Nobody really understands what you go through during a PCS move unless they’ve been a military family themselves. It’s sometimes impossible to explain to other civilians what it is like having to move your family and pack up your entire life every few years. But instead of dwelling on the challenges of PCS, choose to see your move as an opportunity for a brand new adventure. After all, who else gets to experience new cities, cultures, and countries like we do? Does anyone else so frequently have the opportunity for a fresh start?
After a few PCS moves, you’ll be an old pro, helping another family as they look at their situation with the same shock and overwhelm that you’re feeling now. There’s an emotional component of saying goodbye to friends you’ve made, maybe a job you’ve had, and of course if you have a family, you have to work through transitioning your children, and change can be difficult for them. Part of a successful transition is staying organized to minimize the chaos. Here are eight fresh ways to help you stay organized in your PCS move:
Create a checklist. This seems like an obvious number one, but we’ll go one step further and give you some amazing resources. We love these amazing printable resources from the Homes I have Made Even if you don’t make a beautiful Pinterest-worthy binder for your move, these printable list options will save you so much time. She has options for packing lists, inventory, expenses, car, destinations, furniture measurement, and more! A detailed checklist is absolutely the first step to keeping it all together. This brings us to the importance of “keeping track.”
Document everything. Do it from the very beginning, and continue to do it when you reach your new home. In case you have to file a claim, you’ll wish you had dates, logs, and photos. Make a commitment to document everything from the get go and have a space ready, like a binder or folder system, to hold it all. Take inventory of everything you own, but be smart about it! Instead of trying to manually write everything down, just grab your camera and snap pictures of your closets, drawers, furniture, and belongings. Done! Don’t forget to take photos of your new house before you start moving in as well. You’ll be so glad you have these later on if you need them.
Go label crazy. I’m not talking about color coding boxes for rooms and putting labels on your kids’ craft supplies. I’m getting serious about labeling the things that drive you crazy when you’re unpacking later. It’s the endless cords and random little screws. What do they go with? How do they hook up? Label each cord and take a picture before you even dismantle it! And put any loose screws, hooks, or anything else you take off the wall into a clear plastic baggie and label it. That way if anything gets separated, you’ll know where it belongs.
Use. It. Up. If you’ve ever moved, you know liquids do not move well — clean your house, do your laundry, use up the last bit of soap you have. The last thing you want to do is waste them! Think about your pantry and your fridge (every PCSer knows that the last minute items are what throws everything out the window and off course!) and do your best to start thinking of how you can empty your freezer, drink up all the soda or juice in the house, and truly get down to moving the least amount possible.
You don’t have to DIY it all. We all want to save money and stick to our budget, yes. But some things are just worth paying for and that’s ok. If you have four children and trying to clean and pack is overwhelming, consider hiring a local cleaning company. You don’t have to figure out the logistics of driving your two cars plus a moving van across the country either. There are services for these things! Consider using an auto transport company when you move to ship one of your cars. Getting help is worth it, and you don’t have to do everything alone.
Really take inventory. Everyone knows the time to get rid of old stuff is before you pack it up. With today’s options for selling things online, it’s easy to get a little cash for belongings that won’t go with you! Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and NextDoor are all free easy ways to list your items. If you haven’t used something for two years, let it go. Do you have boxes you never opened from your last PCS? It’s time to consider leaving them behind or donating what’s inside to someone who could use it more. You’ll be so glad when you are left only with the things you love and truly need!
Don’t be afraid of saying what you want. Just because you’re asking friends to help you pack doesn’t mean they can pack however they want. Be sure to stick up for yourself and communicate how you’d like things done. This goes for your movers too! If you want things packed by room and padded very carefully, say it. If at any point things are out of control and you feel overwhelmed, you can ask people to take a break so you can talk through things with your family. It’s your home, and your belongings, so you can ask questions and kindly keep everybody in line. If you would do better packing without the kiddos or the pets, arrange a play date or a pet sitter.
Put a smile on your face. Finally, think about how you can make this move your best one yet and stay positive. Make a list of all the good things you’re excited about this PCS and keep it on top of your file as you are working towards your new destination each day. Maybe you can think of a reason you’ll love your new house. Maybe you’re going to be glad you won’t have that pesky neighbor anymore. Maybe you get to live closer to an ocean or a lake. Find a reason to be positive and smile your way through your PCS move, and you’ll look back with fond memories of your experience.
Are you a military family who has a few PCS moves under their belt? What tips would you add to this list? Leave a comment and let us know!
Posted by Leah Hadsell
This article was originally posted on the National Military Family Association website. NMFA is the voice of military families because, for 50 years, we have proven that we stand behind service members, their spouses, and their children.