As a military family, you’ll probably move a few times during your career, either from one local home to another or to a different base, a couple states away. Some of that will depend on your personal preferences on relocation, as well as the needs of your military branch and your rate, and the nearby commands at which you could be stationed.
Your first military move could be the first truly stressful thing you experience as a military spouse. But, with the right amount of pre-planning, there are ways to get through your first PCS move like a seasoned pro.
1. Know your schedule, in advance.
Once you know when your PCS packers and movers will be arriving, make sure you aren’t dealing with them on your own. Find a family member or a good friend who can come to your home and be there with you. Make sure they know what is to be packed and what’s off limits so they can answer questions quickly.
If you have children, something to consider is whether they are old enough to stay home during this time or should they go somewhere else. Depending on the time of year, schools or day camps might be good environments for younger children to be in while work is happening.
If those places aren’t available, having your children spend the day with another family member or trusted friend is a good option. Just remember to send them off with toys that you don’t need to have packed.
If you have pets, this is a good time to reserve a spot for them, at a local kennel or boarding facility or find a friend to take them.
By having children and pets out of the home while all that work is going on, it ensures that doors, both interior and exterior, can be left open (weather permitting) for the movers to come and go, without the worry of someone bolting out an open door. Also, having a few less little bodies in the home should make it easier for foot traffic to keep moving within the home.
2. Pick your safe place.
Identify where you’ll be storing items the packers and movers will not be allowed to access. Aside from the items you’ll need during your move, it should also include all uniform items, medications, computers, charging cords, personal, insurance and military files, special toys your children will need, and even your pet items.
As you place items in this “off limits” area, automatically put them into bags. Have at least one bag, if not more, for each family member, including your pets.
Some people use their vehicles because they can be locked. Others choose to use a closet and clearly mark it as being, “Off limits.” Another option can be somewhere off-site, such as a family member or friend’s home.
Some people choose to use their vehicles because they can be locked, securing their items. Others may decide to use a closet that has been clearly identified as being off-limits.
3. Fight the urge to do your own packing.
Not packing might be the hardest part of your PCS pack up. Don’t start packing your items before the packers get to your home because they will unpack them and then they will pack them for you.
These people are professionals, and they will help the movers keep track of your belongings.
4. Stop grocery shopping.
Do you really want to toss out those half-filled cereal boxes, or pack a half box of spaghetti when it comes time to leave your home? Don’t waste precious cargo space in your vehicle(s) with groceries.
About two weeks before youactually move out of your home, stop grocery shopping and start making the most of your pantry. If you get down to the remaining bottles of condiments and drinks, then you’re doing it right.
If you just can’t use up everything and the remaining itemsaren’t travel worthy, either give them to your friends or, if they are unopened, consider donating them to your local food bank.
If you can swing it in your budget, you may want to consider getting already-prepared meals from a grocery store. At this point, your kitchen will most likely be all packed up anyway.
Moving can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be the hardest or worst thing you deal with during a military career. Keep in mind the military, as well as the command you’re leaving, is a community of which you are still a part. There are people can you turn to for advice because others have been through this before you. With some pre-planning and the help of your family and friends, a PCS move is something you can endure.