If there is one thing that brand new military moms have in common with those who have lived this life for over 20 years, it’s the stress of a PCS. There’s just something about moving with children that makes normal stress levels skyrocket. Even the most well-planned moves seem to spiral out of control.
This has been true several times for Army spouse, Charlene Wilde. As a spouse, mother of two, dog owner, and career woman, Wilde has moved seven times in her 15 years as a military spouse. As a family, they were lucky enough to have two overseas assignments in England and Korea. She currently serves as an Assistant Secretary at American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA) and SpouseLink contributor, and she has lots of experience and some great PCS stories to share.
Wilde shared some of her PCS stories — some to encourage, some to warn, and some to just laugh about. Here they are.
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Daily Mom Military (DMM): First thing’s first — are you a DITY person or a “do it for me” person?
Charlene Wilde (CW): We did one DITY, and it was a nightmare! We were moving from Fort Lewis [Washington] to Fort Leonard Wood [Missouri], and we thought we would have an adventure while saving money. We took 30 days; we camped along the way, and we will never do it again. Weighing the truck was such a disaster.
DMM: Do you have the movers unpack?
CW: Yes, but only so they’ll take the boxes. I have them unpack the dishes, bedding, and sheets so we can live in the house comfortably that night. And then the boxes are gone!
DMM: What is your one piece of advice for a family getting ready to PCS?
CW: Take as much time as you can to research and plan ahead. Plan a budget, look at your finances, try to save money on the move if possible. I grew up military, and my parents always made a move an adventure, and I like to do that for my kids too. We find things we want to explore along the way and when we get there to help make the transition easier.
DMM: And, what is one thing you wish someone had told you before your first move?
CW: I really wish someone had told me to make sure everything was thoroughly cleaned. And that I really needed to watch the packers, both as they pack and as they label. “Kitchen” is not sufficient labeling. And, they packed the trash in the trash can. Yuck.
DMM: You mentioned you spent time overseas, so I’m guessing one of those was your favorite duty station?
CW: Yes! Living in Salsbury, England was my favorite. My husband was an exchange officer, and we were able to live on their installation in southern England. It was so different! Their installation was pretty remote; it only had housing, no other facilities. We were essentially part of the UK Army for two-and-a-half years. The boys went to English prep school, there were formals and balls every quarter; it was almost like we went back in time with all of the traditions they still observed.
DMM: OK, here’s the most difficult question. Describe your worst move ever in one sentence.
CW: Moving from England to Korea with full household goods, a dog, two kids, and no husband!
DMM: Ah! Expand on that a little, please.
CW: My husband went ahead of us, so I had to handle the pack out. Unfortunately, he also forgot to clean out his smoker before he left. Luckily, my awesome neighbors came to my rescue and helped me clean it out. It really does take a village.
DMM: So, as you look forward to retirement and potential moves as a civilian, will you move yourself, or will you hire someone?
CW: I initially thought we could do it ourselves. We just moved last year, with no military assistance, because our landlord wanted to sell. It was exactly 0.8 miles down the road, so we started doing it ourselves. It was the worst decision! We then hired movers and paid by the hour. It was crazy, but totally worth it to have them do the heavy lifting. So, in the future, we will not be doing it all alone again!
So, dearest military mom, as you read through this, hopefully you laughed, grimaced, and nodded your head in agreement throughout the many adventures Charlene explained. You see, whether this is your first move or your 15th, you will still learn something. Hang on. This is the best ride ever!
Photo Credits: Christina Carter | Charlene Wilde