7 Tips to Get Ready for a Quick PCS
At a friend’s house some years ago, I noticed several rooms in her house were empty and taped off like crime scenes. Curious, of course, I wondered aloud about it and was informed these rooms were packed and prepped for PCS and now off limits. The family was down to living in just a couple of rooms in the house.
While this might sound extremely organized, the strangest part to me was that, while they had orders in hand, their impending move was 6 months away. Six months!!
While “to each his own” applies here, it’s been years since we had that much notice for a move, much less that kind of time to obsess over details and ready our belongings and ourselves. In fact, two months to plan would seem like a luxury at this point, as the past decade or so has seen us with short-notice PCS orders more often than not.
If you’re facing your own version of hurry up and move, here are a few tips that have seen us through!
1) First things first: paperwork in order.
While your spouse will take care of the military side of the paperwork (Hopefully—if you’re PCS’ing alone, I feel ya and will send good thoughts your way!), it’s helpful to have all important documents in one handy spot.
Create a PCS Binder to organize your “to-do” checklists, as well as documents such as copies of orders, powers of attorney if you need them (i.e. if the military member will be deployed/TDY), child custody/support documents, school and veterinary records, medical records that will be hand carried, personal paperwork like passports and birth certificates, and household goods/shipping documents.
It helps settle my brain down a little if all important paperwork is contained in one spot vs. having to constantly locate it.
Download Quick and Easy Steps to Prepare for Your PCS Move for checklists, timeframes, and more.
2) Get appointments on the calendar.
Whether it’s medical clearances, shipping your vehicle, or the walkthrough with your landlord or housing, schedule important appointments as soon as official orders come through. That way, you’re not clearing housing, visiting the vet, picking up school records, and moving the family into temporary lodging all on the same day…although with a short notice move, you may have a day like that regardless of how much you plan!
3) If you’re a homeowner, list your house ASAP.
Whether you’ll be renting your home out or selling it, make the most of your limited time and get it prepped and ready to show as quickly as possible.
Utilize MilitaryByOwner’s vast experience with military families for resources regarding home selling and renting. Have a Plan B in place in case the home doesn’t move. You can find military family-friendly Realtors and property management services here.
4) Start using up your pantry.
While “ramen-broccoli-hot mustard special” may not top your family’s list of favorite meals, now’s the time to use up all the perishables and bulk grocery items you can’t pack.
One family I know has “family potluck nights” before each move, with each person creating a dish from only what’s available in the pantry/fridge in the interest of not wasting!
5) Purge like crazy.
This is something you can do whether you have orders in hand or not. Consider what you’d rather not move across the country or around the world and be ruthless.
Get rid of seasonal clothing you don’t think you’ll be using in the foreseeable future and extra furniture you don’t want taking up your weight allowance. This is also a great time to cull kids’ toy and clothing collections. Every item should go in one of three piles: keep, donate/sell, or throw out.
6) Mind the family.
During the hectic pace of a short-notice move, you can feel buried by all the important tasks. But the upheaval can wreak havoc in your family’s life, especially for children who may feel ambivalent about moving with so little notice.
Whether you have children or not, it’s important to allow time to say goodbyes to people and places or even simply schedule in some downtime. It will all get done and you will get to the new location, regardless of whether you feel as organized as you’d like or not; but remember that kids—and you! —need some extra attention during this time.
7) Look ahead!
Learn about the new location and create some excitement surrounding the move, whether it’s through social media or connecting with the overseas sponsor if your PCS is overseas. Are you aware of the youth sponsorship program for military kids? This amazing program can help ease the sting of moving for the youngest in your family.
While a short notice PCS will likely not be picture-perfect, be sure to enjoy one perk of these intense moves: it will be over quickly!