Waiting for Household Goods (HHG) to arrive can be its own kind of hell. You are hoping for the best, but always preparing for the worst. Despite a relatively smooth pack out, you can never be sure what you will get on the other end.
Will your grandmother’s china survive? Will the jewelry you forgot to put in your “Do Not Pack” area actually make it back to you? Ahhh…the uncertainty!
And then there is the problem of the kids. How do you keep the kids occupied before all their “stuff” arrives?
With each PCS, I would purchase some new games and toys from the local thrift shop. I wouldn’t introduce these “new to them” toys until we arrived at our new home. There is nothing like a “new” game to keep kids occupied for a good length of the time.
If you are traveling by car to your next duty station, you can bring some of these items with you. Here are a few ideas for keeping the kids busy while sitting in an empty house or apartment waiting on HHG.
- New toys/games: Buy a few “new” things at your local thrift shop. Stick to small games, books, dress-up etc. – nothing too bulky.
- The favorites: Pack and bring with you your kids’ favorite movies, books, puzzles, games, etc.
- Swimsuits: Visit the base swimming pool or a local beach if you are near one.
- Laptop computer: This will keep adults as well the young ones entertained for hours.
- Wii, PlayStation or Xbox: Play games as a family.
- Card games, bingo, and Skip-Bo are all entertaining games that don’t take up a lot of room.
- Bikes: Strap them to the top of your vehicle and use them for getting around on base.
When You Arrive
Temporary housing for up to 30 days is not ideal whether its a hotel room or an empty home in base housing. So you need to get out and explore your new duty station.
- Check for local events, concerts, and festivals to attend. Even after your HHG arrives, its good to take a break and get out of the house.
- Register at the base/post CDC: Some places have a waiting list so its good to do this upon arrival.
- Register for school: While you are there, see if your kids can tour the school. It can soothe raw nerves if they can walk the hallways before the first day.
- Check out the bowling alley: Most posts/bases offer special discounts for families.
- Visit the library: Most libraries offer story time for kids or a kid-friendly hour of reading, songs, and crafts.
- Sign up for MWR classes or other activities: Whether on base or off, you can usually find some fun classes for both the adults and kids in the family. Try a sewing class or cooking class while the kids learn to play an instrument or dance.
- Visit your local park/playground: This is a great place to meet other families and make new friends.
PCSing is always stressful no matter how smoothly it goes or how many times you’ve done it. But with a little pre-planning, you can keep the family occupied until the HHG arrives and everyone gets situated in their new lives, whether at a new job or at a new school.
Lastly, it does help to know you are not alone. So reach out and try to connect to other newly arrived families. And start making those memories that will last a lifetime.