once a week or once a month. These simple rituals are also easy for one spouse to maintain when the other is deployed and help the kids settle back into a routine even when one parent is gone.
Little rituals go a long way when you've just moved to a new neighborhood. Keep in mind, as the PCS unfolds, that the most important people are the ones riding in the car. We know the challenges of PCS and want every military family to remember Relobase is here to help. On and off base.