Moving to a new assignment means it’s time to say goodbye to your comfortable house and familiar belongings and head to the base or local hotel. It means living out of suitcases for a few days (if you’re lucky) or even a few weeks or months.
Moving into a hotel or temporary housing situation can take a lot of planning in order to live comfortably without your entire household goods for that period of time. You have to be strategic, especially with kids in tow … even more so when they are really little.
Planning a day at the beach feels like it requires almost the entire house to be packed. Imagine what packing for a month-long hotel stay requires. What do you keep out of the main household goods shipment? What toys do you pack or give away and what clothes do you bring?
These questions can induce the kind of anxiety that keeps me up at night planning and mentally rearranging the suitcases.
Yet, despite all of the stress and planning associated with an upcoming permanent change of station (PCS) and extended hotel stay, this time, I am actually approaching it with a sense of adventure and more than a bit of relief. Here’s why:
- Finally getting out of our house will feel like a bit of a break from the circus. In a small European house with a high energy 3-year-old, an 11-month-old on the verge of walking, and three dogs, the house can feel like a circus under the best of circumstances. Add in the flurry of cleaning, sorting, and selling of belongings that an impending PCS seems to inspire in me, and I’m ready for a simpler existence, even if for a short time. Seriously, why do I always wait until the movers are RIGHT outside the door to decide it’s time to clean the closets?!
- Limited cooking. Because we will be limited to a small stovetop oven and microwave, the meals I will be preparing for the family DO NOT have to be elaborate and fancy. It’s totally OK to rely on boxed macaroni and cheese and hot dogs (cue cheers from the toddler!) and other simple meals. It doesn’t have to be fattening or unhealthy, but it does need to be easy. We can have fruit, cheese and bread for dinner. We can have sandwiches and salads, and it’s just fine. We may eat on a blanket in the living room or at the playground outside. The dinner rules are a bit relaxed, and it can feel like a holiday for everyone.
- Novelty. The beds are new. The chair and blanket forts are different. Heck, even racing mom to the laundry room to check on the clothes can be fun and exciting for a 3-year old. The hotel stay adds a little bit of a different vibe to the the family routine … and lasts just about long enough to cover the stay.
- Cleaning. Or, really, the lack thereof that I will be doing. Now, of course, this is within reason. We are still a family of four in a small space. Messes will be made. Things will be spilled. Dishes will need to be washed and clothes folded. There will still be sticky, unidentifiable things found on the floor. BUT, I don’t have to make the beds, vacuum the floors and clean the toilets. Sounds like a win to me!
- Routine. For the most part, our daily routine continues. We get up, attempt to get the children fed, dressed and our day started. But without the comforts of home and our collection of toys, things are a bit different. We will probably watch a bit more television; we may take more walks to the playground; and, in general, it seems like we don’t have as many places to be or feel the need to get there RIGHT NOW! Plus there are always the friends we’ve made along the way who also are on the way out and staying in lodging at the same time, as well as new families arriving to entertain us.
6. We will have a break from the fur babies. While I absolutely love our dogs — we seem to acquire more every year — it is also nice to have less responsibility for awhile, especially with two small children underfoot. For this move, we will have our three girls at a caretaker’s home while we pack and clean our rental house and during our hotel stay. It’s wonderful because we know they are being loved on and treated well, but we don’t have the added stress of trying to keep them happy and calm during the chaos. There also is the added benefit of no middle of the night barking at the neighbor’s cat, no early morning whining at the door (that’s reserved for the toddler now), no having to take them for walks, and no tripping on our biggest dog as she decides to lay in the exact spot I need to be EVERY time.
The hotel honeymoon phase, of course, doesn’t last forever. Before long, we will all be ready for our own space. We will start missing the dogs, tempers will begin to fray, and I know I will long for a normal routine for the kids and myself. While eventually the romance of a long-term hotel stay wears off, for now, we are full of optimism and excitement for the next adventure. And when the inconveniences start to get too frustrating, I will always have the pictures of our new house and all my Pinterest decoration pages to keep me going.
Here’s hoping you find a way to embrace the hotel time this PCS season.