How to Tackle a PCS without Losing your Mind in FOUR Steps.
What is the one word that can make any military spouse shutter and breakdown into an emotional whirlwind other than “deployment”? PCS. The exciting thing about the military lifestyle is the fact that you will be able to live in places that you never thought you would even visit. However, the same idea of moving can also be foreshadowed by the dread from all the issues that are associated with a PCS. Due to that, the word “PCS” easily can have more negative connotations than positive associated with it.
Trying to plan with the military is laughable and pointless yet we all still try. Nothing is ever set in stone until you are literally on your way to your next destination. So many changes and unknown factors occur over the simple idea of a “move” that it makes you question your sanity.
The biggest advice I can provide for the move to go somewhat smoothly is to be proactive as early as possible. As soon as I know that it is close to time for us to move, I start to prepare. It is best to prepare before the word “PCS” is even uttered. Below are FOUR things that I always do ahead of time before the movers show up.
1) Get Rid of your Clutter
When you live somewhere for a while you accumulate a lot of stuff. One of the biggest things that makes me so mad is when I unpack something from a move and I immediately ask myself “Why did I even have them pack this”? In order to prevent this from happening too much (because we know that it will happen regardless of how much you prepare), you have to do the tedious task of going through EVERYTHING in your home.
Open every drawer, cabinet, closet, etc. and sift through everything. You will eliminate so much junk by doing this. Although this may seem like a daunting task, it does not have to be done all in one day if you start early enough. I like to designate a room to be done per week. I can focus on that room and comb through every dark corner and hard to open drawer to purge and organize all its contents. Doing this also allows you enough time to be able to take items to Goodwill or sell them on your local yard sale pages.
**Disclaimer: No matter how organized you end up getting to be from all of this, you will still want to burn everything and start fresh during the packing and unpacking stages of a PCS**
2) Make LISTS
During a PCS you have a million and a half of things to remember and complete. No one in all that chaos can recall everything they remind themselves to do. In order to combat the feeling of being overwhelmed with all your tasks, start a list. Some lists I HIGHLY recommend are the following:
- Bills – Go through all the people you pay and let them know when you need to have your address changed or the service cut off. Make a note of who you talk to and get as much information as possible because you are more than likely going to be told conflicting things when it comes to complex topics.
- Documents – Figure out what documents you need to carry with you during your move and keep them separated from being packed. This will save you a giant headache when you need to provide some sort of “proof” to someone of who you are or what you are doing there. Whether it be a passport, license, immunization records, marriage certificate, orders or WHATEVER…do your research so you know what you will need.
- Meals – Start a meal plan so you can utilize what you have in your pantry, fridge and freezer. It will help you minimize how much you have to throw away or give away while maximizing how much you save.
- Packing – Start making lists of things you will want to pack and have with you, what will be shipped to you, what to sell and what to store (if you are moving OCONUS). These lists need to be as detailed as possible and can even be broken down by person (or dog – we had a list for what we needed to pack for our pups when we moved and it was a HUGE lifesaver).
3) Get Your House Ready
As time ticks down, you need to start getting your house ready for the movers to come. Start “deep” cleaning so you don’t have to do it after the movers leave. By the end of the day when the movers are gone and you designate your time to clean before a move out inspection, you are exhausted. I try to do get the labor-intensive tasks that would not be deeply disrupted by movers out of the way as soon as I can (cleaning baseboards, patching holes or painting etc.) so I can focus on the light cleaning places when the house is empty.
Be sure to start consolidating the contents of your packing lists into piles or suitcases so you know where everything is. Designating a room or well-defined space will help you stay organized as you add to the piles.
Document and take photos of your things for your own personal moving inventory before your house is in shambles. It will allow you to make sure you capture everything you want to include and helps you not miss the important possessions you own.
Start taking pictures off the wall and puttying the nail holes left behind. This tends to be one of the last things I do because the items on the wall make it feel like “home”. Removing wall art is one of the things that can instantly make me feel like we are moving and life is about to change. Do it when you feel you have enough time to complete it all but do not put it off either! Also, be sure to keep your screws labeled in bags or taped well to the back of where they belong. It will save you!
4) Create an Essentials Box
Buy a small plastic bin and place all the things you will immediately need to help you move into your new place or that you do not want lost. I usually place a tool kit, scissors, pens, paper, batteries, and remote controls for ALL our devices at a minimum inside our box. Those items are horrible to lose and usually are utilized within the first 24 hours of being in your new place.
Although you cannot fully prepare for all the twists and turns that are associated with a PCS, there are always helpful tasks you can complete no matter what. Hopefully this list helps ease your mind and gets you on track to maintaining your sanity during your next move.
What is something you always do when the word “PCS” is mentioned in order to get your family ready to move?
Always Chase Your Tales,
Embark on a journey with Monroe as he navigates what to do when his owner leaves on a military deployment. Get lost in all the experiences and emotions Monroe faces as he learns that these trips are temporary absences and not forever.