7 Steps to Your Smoothest PCS EVER
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Hello Spouse SERVE Family!
It’s been a wild several weeks here in my (Brittany’s) home! I hope everyone is staying safe and adjusting to whatever the new normal looks like for your family. I’m getting ready to PCS this summer (to Julia’s dismay), so I’ll be talking a little about the PCS PURGE! With COVID restrictions lessening and more people are able to move, we thought it would be a perfect time to share some tips on how we get prepared to move.
A little background on my experience. I have actually been military associated my entire life. My dad joined the Army in the ‘80s and had me relatively early in his career. As a dependent, I moved from Germany > Iowa > Illinois > Alaska > Nebraska > Kansas > Belgium > Arizona. My dad retired in Arizona, which is where I graduated high school and contracted with ROTC. Then I began my own Army career (dual career with my husband) and moved from Arizona > Missouri > South Carolina > Kentucky. I’ve gotten in quite a few reps in this moving game.
What’s interesting this go around is that my husband and I are actually moving together, to the same place at the same time, which hasn’t happened yet. We also are moving on the most difficult level yet for us: two toddlers, one cat, and one dog and during COVID. Because we are actually moving together this time, I actually need to make sure that we stay below our HHG weight maximums! So before we move, I started going through ALL the things to reduce how much stuff we are actually moving. Below is a short checklist of how to go through your items as you prep for your move!
Step 1: Determine How Much Time You Need. I needed months. With a full time job and two children’s worth of accumulation, I knew it would take me a while to go through everything so I wasn’t cramming at the last minute. I actually started about a year ago, but let’s say full blown effort six months prior to PCS.
Step 2: Tackle Each Room Independently. To start, I picked an area that I knew was likely full of stuff that needed to be gone through. In our case, it was my youngest son’s closet. There were a ton of baby items and clothes that no longer fit him or made sense for our move (to Texas!) that I was ready to give away or sell. Then I moved around the house, tackling one room at a time. I highly recommend looking into the Konmari method – it has a bunch of great tips for deciding what’s worth keeping. I established a single exit point (the garage) where I stored donations, sell items, and things that needed to be re-homed (like I needed to give back a dolly to my parents). Extra Tip: While you’re doing this, start taking photos of high value items like TVs, firearms, antiques, etc and storing them in a folder on your phone for reference when the movers come.
Step 3: Evaluate Big Items. This step is done in conjunction with step 2. I went around and assessed all of our large furniture. Our bed frame is about 7 years old, was a cheapie special, and actually isn’t the right size for our mattress. So I mentally marked that that will not be making the journey with us. We will likely sell it here right before we move and look at getting a new one in Texas. Other items not coming with us included our table (similar to the bed frame, old and not something we love), our old washer and dryer (I planned on getting new ones in Texas BUT they just couldn’t hang and broke around Mother’s Day, so we had to buy new ones that will be coming with us).
Step 4: Pull Out Expendables. As you go through the rooms, start to pull out things that can’t be packed: candles, wine, food, etc and pull them to the front to make sure they are being used up! I like to do this months in advance because I HATE wasting items. So we’ve been running candles nonstop since February. I don’t plan on using precious DITY space for candles when I’m carting 6 creatures worth of supplies across the country.
Step 5: Sell/Donate. Pretty explanatory, start selling stuff or donating it to get it out of your house! This is the PCS PURGE, don't forget that!
Step 6: Pick Your Staging Area. As you get closer, I recommend picking a room to be a staging room. This is where you can put your DITY items as well as your sell items that you don’t want to come with you. Close that door, lock it and tell the movers to leave it alone. Julia actually puts blue painter's tape across the door so the movers won't go inside. I think we are looking at making our room the staging room because we don’t plan on bringing the bed frame, there’s not much that needs to be packed in that room anyway.
Step 7: Move! Now that you’ve done all your prep and have cleared out the junk, you can relax.
Something that also genuinely helps me when going through my stuff is thinking to myself “Does this have a place in my new home.” Granted, I don’t currently know what my new home will look like, but I think about whether the item is practical (have I used it this duty station? Or did it sit in a cabinet for three years?), do I love it (is it sentimental and maybe doesn’t currently have a place in my home, but it does in my ‘retirement home’) or is it necessary? Using that guideline, hopefully you’ll be able to identify what you truly need to keep. I always err on the side of caution – if you aren’t sure – keep it. You can always make a determination later.
Hopefully this guideline is helpful to you! After my move, I’ll post a follow up of how much weight we had in comparison to moving to Fort Campbell.
Now you tell us, what PCS Purge tips do you have?