I am pretty much your regular, semi-smart girl, but occasionally, I come up with something really brilliant. Or my husband comes up with something really brilliant, and I just pretend it was my idea. Either way, our lives have been improved. Plus, I am always gathering tips from my fellow mil-spouses. Best way to get a refrigerator clean for inspection? How do you keep small children entertained on long, long airplane rides? What do you do when your spouse calls home to see if he can invite a guest home unexpectedly? No matter what the question, you're not the first person to ask it and someone has surely figured out a great solution. The trick is the sharing part; there is no way to compile every single parenting/moving/marriage/travel/military life trick into one single location.
Even if it is impossible, we might as well throw a few things out there. For example, a friend told me that when she nears PCS time, she starts buying her cleaning supplies in powder or wipe form as much as possible. That way they can be moved. What a good idea!
Another friend gave me the great idea to take my printer cartridges out of the printer when we move, and stick them in a ziptop bag so that you don't have a bad printer accident. So smart! Can you imagine the mess if the worst were to happen?
Over the years, I've learned not to buy heavy gifts and send them home for Christmas. First, you often spend more on shipping than on the gift itself. Second, stuff gets broken in the mail. Third, it is a pain. I have resorted to gift cards and mail order presents shipped directly to the recipient. It isn't the cheapest way to do things, but it works.
Last move, we mailed several boxes to ourselves. My smart husband labelled the boxes "hotel" and "house" so that we knew which ones to pick up at the post office first, and which ones to open first. So helpful during those crazy days trying to find a house in a foreign country.
When our kids were little, we learned a good trick for long, international flights. We would put large ziptop plastic bags with fresh clothes just inside the zipper of our suitcases. When we retrieved our bags to go through customs, we would pull out the fresh clothes, shove our dirty clothes in the suitcase, and be prepared for the rest of the trip. You never know when you will sit on a box of orange juice in your airplane seat (yes, it happens) or when the baby will have destroyed all the outfits in your carry-on before you get half-way through the journey. (Also has happened to me.) If you are PCSing with pets, put some pet food just inside the zipper of your luggage, too. You can feed the pets while you are waiting to get them through customs, if you think they'll be OK with that.
Another thing that I did during our last move was to send backpacks full of school supplies in our unaccompanied baggage. As it turned out, our household goods arrived before school started, but not by much. We had plenty of supplies to start school whether our things had arrived or not.
Something that I try to do, but generally don't, is to have some sort of decent meal available in the freezer. Even a frozen lasagna looks fabulous with some bread and a bagged salad. Not worrying about dinner would free me up to worry about more important things, like the state of my house. It hasn't happened often, but I want my husband to know that he can bring someone home if they happen to be passing through our area.
I know that you all have smart things to share. No matter how large or how small, put it in the comments. You will surely help another person by sharing. Thanks!
photo by: plastAnka