Little adorable monsters who thrive on routine, familiarity, and consistency just don’t make great PCS companions. While I myself have offered tips for PCSing with children, read many of the same type of blogs, and have moved 7 times now in 11 years – 5 of which have been with children, I have never –until now- PCSed with a 2 year old. It’s a whole new beast. Seriously, in my utter exhaustion only 6 days into our 4 week transition to our new duty station, I make no attempts to offer advice. I have no wise words on how to make the best of it, I can barely say PCS without needing a nap (which wouldn’t ever happen anyway because why would my 2 year old need to nap when there are hotel hallways to be explored).
PCSing with a toddler does not feel like a simple Permanent Change of Station but more like I Probably Can’t Survive. How has my sleeping-through- the-night, good-natured toddler turned into a blue eyed, hotel night shrieking banshee? My nightly self-commentary has been going something like this: “Sweetie, I know we’ve slept in 4 different places in the past week. Get it together kid, lay down and go to sleep. It’s 4am, I don’t care what time zone we are in, yes we have been through three of them but everyone in the U.S. is sleeping somewhere, so please for the sake of mommy’s sanity and ability to keep her big girl panties on, please go to sleep.”
Ok. Maybe I’ve lied. I am not this patient at 4am in the morning but who wants to admit to anything less, right? In all honesty, I envy my toddler’s ability to unabashedly show his emotions, his frustrations with our transition and his desire to control the world around him because really, I feel exactly the same way.
Here are 10 things that I have learned on our journey so far…
- That silly putty fits conveniently into tiny ear canals.
- Brand new white socks can quickly be turned into sock puppets with the help of a pink highlighter.
- A toddler can indeed consume a whole bag of dried mango as you’ve thoughtlessly fallen asleep.
- Anyplace that seems like a nice place to let your kid out to stretch for a few minutes is probably also the place where 10,000 previously visiting dog owners thought the same thing.
- The nighttime shrieking banshee is not a myth. They exist in full force during daylight hours as well. My only piece of advice: Blue M&M’s from trail mix are their (shrieking banshee’s) Kryptonite.
- No matter how long the drive, car rides are SO much less stressful than plane rides. No flight attendants to give you glaring looks. No mean strangers to decline your invitation to trade seats so you can sit with your two children as you travel alone, and no TSA agents to deal with (see #8). While we are mentioning air travel, please, please, please, don’t forget to pack yourself some chocolate. You can have all the toys and snacks in the world packed for your kids but when those all fail in the first 14 minutes after you’ve boarded and have yet to take off – you are going to need a treat for yourself.
- Toddlers won’t fall out on you when you are walking empty handed. No, they will trot along happily, genteelly wave hello to unsuspecting strangers and turn to blow you kisses with sweet smiles. Then the moment you’ve got 5 pieces of luggage, hot coffee and seventeen pieces of electronic entertainment under your arm – that is the moment that their world becomes unraveled.
- TSA agents need “parents traveling with toddlers” sensitivity training. I am not sure when TSA deemed 14 toddler food pouches as suspicious, but if you condescendingly ask me why I have 14 toddler food pouches, and that it appears suspicious, you’d better be able to handle the answer you’ve asked for. Defensive posturing and GO: “I am traveling alone, on two 2 hour flights with a 4 hour layover in Denver as we move from California from Virginia. We will be traveling for a total of 3 weeks which includes today’s air travel and then 2 days of driving until we reach our final destination and are reunited with my husband who is driving 3,000 miles with the dog to meet us at our new home.” End rant.
- DVDs make great car Frisbees (not safe but you can’t explain that to a 2 year old).
- Bubbles may make your toddler happy on an airplane but generally other passengers don’t find it as endearing. Your choice, happy air travelers of United Airways: Bubbles or the Banshee? You choose.
Erica is Call Dibs’ Brand Manager, full time Army wife, and mom of two boys (8 years and 3 years). Erica is an Army spouse of 12 years and has been stationed at Fort Rucker; Germany; Fort Riley; Fort Polk; NPS Monterey, CA; Fort Lee, VA and headed back to Rucker this summer. That’s 8 PCS moves in 12 years. She is an experienced Child Development Specialist and has worked with Army families for ten years through Family Readiness Groups and Army Child, Youth, and School Services. In Erica’s free (or not so free) time she is a talented sleuther and an expert Do It Yourselfer!