Insider Story: Get Moving With a Military Family
In the past twelve years, Erica Tiggs has lived in six different cities. Though she’s originally from Alabama, she had been living near Atlanta before she married her husband, Gabriel, who serves in the U.S. Marine Corps. The military moved them to southern California, then to North Carolina and—six years and one child later—back across the country to the San Francisco area. After another three years, they moved to Kansas City, before heading back to California; they currently live outside San Diego.
It’s a lot of bouncing-around—including one-cross-country trip with one child, and another after their second daughter was born—but the family has made the most of it. They particularly enjoyed Kansas City, Erica says: “I liked having four seasons. We had snow, we had good heat and humidity. In the summer, my girls would just sit and look out the window at the rain and thunder and lightning.”
After all those transitions, Erica has hard-earned guidance for anyone else moving to a new place. Most of all: find your community. “You want to have a good group of friends in the military, but also have a life outside of it, in the city surrounding you,” she says. “I always tell people, to do your best to get out there. Find a friend who’s going through the same situation you are, and go find a community through your church or your gym or anything.”
Erica’s other big piece of advice is: Prepare, prepare, prepare. “We’ve done a cross-country trip with one kid and another with two kids. If you’re planning to have a three-day trip, prepare snacks and clothes for a seven-day trip, because you never know what’s going to happen,” she says. “And don’t be ashamed to break some of your usual rules. We usually have a no-sugar policy, but when we’re traveling, we make it a reward for them. Our girls are in their car seats for eight hours straight, so it’s good to let them get out and have a break and a treat, like a cookie.”
Preparation also means being ready for the unexpected at your final destination. After their last move, Erica and her family were in California a full month before most of their belongings arrived. One thing that was there from the beginning: their new Sleep Number bed, which they’d purchased in Kansas City and had shipped to California.
“I have been wanting a Sleep Number bed for a long time,” Erica says. “My husband did three deployments in the first four years after we were married, and I basically just worked and lived out of my house. When I was at home, I was in my bed.” Erica is an avid runner, and likes a firmer mattress after a long workout, and also wishes she’d had her Sleep Number during and after her pregnancies, when she needed extra support to sleep.
By the time she and Gabriel went into the Sleep Number store in Kansas City, Erica had done all the research and knew exactly which bed model she wanted. “They showed us all the other bed models,” she says with a laugh, “but sure enough, the i7 was exactly what we needed, and I’ve been very thankful for it.” She was, however, surprised by the pillows at the store. “My husband bought one for himself,” Erica says, “But I just said, ‘No, I can get one at Wal-Mart!’ But I was so wrong. I ended up going back and using my reward points and getting two pillows, and I love them. The pillows make the bed.”
What is your Sleep Number setting? Erica’s ranges from 25 to 30, and Gabriel’s is 35.
If you could sleep anywhere, where would be? Mine is really simple: I would love to be in my bed, but I would want my bed to be in sweet home Alabama. My family is there, and I would love to be close to them.
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Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash