The doorbell rings and it’s the movers, you’re not prepared, the movers roll their eyes… this is not a good way to start your PCS. PCSing is stressful enough, don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Every military spouse will tell you they have their own system when it comes to preparing for a PCS, but what if you have never had the military move you before… what should you do? Don’t stress, this military spouse is about to tell you exactly how to make the knock at your door be a happy time not an, “OMG” time.
Follow these simple steps and you will be just fine:
1. You should already have your appointment with the moving company in your area and a date should be set for them to come pack your HHGs.
2. I like to make sure I have bottles of water on-hand for the movers, as they work hard and it gets hot (especially in North Carolina in July… hint~hint). I also have donuts for my family and the movers because I think it’s a great way to say thank you.
3. Go to your local hardware store or PX and purchase yellow caution tape, you will need it for the belongings you DO NOT want the movers to pack. Also purchase different color dots (i.e hence the red dot, blue dot, green dot) for the room assignments and a large black permanent marker.
4. Make sure to stop at the commissary and purchase paper plates, napkins or paper towels, plastic utensils, plastic cups and all the snacks you want to take on the road trip to your next duty station.
5. Take pictures of your belongings (the night before the movers come)… YES everything you own. Make sure there is a date on the camera (if you don’t have a date setting on your camera take the picture with your phone next to the items showing the date), it is also a good idea to videotape them as well. This is so you have documented the condition your belongings were in prior to the move. (Have all the electronic items on in the pictures, so they are shown in working condition.)
6. Write down all the serial numbers for your expensive items, such as TV, stereo, DVD players, Blue-Ray players, video game systems, etc.
7. Remove all items from the walls. The movers will not take things off your walls so make sure this is already done before they get there.
8. Take everything you don’t want the movers to pack, place it in the corner of the living room (or bathroom that is empty) away from other belongings and wrap the yellow caution tape around it. Tell the movers when they arrive not to pack the items wrapped in yellow caution tape. Examples of what you should wrap in yellow caution tape are: clothes for at least a week, all your bathroom items, shoes, toys for the kiddos, food for your doggies/cats, dog leashes, dog/cat food bowls, books, DVD’s for the road trip, your laptop with charger, phone charger, military members first weeks worth of uniforms/gear and family heirlooms or other irreplaceable items. Everything you plan to transport personally in your vehicle (POV) basically.
9. Assign each room a color (this is where you will use the colored dots you purchased at the hardware store or PX) and after each box in that room is packed and sealed put the rooms corresponding colored dot on the box. For example: I assign the kitchen red, so every box from the kitchen has a red dot on it. This way when you are ready to have the movers unload your belongings you can tell them to put all the boxes with the red dot in the kitchen.
10. Once each box has been sealed by the movers take the large black permanent marker and sign your initials across the tape on the top of each box. This ensures you have seen the box sealed and ready for transport.
11. At this point most of my kitchen is packed so I usually order pizza for my family and always ask the movers if they would like to eat pizza for lunch with us. I like to treat them to lunch… it’s just a nice gesture.
12. Sometimes it takes two days for the movers to completely pack your home, document the boxes and load them on the truck, so plan ahead for this. In other words you may be ordering out two evenings in a row.
No one can ever prepare 100% for each PCS, but the best thing you can do is prepare as much as possible. The military life always has the tendency to throw you a curve ball so the best advice from one military wife to another is prepare, prepare, prepare… and… plan, plan, plan.