MilSpouse Moments: Military Moving Tips – Packing Up, Getting Settled, and Making Friends
It’s officially peak moving season. According to Military.com, 65% of Military moves occur between May 15 and August 31. With the average Military Family moving every 2-3 years, it’s no secret that MilSpouses are constantly on the go. As you know, it can be difficult to feel “at home” when you frequently have to change where “home” is.
Whether it’s a planned move or an unexpected PCS, packing up and moving on can be stressful. Here are some Military moving tips to help put you and make a smooth transition:
Purge, purge, purge
We tend to accumulate a lot of unnecessary things over the years, so a big decluttering session will do the mind (and your new home) some good. Here are a few ways to approach the purging:
- Get rid of 5 things a day. Challenge yourself to get rid of five things a day in the weeks approaching your move (even better if you can do ten). Whether you take the items to Goodwill, sell them on Craigslist, or donate them to friends and family, there’s a good chance you’ll feel a weight lifted.
- Don’t bring items you’ve never used. Have you ever stumbled across a box of items you forgot you had? We’ve all been there. Whether they’re random holiday gifts that are collecting dust in your attic or a box of old high school t-shirts, chances are that you no longer have a need for those items. Moral of the story: don’t bring items that you never used — or never even unpacked — from your last move to your new one.
A surefire way to experience stress during a move is if you don’t organize everything first. It might seem like a heavy lift up front, but it will benefit you in the long run. Here are a few quick tips to get you started:
- Label everything. Putting labels on your boxes will help you remember where you put your items. You can label your boxes by room, and also by family member to keep track of individual belongings. For even better organization, color code the labels for each room and family member (try neon sticky notes to make them stand out!). This way, when you or your movers unpack, you can easily group like colors together as you find a new place for all your possessions.
- Create a moving folder. Create a moving folder or binder that houses all of your important documents. This can include birth certificates, Social Security cards, mortgage information, floor plans, and more.
- Pack a “first day” box. Designate a box that contains all of the items you know you’ll need immediately. This can include toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, and medicines, and packing items such as tape, scissors, sticky notes, and markers. Hint: don’t put this one on the truck first! You will need it readily accessible once you arrive at your new digs.
Ask for Help
One of the best decisions you can make before your move is to ask for help. Need a great excuse to hang out with some of your MilSpouse friends before you leave? Grab a bottle of wine and some snacks and invite them over for a packing party. Planning a final get-together with your MilSpouse friends can encourage everyone to stay in touch once you’ve moved.
You can also leverage your group of friends to arrange playdates if you have kids. That way, you have the whole house to yourself and can organize, pack, and label in peace. If the kids are home, don’t be afraid to get them involved. Try making a game out of it and challenge the kids to see who can pack their boxes the fastest – winner gets to pick which bedroom they want first!
Once you’ve arrived at your new home, it’s time to start unpacking. Although you might be itching to bring your gallery wall vision to life and hang up your pictures, it’s important to be methodical upon arrival.
Give key areas a quick cleaning. Before you flood the kitchen counter with French presses and fruit baskets, give it a quick once-over with some cleaning spray or disinfectant. The same goes for bathroom counters, showers, and shelves. A little dusting and cleaning will reinforce a “fresh” start and can keep the germs away, too.
- First things first. While you may be eager to unpack everything, make sure you take care of a few essentials first. Unpack items like paper towels, toilet paper, and bed sheets, so no matter how much unpacking you get done, you can function normally. The coffee machine might be an essential for some, too!
- Don’t rush the process. Our advice? Unpack one box at a time. It can be tempting to open a box and put off organizing all the items inside. But, if you organize and label them well, you’ll be able to conquer each box, little by little.
Sometimes, the hardest part about moving is once the craziness of packing and unpacking is finished and it’s time to start making a life in your new home. The wonderful news is that the Military community is incredibly tight-knit and supportive.
- Get connected. In this era of online groups, pins, hashtags, and forums, it has never been easier to get connected. Consider joining a MilSpouse group, attend unit events, or join a spouse’s club. Another thing to keep in mind: You don’t have to limit yourself to MilSpouses exclusively. Join a book club, download Bumble BFF (hey, no shame!), or sign up for a yoga class to make some civilian friends, too. You also might want to consider joining your kids’ PTA so you can gain more insight into their new school system and meet parents of future classmates.
- Get out of the house. While social media is a great tool for making connections, the real relationship building occurs outside cyberspace. Don’t shy away from grabbing a cup of coffee with your neighbor, recommending a playdate with other families, or exploring your new town on your own so you can familiarize yourself with shopping centers, parks, and other important landmarks.
No matter where your next adventure takes you, never forget that the Military Community is here for you. Here’s to a stress-free moving season!
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