Commentary

May 17, 2012

Looking past packing boxes — a spouse’s guide to moving

By Jennifer Lindquist
Army Spouse
Jennifer-Lindquist
Lindquist

As my husband and I packed boxes to move on post one weekend, I was struck by the fluidity of our motions. My husband gracefully unplugged and unhooked our entertainment system and put the components in original boxes with the proficiency of a Swiss watchmaker. I packed the kitchen in two hours, snuggling glasses and plates into their temporary homes. With four temporary duty moves in five years, the military, has turned us into expert movers. With a few simple tips, packing and moving can be transformed from a stressful situation to an art form that paves the way for future adventures.

Whether moving a state away or moving internationally, it is imperative to have a few boxes to sustain a household while waiting for household goods to arrive — the period which I call house camping. This prevents unneeded Target or Walmart shopping sprees for duplicate items.

House camping boxes vary from spouse to spouse, but these basic items help us survive the transition period: paper towels; toilet paper; frying pan; sauce pan; set of plastic bowls, cups, plates and silverware; dish soap; blow-up mattress with sheets; pillows and a blanket; bath towels and washcloths; fold-up chairs; coffee maker; power cords and car chargers for all electronics; painkillers, bandages and other over-the-counter medications; and a roll of quarters for laundry.

The day our shipment is scheduled, I pack up our “camping” items and put them away, ready for the next move.

It is also important to save original boxes for expensive devices such as speakers, mixers and televisions.

This prevents movers from trying to force items into boxes that are too small. Although boxes can be a pain to store when the device is in use, finding storage space for a few boxes beats hearing the heart-stopping rattle of a box that should be silent.

As a military spouse, I have great pride in my independence; however, when it comes to a move, I am not afraid to ask or pay for help. A cleaning service can prepare a household for inspection quicker and more effectively, guaranteeing a return in deposit. (Plus, they clean the oven.)

Movers are required to help unpack, but are sometimes hesitant to offer this service unless they are asked. Not only do they remove the annoying white packing paper from dishes and glasses, but they also take packing materials with them, preventing in-box landslides.

I’m not going to lie and say there are not obstacles in moving, even if you have a tried-and-true system down. Things will still get broken, and you’ll have to make a few Target runs. However, being prepared, asking for help and properly packing valuables will help boost confidence and reduce stress levels.

(Editor’s note: Jennifer Lindquist is a military spouse who wrote a column, Military Mrs., for the “Fort Still Cannoneer” when her husband was assigned to the Oklahoma installation. Her articles will occasionally appear in “The Fort Huachuca Scout.”)




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