Find the Calm in the Chaos


Embracing the chaos that comes with military life can seem impossible.  Sudden moves, unknown places, last minute changes...the list goes on and on!  In the high-stress atmospheres that these situations create for us as spouses, our children, service members and even our pets can create a feeling of chaos that feels like it will never end; but it is possible to find the calm.  

Even after some years as a military spouse, I struggled with keeping my cool during the unexpected.  Then one day, my four year old asked if I could sit and watch the show, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, with him.  For those who are not familiar with Daniel, he is the main character of the new generation of the Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood franchise and teaches kids the same values and lessons that Fred Rogers did.  This particular episode dealt with Daniel experiencing a new environment while visiting his grandfather.  His lesson was “when things seem strange, find what’s different and what’s the same.”

Lightbulb!  I felt like Daniel was speaking into my soul in that moment.  As military families, we are constantly in new environments or situations we haven’t experienced before.  Finding what is familiar and what is new in our situation is both comforting and exciting! How can spouses implement this simple, yet powerful lesson from a cute little animated tiger?

Find The Base Essentials

One of the most chaotic times a change occurs is when we PCS to a new duty station.  Start by finding what’s the same. Find the installation essentials that you will be making use of regularly such as:the base exchange, commissary, your branch community and family services location, schools, veterinarians, hospitals and clinics, housing offices, and your service member’s duty location.  

Make a Duty Station “Bucket List”

New duty stations bring change, but change can also be exciting!  Explore the area around you, and find what is unique and different about your location.  Create a base “bucket list” of the local things you want to experience before leaving. Some bases are truly once in a lifetime opportunities; embrace them!  Whether this consists of local eats, shops to try, attractions, or cultural traditions to experience, use the differences to create lasting memories.

Bend, Don’t Break!  

A routine is helpful in transitioning to a new situation, but flexibility is key.  Plans can change at any time for service members, which inevitably affects family members.  While routine and familiarity is important, always keep in mind a need for flexibility. Have some backup plans; a day trip with friends or your kids if the mission takes your spouse elsewhere, trying a new restaurant or checking out that ma and pop shop downtown, are good ways to bend when needed!

Who knew one of my favorite mantras as a military spouse would come from an animated tiger?

“To find the calm in the chaos of this life, find what’s the same to feel settled and what’s different to make it an adventure!”


Carlie James Petrovics is a freelance writer originally from Georgetown, Delaware.-4.png