By Amanda Huffman
Contributing Writer

Although decluttering is a common practice people do all the time, when you are making a PCS move, it’s essential. Before you move you want to get rid of things you are no longer using or won’t plan on using at your new location. Why? Because it makes shifting from one place to another easier, it can ensure you are under your weight limit, and it helps you hone in on what’s really valuable to your family.  However, it isn’t as simple as saying, “we don’t use this item or clothing here so we should get rid of it.” 

When my family moved from Ohio to California, our wardrobe changed dramatically but that didn’t mean we got rid of all our heavy coats and boots. We knew we would move again and who knows what the weather would be like at the next assignment.

Planning for a new move and a new location is more of an art than a science. There isn’t a formula that works for everyone because there may be variables that affect your choice but there are some general practices you can use to help you clear out things you don’t need before your move.

The best tip for decluttering is to start early. Moving is stressful, so you don’t want to be worrying about decluttering too close to your move-out date. It’s best to start decluttering months ahead of time, especially in the spring when the weather can inspire you to  go through clothes more easily and pull out things you won’t need to keep. 

Another tip when you’re starting early is to go room by room. Give yourself one to two weeks per room to start going through, organizing and getting rid of things you or your kids don’t use. I like this rule: If you haven’t used it or worn it in a year, it is time to get rid of it. This excludes formalwear that still fits and winter coats. 

Continue with something easy: If you have a box of stuff you’ve never unpacked no matter how many moves you’ve made, you probably don’t need it. Of course, if the box in question has family heirlooms, this rule doesn’t apply. But if you have boxes you haven’t touched for over a year, you either don’t need what is inside or you have already replaced it. However, I don’t recommend just throwing the box away — you should go through it. You never know what one thing may be hidden inside that you’ve forgotten about.

If you have kids, you know how quickly they grow. If you don’t plan on having more children or if you have toys that your kids have outgrown , it is a good time to get rid of those things you won’t need again. For example, some families like to use a PCS move to transition their child to a new, big-kid bed and ditch the crib. Others see a PCS as a time to go through the accumulation of toys and get rid of anything that the kids have outgrown.

Are you making your last move? If you are leaving the military for civilian life, it’s likely you won’t be moving out of the area again. If you are like me and moved from the East Coast to the West Coast, you can ditch that snow shovel. Before you move to a warmer climate, just  pass it on to a neighbor who will be happy to take it off your hands.

A friend of mine shared how she held on to her KitchenAid mixer and her ice cream maker without ever using them. Although they were just taking up space, she had the idea that she might use them sometime, but she never did. I also held on to an ice cream maker someone gave me. My husband made me get rid of it before we moved because it just sat in the garage collecting dust. But I really thought one day we would make ice cream and gave myself two weeks to use it. And well, we don’t have an ice cream maker anymore. 

When it comes to kids’ toys, only keep one special item. Also, if a toy doesn’t get played with, get rid of it. When my kids are away for school or camping, I will often deep clean their room, getting rid of things they never play with. I keep the trash bag full of stuff in the attic for a month or so to see if they ask for it. So far, they have never asked for the things I have gotten rid of, which often surprises me. 

If you don’t quite get to all the areas of your home before you move, there is still a way to declutter. It can also be done as you unpack in your new location. As you go through your boxes, think about if you will use it, or if you have used it. A good way to remember if you have used it is if you can identify where the item was in your last home. Just know that decluttering while unpacking can make the process of setting up your new home take longer.

Now it is your turn, what is your best decluttering tip?

Amanda is a military veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer who served on a combat deployment with the Army in Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career in the Space Force. Amanda is the host of the Women of the Military podcast. There she shares the stories of women who have served or are serving in the military. The podcast has over 200 episodes and over 100K downloads. Amanda is also an author and has published two books. Her first book, Women of the Military tells the stories of 28 military women who served in the military. Her second book, A Girl’s Guide to Military Serviceis the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Winner for Teen Non Fiction. It is a guide for high school girls considering military service to help them build a strong foundation for their future career. She also works as a freelance writer and has been featured in a number of military publications including The War, Military Families Magazine, Clearance Jobs, Military Spouse Magazine, and more. 

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