Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Military Moving Madness

Nobody rocks a relocation better than a military wife. 

I got to see that firsthand this week, when I spent a half hour chatting with Janet and Emily of the Army Wife Network. We talked about moving (PCSing in Army wife lingo), getting kids adjusted to a new home, and some of the funny and not-so-funny things that happen when you pick up and move your life from one place to another.

Some of their experiences moving for the military were not so different from my civilian moves. We all experienced unpacking garbage cans with the garbage still in them (I forgot to mention the time I unpacked an ashtray with ashes still in it), nuts and bolts for beds going AWOL (As I say in Home Sweet Homes what started out as a bunk bed became just a pile of lumber), and having precious possessions lost and broken. The only difference is, these women have done it a lot more than me.

While we were on the air swapping stories about moving, other team members of the  Army Wife Network were busy hosting a Twitter party and taking Facebook comments on the subject. The Facebook convo centered around “the biggest PCS lesson you’ve learned.”

I had to share some of the lessons these ladies have learned. If you didn't already have an overwhelming pride of our military and their families for the sacrifices they make for the rest of us, you will now.

Tracy: Do you have a game plan for your PCS? Great! Now scrap it bc the Army has their own plans and it will be nothing like yours!

Cindy: Biggest PCS lesson: Don't wait until you have paper orders to start decluttering and packing!

Lori: Make sure the dishwasher is empty. Just sayin’.

Cortney: I’ve learned that it is possible to pack 2500 square feet of stuff in one week. Always stock beer and pizza for movers and anyone who helps load. Always pack the safe in the car. A DITY move may be miserable while doing it but, you can use the money from it to get a massage.

Valerie: Never ever PCS without a spool of 550 cord! It makes an EXCELLENT shower curtain ring set substitute when you arrive in a new home but have no way to hang that shower curtain. Can be used to rig up a mattress when the bed slates are MIA. For a pet leash upon discovering the movers packed those. Or a pet tie out too. For an impromptu clothesline when you had to hand wash a few things and now need to dry. And of course to securely strap down all the 'extra stuff' we seem to wind up with after the moving truck has pulled away and now we need to try to stuff into already overstuffed vehicles!  Yup - 550 cord - a PCSing spouses best friend!

Alice: Never let your husband’s co-workers organize and load the truck. They may be able to fit a years worth of gear into a shoe box but give them an empty 26-foot trailer and it is chaos!

Julie: Getting a bigger U-Haul or two big ones next time. We’re a family of 9, yes 7 kids and have a lot of stuff! One wasn't enough! And to try and keep calm n label things during a pcs move!

Joan: Be very nice to the movers.

Terri: Keep the key to the lock on the moving truck in your pocket - Don't hand it to your spouse or anyone else for that matter. You will have NO idea where it is when you arrive and end up having to get a lock cutter only to find the key shortly after you've just cut the lock off.  Also . . . always take pictures before loading and after unloading. You never know what you might find. We don't smoke but our packers did and must have mistaken our tote for garbage.

Rhonda: To remember what is important. Furniture gets broken, household goods disappear, but those can all be replaced. The important thing to me is, if we are PCSing, we are still all together and healthy, planning our next adventure as a family!

Shalee: Make sure you get a big enough truck!!! Had to leave a lot on the curb and a friend had to bring us a truckload. Better to have too much room then not enough.

Teresa: Don’t be shy. Meet your neighbors. They can help you and you might help them. Whatever you're experiencing, your not the first, or the last.

Stephanie: Remember that once a friend always a friend and a lifelong one at that. You may not chat on the phone all the time but when you PCS cross country and need someone to check out a neighborhood for you as they live/lived there once. Don't hesitate to reach out so that you know what you are getting into. We have all been there once and are more than happy to help out.

Sylvia: Make sure that the 'necessities' are really necessities. We had what we thought were just necessities to take with us which was a small trailer with a microwave and our inflatable beds, etc., so that we could cook while we waited for our goods when we finally moved into our home, but it ended up taking up all the space when we finally figured out how much we really could have let the packers take. We thought keeping a 'few things' wouldn't be so much, but it was! So PURGE, PURGE, PURGE!

Julie: If you feed the movers, and give them dessert, they will do anything for you!

Kim: Any sense of control goes out the window the second orders are stamped.

Montana: Thoroughly check your belongings for creepy crawlies, after they've been in storage! A spider bite on your butt is not a welcoming PCS gift! OUCH!!

Kimberly: Always stay at a hotel with a pool so the kids can get all their energy out after a long day of driving towards the new duty station.

Megan: Always make sure you have a pair of shoes! The packers packed all my shoes last time except one flip flop!

Karen: I learned that I have to pack as early as I can instead of last minute b/c then it'll be too stressful on me.

A big thank-you to all who listened in to the show and all the Army wives who participated in the Twitter party and Facebook chatter. You can listen to the show on  Army Wife Talk Radio anytime.


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

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