How to Plan for the Un-Plannable

Image via Flickr/ mbtrama

Change has never been easy for me. I am one of those people who never orders anything different off the menu. I like to find my favorite and stick with it. My husband, however, tries something new each time we dine out and honestly doesn't have a favorite at all. 

Is that bizarre?

I find that bizarre.


Not liking change doesn't really work for military families. It's kind of the only thing you can count on in the military. Things will not stay the same, no matter what. 

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So far, we've lived through three moves, two states, and three deployments, though, never with kids, and we've never had to move very far from our families. Right after our oldest was born, we moved to our current station. Since she was a newborn and basically like a piece of furniture, I don't really count it as “moving with kids.” This time, our littles will be 2 and 5, and we'll be moving far away from our families, who are only two hours from us right now.

All I can say is that I'm grateful that I have a full year to prepare, purge, and procrastinate on readying our belongings for this move to this unknown place, where we may or may not be able to afford to buy a house (based on the amount of housing allowance the military affords for the location), and we may or may not have a yard, and the schools may or may not be good. 

We may or may not need an entirely new wardrobe if we are moving to a northern climate, and we may or may not be able to fit all of our living room furniture into our next house. We may or may not be able to give the kids separate rooms, we may or may not be able to have both of our cars, if we're sent overseas. 

As someone who likes to plan, plan, plan everything down to the tiniest detail, the military gives me hives — all of those unknowns up in the air, taunting me. I would love to be able to research schools, neighborhoods, local housing markets, nearby entertainment for the kids, and a bajillion other things. But I can't. 

What do I do when I know we have a major move coming up, then? Besides panic, stress, and obsess over when my husband will finally call me with our eventual destination, I start paring things down. I clean out closets, give away too-small clothes, unload junk that we said we were going to get fixed, but never did. I go through my pots and pans and donate what I haven't used. I start making decisions as to which pieces of furniture are important enough to put in storage in the event we can't get as big of a house as we have now. 

And in the back of my mind, I secretly cross days off my mental calendar as we grow closer and closer to military retirement; when, one day, our house will be our forever home; when I can shop and hoard and decorate to my heart's content without worrying if the excess will look cluttered at our next spot. 


We are grateful for every opportunity the military has afforded our family, and we are lucky in that we have managed to stay relatively close to our families for close to 10 years. That's not very common. But the thought of one day being in charge of our own futures and living arrangements grows more and more lovely and vibrant each time we have to pack up and move. 

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Until that day comes, though, we will pare down our belongings, prepare for tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, and earthquakes in the event we are moved near a hot zone for disasters, and continue to put one foot in front of the other.

We are together as a family. That's all that matters.

What do you think?

How to Plan for the Un-Plannable

Rachel is a stay-at-home-mom to her 4-year-old daughter, Sydney, and her 18-month-old son, Jackson. Her writing can be found all over the web, mostly detailing her own parenting struggles and triumphs, as well as her life as the military spouse of an active-duty airman. She also writes about her life as as a special needs parent on her blog, Tales From the Plastic Crib, and spends an unnecessary amount of time on Twitter. ... More

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  1. Grace says:

    i’m jealous that you have gotten to be close to family, a happy jealous though. i am writing this preparing myself mentally for yet another military move, to a state even further than the one we are from family, so really no difference because both are super far, the other coast far. and mentally readying myself because housing is so expensive my husband invited his mom to livre with us to care for our 4 children, because he wants me to get a job to afford housing. so yeah that is happening. and my mil comes with a mentally challeneged 7 year old boy- who was never in school until this yeah. i focus on the fact that God is in control, he must think i’m super, and thinking it is new challenges.

    • Rachel Engel says:

      Yep, we’ve been very lucky to be within a 4-hour drive of our families for the last 10 years, especially since our youngest was born with special needs. I would have been lost without them. I wish you so much luck with your move! Everything will work out, because it has to, you know? 🙂

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