Unless you're the type of person that maintains a superbly organized home, we all have random stuff. Stuff that follows us from move to move. Stuff that we don’t always unpack. Stuff that we hang on to because it may come in handy at some point down the road.
In the midst of a PCS myself, I’ve been mulling over our abundance of stuff.
- Maybe I should have spent more time going through cupboards and drawers?
- Maybe I should have learned more from MilitaryByOwner relocation articles?
- Maybe I should simply follow the old adage, “Do more with less.”
Just for funsies, I asked a few military spouses this question: “With your last PCS, what do you wish you hadn’t packed?”
Here are their answers...see what you would add!
1) Disposable food storage containers.
Trust me, I know the joy of finding just the right size of carton for that last serving of lasagna. A handy food storage container with a miraculous matching lid is worth its weight in gold. But does it really need to travel 1600 miles?
Tip: Think of it as a small way to make a fresh start. Vow to find new food storage containers at the new assignment and toss the old into the recycle bin.
2) Gift baskets.
As thoughtful as it is to receive gifts in pretty wicker baskets, when crunched in moving boxes, baskets rarely go the distance.
Tip: Before the move, consider donating your basket collection to a local thrift shop or donation center.
3) Dry goods.
Imagine the first morning after unpacking. Hungry kiddos dance around your new kitchen. The anticipation level is high for Dad’s famous pancakes. However, nothing ruins a morning like when the pancake mix tastes blah due to being shipped across the country. Donut run? Pronto!
Tip: Before the packing crew arrives, try your best at meal planning with remaining pantry items. Or, before you move, donate unopened, unexpired pantry staples to a local food bank. No good can come after pantry goods swelter in a mid-summer moving truck.
4) Magazines from the living room.
Unless there are particular issues you were looking forward to paging through, opening a moving box and finding a stack of unread magazines is often disheartening. If you didn’t have time to read them at the last place, will you have more time to peruse them now?
Tip: If the magazines are brimming with colorful images such as birds, flowers, gardens, craft ideas, home design, etc., offer the magazines on a donation website such as Freecycle. Perhaps a crafty parent, teacher, or elder care provider may pick them up and clip pages for creative art projects.
5) Custom-fit draperies.
There was a moment when the custom-made curtains for those cute sidelight entry windows seemed like a great investment. Then, you moved. Turns out those draperies aren’t needed with a different style of entry at your new home.
Tip: Do you have a friendly neighbor at your previous assignment with a similar style of home? Perhaps they would be interested in your curtains? If they agree, consider creating a little care package with a postcard or token from your new assignment to add in with the drapery mailing.
6) Clothes that don’t fit the climate.
Living in New England, it was important to have warm winter gear in the closet. Those clothes may not be as useful if you now live in warm and sunny Florida!
Tip: Consider hanging on to the wintertime goods until the weather changes. Then, give to a local shelter or donation center. Often, the homeless are in need of warm durable clothing.
7) Oversized furniture.
Movie night. Game day. Reality show binge watching. Your u-shaped sectional couch has been the go-to spot for downtime. Yes, the large piece fits perfect in your current home, but not all family rooms are created equal.
Tip: Before you move, ask for a floor plan with specific room dimensions of the new house. This may help you to decide if your large furniture will fit comfortably at the next location. If the couch won’t make the move, consider listing the sectional on a yard sale Facebook group.
8) Furniture that needs a makeover to be functional.
One rainy Saturday spent watching a marathon amount of home improvement shows and suddenly, I was geared towards refurbishing well-loved furniture. I thought it might become a new hobby. Turns out it became a reminder of another crafty project that I just didn’t have enough time to accomplish.
Tip: Television stars on home improvement shows make restoration projects look deceptively easy. Before investing in tools and supplies, consider how much time and attention your project ideas may actually demand.
9) Flower bulbs.
Honestly, I was caught up in the moment of a local tulip festival! The apron-wearing clerk assured me that the flower bulbs would travel well in the sturdy packaging. It seemed like the perfect souvenir, as we bid farewell to our assignment out West and headed East.
Tip: Squirrels in Ohio think artisan flower bulbs from California are a gourmet meal. The critters will even crawl into a parked car with its windows down to enjoy a bulb buffet. Lesson learned.
10) Books that really aren’t worth a re-read.
With frequent military moves, not every book club suggestion is worthy of display on your shelf. Sort through your personal library before the packers arrive. Keep your favorites. Share the rest with others.
Tip: Consider finding a Little Free Library for donating books.
11) Knick-knacks that collect more dust than interest.
In a tender little article (which I found in a magazine I actually read before we moved!) author Lee Woodruff states, "I will try to keep the items that bring me pleasure or that anchor my family to our past."
A military spouse may find it easy to be sentimental as we travel from place to place. Besides, who doesn’t love to tell the story behind the paperweight from "The World's Largest Ball of Twine"?
Tip: Cherish good times with family and friends. Keep in mind the items that trigger those special memories, but try to limit your collection of keepsakes.
No matter what stuff you choose to pack and what you leave behind, we here at MilitaryByOwner wish you a great move. And if your PCS doesn't go as planned, you’ll quickly learn to handle whatever occurs and to keep your sense of humor throughout!