Spring cleaning for a military family hits a little differently. It’s a time to clean, and as the cleaning occurs, purge. Purge because a PCS or PCA is in the very near future. And while military families worldwide may not actually know when the move is happening, or even where the end destination will be, the reality is that preparing earlier is better. This is for all the military families that may move this summer, and even if you don’t move, this is a great time to spring clean the PCS/PCA way.
– Sentimental items – while it may be difficult to move great-grandma’s champagne flutes or your uncle’s cigar box in terms of packing and moving around the world that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep them. Family momentos aren’t items you can purchase later, so worth keeping.
– Photos – this might be a no-brainer, but worth mentioning.
– Basics – don’t toss things you need to purchase later. This might be easier at the moment, but it adds to your personal cost burden. Don’t toss or donate your dishes and pots and pans just to buy new ones so you don’t have to pack or move them. Inflation is not your friend in this.
– Clothes for different seasons – if you have clothes in sizes that you or your family members will wear in the coming years for the winter season and you are living in Hawaii, you may not want to keep them. However, replacing those items could add up in cost if you move to New York next year. The needs and desires of the military always supersede family members’ desires.
– Sports equipment – if there are items you are still using seasonally – keep them.
Always have a donation bag or bin ready to go. Clothes the kids have outgrown, dishes no longer used – these can be used by others. Consider these other items to donate:
– DVDs – if you are streaming it all anyway, you probably don’t need to cart those movies worldwide. Libraries gratefully take these donations.
– CDs – same goes for DVDs; if you are streaming music on an audio service, you may not need to keep all the CDs. Keep a few that are meaningful but it might be time to donate the rest to the library.
– Books – This category also weighs a ton, depending on the books. Consider donating books you may not reference or read frequently to the local library. You can always borrow a book if you have access to a library. Keep those books that you will use, re-read, or reference or are sentimental. If the library won’t take the books, look for a book recycler.
– Food You Won’t Eat or Use – If you have any food you won’t use before a move, don’t wait until the day you are leaving to toss it; donate it now to a local food pantry.
– Clothing – this is an easy one for children who have outgrown clothes. It is difficult to do when you don’t know what clothing type you will need for the next duty station. Whatever you do find, donate to the local base thrift shop or local Veterans organization.
– Stuffed Toys – If you have reached a time in your life that it is time to let go of some stuffed animals, donate them to your local animal shelter.
– Old towels – another donation item that animal shelters need are towels, and they will happily take old towels.
– Linens – Animal shelters often take linens as well to line crates.
– Kitchenware – gently used kitchen appliances like toaster ovens, blenders, and dish sets are welcome at local thrift shops and Goodwill. Check with the local military base thrift shop as well; many new families look to purchase kitchen items at the on-base thrift shops, especially if they don’t have a vehicle.
– Gifts – this one is tricky as it can be a gift from a family member, but if your grandma made a sweater you will never wear, it might be time to donate it.
– Infant care items – if you are out of the baby-raising stage of life, it is time to let go of those infant items.
While it is difficult to throw away things, especially when they have memories attached to them, it is pertinent before a PCS to discard broken, holey, falling apart items. Toss any expired pantry goods. If your couch is falling apart, or the mattress is only being held together by its fitted sheet, it’s probably time to bulk trash those items too.
Don’t forget outdated electronics. Depending on where you live, you may have to pay for e-recycling, but it is better than moving it to another state and having to dump it then.
Any loose papers you no longer need – shred any items with personal information, but recycle the rest.
A Note about Yard Sales
Yard sales used to be common practice, but sitting out and selling your items takes time. People haggle so you may sell the Osh Koshs your child first walked in for 25 cents. Is that worth it? While the tax write-off may not reach the amount required to write off donating may be the better way. It will save you time and energy and help others in the community.
The key to moving preparations is the earlier, the better. While you may get last-minute orders, it is important to prep in the spring whether you are moving or not. Doing an annual prep means less stress and less work on PCS years.
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