Our movers came and went yesterday, and our home is mostly empty now. Everything echoes, and my brain is slightly mushier than before. (Haha) Somehow, I’ve live to tell this tale. I have survived our first step to PCS with three kids under 5! I thought I’d share my tips and tricks for PCS-survival with you.
- Childcare: NO, REALLY. Your neighbor or friend won’t have a problem watching your kiddos for a few hours while you guide the packers through your home, and sign paperwork. It’s practically impossible to navigate this day with kids who don’t know what “no” means yet, or like my kids who just refuse to hear it. (Trust me, I tried it. Then I called my lovely neighbor and she was delighted to help!) All in all, you’ll feel SO much better if you get a sitter for the day. Asking for help is one of the best things you can do for your sanity. This also applies to precious fur babies! The last thing you want on top of PCS stress, is to lose your animals. Lock them up in a room that won’t be opened, or get a sitter! The front/back doors are always open when movers are here because they’re constantly in and out.
- Be the boss: initiate a forward conversation with your movers to establish the idea that you know what you want and how you want it. If they’re good movers, they’ll quickly comply. Maybe I’m a little crazy about my stuff being packed (but if I could do it myself OCONUS -> CONUS I would) Before my movers even walked in the door I let them know I wanted them to either work in a single room together, or a maximum of two rooms together so I can keep my eyes on them (but mostly eyes on my boxes and my items getting packed. I was terrified of breakage this time).
- MARK EVERYTHING: Often times things get packed even though the owners have specified verbally what is and is not to be packed. But here lies the problem… they can’t remember if the toothbrush on the counter, or the trash can filled with trash, diapers on the dryer, or important documents are supposed to stay or go and frankly – they’re in too much of a hurry to stop and ask so they usually pack it all! Which is fine, because you have LABELED everything. I used sticky notes for everything! “Do not pack” was pretty sufficient. I also taped off rooms that were not getting packed with blue painters tape. Door frame to door frame, I put a huge X (I also locked the doors because it was a mess of suitcases! And my cats were in there).
- Electronics: I am not one for allowing my children to have tablets every day, or while shopping at whatnot – I’m glad it works for some! But my kids would still be cranky with or without them. Anyway, here’s where I draw the line ________. We own tablets for the kids, but to be honest the night before movers came was the first day we charged them in months. Now that we have no TV and only a backpack full of toys (for 3 kids…. probably should have left out more.) it’s totally necessary. A bare house means loud echoes and whiny children. With less than 20 days before we fly… living in an empty home, my sanity is feeling a little more important now. So – we have freetime app on their tablets and they’re able to download ALL of the kid friendly apps and shows their tiny hearts desire. And I’m OKAY with it!
- last but not least- pick your battles: I can’t say this enough. Moving can be so stressful on its own, but add kids, cats and a spouse to the mix that you’re trying to keep happy, picking your battles is an important one (that I still am working on!) If you want to sit back and let the packers do as they please, do it! If your kiddos want a snack before the takeout you ordered for dinner comes… let it happen! Staying in the mom role but allowing yourself to let go of the small stuff will keep you (mostly) calm and collected through the first stages of your travel adventure.
Now that packing and moving is complete I shall sit in my empty quiet bathroom, and take a much needed hot bath to relax! And I won’t forget the wine definitely giving myself a pat on the back for this one.
Written by: Madison Lawrence, Lead Doula of Stars and Stripes Doulas of Kansas