I’ve OFFICIALLY lived in Texas for 2 months today. Can you believe it? I can’t, I feel like we’ve been here so much longer, probably because we rarely leave the house due to virtual school. But now’s a great time, while it’s still so fresh in my mind, to write about my PCS AARs (After Action Reviews). In the military, we conduct AARs after we finish a mission to identify things that went well, things that didn’t and ways to improve. Great units write these up, keep them and use them to plan the same or similar events in the future. Most people (ahem, me), forget and make the same mistakes every time. WELL NOT THIS TIME.
Here we go!
We will start with the improves:
1. Childcare/Petcare/Fishcare. So I knew this was important, but I didn’t realize HOW important having a childcare plan for packing day and loadout day would turn out to be. I actually had a plan – my children would go to daycare, like they did every single workday. Here’s the catch, due to a COVID scare, both kids were kicked out for the entire pack out/load out week! At the last minute. The day before the movers came! I sobbed because I knew I could manage pack out with my 4 YO at home, but throwing in the 2 YO was a different ball game. I frantically called a friend and she agreed to watch the kids during packing day, which was an incredible help (Jen, you are a savior!). Another friend took my dog, Scout, for load out day. I set this up weeks previously because I knew my dog would not want to stay in the house while the movers loaded the trailer. However, if I were to redo it, I would find someone to watch the kids/pets for both days to alleviate the amount of stress on my plate. As a note, a spouse can be the one who watches the kids, if they are home. Which brings me to my next point.
2. Don’t schedule load out and pack out during a big event week. I totally thought I could do it all. I took leave from work, the kids had daycare, I’ve moved multiple times before. NOPE. Here’s the week in a nutshell. July 27th – my oldest was kicked out of daycare. July 28th – 8th wedding anniversary and my youngest kicked out of daycare. July 29th – Movers come for pack day. July 30th – Movers loaded out everything. July 31st – My husband’s change of command. Truly, truly terrible timing. Not only was my dearest husband busy with rehearsals, inventories, and downloading everything as a commander, I thought that I could totally handle everything else. Even though we technically survived, I’ve had MUCH better weeks. If at all possible, avoid important events. Be better than Brittany.
3. EAT YOUR FOOD BEFORE YOU MOVE. Okay, almost everyone knows this. But I failed to do it and had half a fridge and freezer to give away. I am going to deliberately make a food schedule for our last month in Texas.
Here are my sustains:
1. Prepare for the movers. Thanks to Jen, who came over that day I called her crying with ziplocks, pens, and her teenage daughter to watch the boys, I learned a few tricks about preparing for movers. We labeled each door with the room name for the movers (including naming Boy’s Room 1 and 2, which helped distinguished between the boys’ rooms). There were pre-labeled ziplocks for hardware for each bedroom. Finally, we created signs for “no pack” areas for the things we planned on moving ourselves. This helped so much once the movers came, everything was labeled for unpacking ease in Texas. Also, no missing hardware!
2. Unload extra weight. We’ve never busted weight (thank goodness), thanks to my constant need to purge. I went through a few months prior using our PCS purge checklist (also included in your Spouse SERVE Calendar Year 2021 Planner) to get rid of a bunch of extra weight. Also, I identified any furniture that I was likely going to get rid of it in Texas, and got rid of it sooner. For us, that meant the table and the bed frame. Honestly, we haven’t replaced them yet. The foldable table has worked great for our family of four and is way less stressful when the kids color all over it – I may never replace it! (Just kidding, my husband and I are considering building our own). If you can start going through your stuff a few months out, I highly recommend it!
3. Unpack as quickly as possible, and take pictures of damage as you unpack them. That way you can begin your claim quickly and not forget about it or run out of time. My mom drove with us to Texas and stayed a few days so we had quite a bit of help with the boys & unpacking. This helped us unpack the whole house in about two weeks (most of it being done in the first 5-7 days). Which also made us feel more at home quicker – win-win!
I know I’m not perfect at moving. Actually, it’s possible I’m terrible at it. But hopefully by writing these down, I can be a little bit better next time!
So tell us, what are your PCS AARs from PCS of the past?