By Jaimi Erickson
Contributing Writer

Do you push off your spring cleaning to right up until the time you are due to PCS? I try to schedule my deep cleaning closer to our move timeline. But since the items on our PCS checklist overlap with a good household deep clean, as a military family, we tend to declutter and clean out every time we move.  

In fact, military families were “Marie Kondo-ing” before Marie Kondo was a thing. We assess our household goods, and then sell or give away what no longer “sparks joy.” We also do this when we know it will absolutely not fit, like when our new home’s square footage goes from 3,000 sf to 1,500 sf. Spring cleaning takes on a whole new meaning when you PCS. There is a list of things that you should do every time you move, not just cleaning tasks, since those are the easy things. This list includes items you may put off because they just don’t fit into the normal cleaning tasks. These are the life tasks that we often forget about because we are constantly rotating in and out of places in this military adventure. 

Consider this list of important things to do when you move to your next duty station. They will help you keep your household and family organized for whatever comes next. 

PCS Cleaning 

We should call it military life cleaning. Deep cleaning of each closet, cupboard, and the garage is an absolute necessity. Because our floor plans and square footage change every few years, we can’t hold onto things that have gone unused. If an item has been in a box the entire time we’ve been at our current duty station, it’s obvious we don’t need it and it is probably not important. I tend to get rid of things while my husband likes to keep things forever. Talk with your spouse about what a future use could be for an item. If neither of you can think of a future use, then it should probably be sold, donated, or given away. 

File Cabinet  

Big revelations can happen when you spring clean your file cabinet. Sifting through the papers that collect over a military lifetime is nostalgic, but necessary if you want to declutter. Sort through all your papers, including the kids’ toy manuals, appliance guides, and old rental agreements. Toss or shred what you know you do not need. 

Keep tax and financial records for seven years. Each new tax year, shred the previous tax forms and receipts to keep a clean file system. You don’t need that extra weight affecting your PCS move anyway. 

Kids Clothes 

The military community is so generous. You see it with all the furniture and clothes that people give away for free in the Marketplace groups. The place to sell or give away items quickly is at or near a military base.  

Kids’ clothes are easy to give away. Bag up the items that are too small and offer a bag for a flat fee or ask a neighbor with a child about to be that size if they want it. Being generous is a way to be a positive part of your community. I love how much of it I see in military communities. 

Important Documents Vault 

Every time you move, you must update your life insurance and other insurance policy information. If you are an AAFMAA Member, you have access to a Members-only Digital Vault for your important documents. Change Address Everywhere 

When you do a PCS move you will need to change your address with the post office. Don’t forget to change your address on your club memberships, box subscriptions, or any magazine subscriptions you get regularly.  

Also, pay attention to the expiration dates on driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations and especially on your military ID. I got caught with mine expired twice when my husband was deployed. Learn from my mistake and put that ID expiration date in your calendar with a reminder. Schedule an appointment a few weeks out so you are on the ball with any changes. 

Settling into Life at the New Duty Station 

The final steps of any PCS are more about the new duty station than closing out the old one. Once you know where you are going, and have housing secured, set up initial medical and dental appointments. These usually take quite a few weeks to complete anyway, so you will be ahead of the game. 

A neighbor of mine always enrolls her kids in a camp or activity at their new duty station. They start right away upon arriving and jump into meeting friends and getting into a new routine. Although I prefer to give myself time to settle into the new place, for families that like to have a solid routine right away, this is a great tip. 

For homeschool families, your best resource is to connect with HSLDA Military Families. That way you can plug in to the legal requirements for homeschooling at your new duty station. They also offer a group search page, since we know how essential community is for all military families. You and your family will be better prepared and ready for your next PCS move.  

Wherever you are in the spring cleaning or PCS season, be sure to give yourself time to get settled and then prepare to flourish in your new place. 

Find an AAFMAA Life Insurance policy that’s right for you. 

About Jaimi Erickson

Jaimi is a mom of 4, military wife, and writer. She blogs about motherhood, kids activities and homemaking tips at The Stay-at-Home Mom Survival Guide. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.

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