When we PCS'd last year, it was my 39th move! I am a military brat. Moving is what I do - please don't ask me to give you my opinion on gardening or decorating....this is what civilians do. I don't even do curtains anymore. Let's face it, they never fit in the next house! I blame my lack of curtains on allergies when anyone asks - which, oddly enough, they never do!
I have to admit, I'm really impressed with how quickly military spouses get up that learning curve of how to move. All the advice that has been given the past few days has been GOLDEN - keep copies of those posts for your records! Memorize them before you face the next PCS.
My mother was a veritable champion of the PCS process. We always had our house together within a 24 hour period. She is also unquestionably a saint! I, however, do not delude myself that I am anywhere near that good. I know that months later, boxes will still have to be dealt with and Christmas ornaments found. We may not have Halloween decorations for a year or so either! However, I do try to get the house 'livable' within 24 hours. In this vain, I remember certain things...
It is your right to have the movers unpack the boxes and take them away! It is not an additional duty for them, it is required in the regulations. If they don't want to do this, that is unfortunate, but not your problem. Call transportation! Definitely a number to keep handy - they can be your best friend. We always let the moving company know we expect the boxes to be unpacked, the beds put together and the empty boxes removed as soon as they pull up to the house. If we can, we call them before they are expected to give them a heads up! This last move, we had them come back the next day to unpack and remove boxes - we were not their favorites. But I want to get settled as soon as possible.
I pack up things in the dresser drawers in plastic bags and then put them back in the drawers. The movers just move the bags to the boxes, easier for them and they seem to pack it more carefully. When I get to the new house, I have only to put them back in the drawers and they are clean and still folded! There's something about having someone rifling through my unmentionables that gives me hebbie-gebbies!
I take down all the pictures and put them in one area. I also set up a DO NOT PACK closet or bathroom. I put all the things we'll take with us in this room and put a tape across it. I'm sure the movers all wonder what I'm storing in there - makes me sort of mysterious. Also, and I know I shouldn't even have to mention this, I have the toilet plunger wrapped in a plastic garbage bag. There is nothing more depressing than opening boxes and finding your toilet plunger in with your dry clean only clothing! Always take your photos with you! Keep them with your important papers, video of your household goods, list of serial numbers, shot records, school records, medical records, any important x-rays, and the 20 copies of the orders.
Also, watch how the movers label the boxes. We've had moves where the only things on the side of boxes was pots, dishes, fans, papers, clothes....it's amazing how bad the labeling can be! Make sure they write what's actually in the box and what room it is supposed to go in on the other end. We had 12 boxes marked fans....we only have two fans!
Moving is like going to the commissary. I always put frozen items first, refrigerated items second, canned goods go together, bathroom items, chips and breads....you know the routine. It makes it easier on the bagger and on me when I unpack. Same theory...just more stuff to organize. A little organization up front does make for a smoother transition.
We had our household goods 'lost' three times this past move (fortunately, they found the shipment three times too!) and lived in a house with three kids for a week with nothing, but our valuables that we always take with us. So much for the 'door-to-door' theory. We made it into an adventure for the kids and, fortunately for us, they bought it! We spent a lot of time at the base pool, touring the area and planting flowers out front. Okay, so I'll garden when there is absolutely NOTHING else to do! I have three boys and the oldest two are Boy Scouts - camping and 'roughing it' is what they live for - Thank heavens! We did bring the football for the stops along the way - they were good!
One of the greatest tricks I've learned with kids is to let them decorate their boxes. I give each kid a new box of markers - somehow old markers just never are quite the same - after the movers pack up their room and they go nuts for HOURS - did you catch the hours, very important for any mom! They each have their own mark they put on their boxes and they love showing their masterpieces off to each other and Papa Bear and I. On the flip side of the move, they love watching for their boxes to come off the van and they can identify which 'boys room' the boxes go to for the movers. It gives them a sense of continuity between one location and the next and they know their stuff has arrived! It also gives them 'ownership' of their portion of the move.
As a military brat, I can assure you that moving is stressful. I can also assure you they will survive - even sully, pubescent girls! They may hate it, but they will survive. They'll even appreciate it when they get older and realize they are much more comfortable meeting new people, adjusting to different situations and making impressions on job interviews! I remember when I was in 2nd grade and my dad was transfered from Omaha to California. Though it was my 6th move, you'd think I was leaving my only home ever! I was leaving my all-time best friend ever, Annie (she came right before my next all-time best friend, Jackie who was followed by Jennifer....... ) The cruelty of the whole thing left me balling in the backseat. As we got to the middle of Nebraska, my sister (older than me and much wiser in the ways of the world - I think she was in 8th grade) offered me $5 to stop crying. Being no fool, I took it! Nothing takes away the sting of leaving good friends, but $5 can go a long way!
Kids are going to hate some moves and love others. 'Nothing too good or too bad lasts too long in the military' goes for kids too! As you get older, it gets tougher - no doubt. Most military brats learn to roll with the punches while making parents miserable and piling on the guilt. Kids know it's not your choice either - it's your job. It's also not an excuse to 'act out'. I realize this may sound harsh, but give your kids the right to respectfully voice their stress and a compassionate shoulder - but let them know that there is no option and they need to adjust to the new situation. Obviously, this doesn't apply to kids with special needs who will need to be loved in the extraordinary fashion their parents always seem to have in life! But, for the most part - life needs to go on and kids need to have their feet held to the fire. At least, that was my dad's theory. He and my mom took no guff from us and I expect the same from my kids.
Kids take their cues from their parents! I love moving! I love the adventure, the challenge, the newness, the chance to see new things, the opportunity to escape from having to redecorate! I hope to convey this to my kids. I want them to see as much of this country as they can, to meet as many people as they can, to experience as many different cultures and historical sites as possible! Some assignments are the bomb - some places you'll wish were bombed! I've lived in both. Growing up, my fondest memories are of Knob Noster, Missouri! I thought it was going to be an absolute armpit. It was awesome! What a great little town. Go Panthers!
Definitely learn as much as you can about your rights, responsibilities, new assignment location and follow every word of advice you've been given in the previous posts. But overall, learn to enjoy moving - you'll do it a lot - and pass this love on to your kids.