In Part 3 (Check out Part 1 and Part 2) of our series on moving, let’s talk about Packing Day, what to expect when en route to your new home, and what to do once you arrive:

The Kay Family, Christmas on the Move, 1995

The Kay Family, Christmas on the Move, 1995

Packing Day

On the day the packers arrive, be prepared. Know how many packers will come and how much they plan on accomplishing that day. If they do not show up on time, have too few workers, or stop working excessively early, then call the representative from relocation office or TMO (Traffic Management Office.) If you have a friend (or two) who have offered to help you on that day, then have them stay in a room where packers are working while you are with other packers.

Ask for standup wardrobe boxes where you can keep the clothing on hangers. Not only do the laydown boxes wrinkle more easily, you have to rehang perhaps hundreds of items. If you have a special collectible such as an antique clock or figurine, ask the packers to create a custom packing box for that item with extra packing inside the box.

  • Mark it! And Bless ‘Em!: Cindy Musselwhite, an Army spouse, says, “Make sure the boxes are marked appropriately. I was once six month pregnant when we moved and thought we had all the boxes marked ‘clothes’ sent to our temporary quarters. My maternity clothes never arrived and I finally had to break down and buy more. When we got on post I was eight months pregnant and we finally found the clothes in a box marked Garden Hoses.” Jody Dale, an Army Chaplain’s wife says, “Carry a magic marker and put specific labels on the boxes. It will make for a less hectic unpacking day. Put all the clothes and personal items that you’re taking with you in your car, or put them in a neighbor’s house.”
  • Take Care of Your Packers: Jody also adds, “We bless the movers/packers with food, kindness and laughter. We believe that many people may pick on them and abuse them, giving them a hard time due to past experiences. We have had some great guys and gals respond to our kindness by being extra careful with our stuff.” The morning they arrive, let the crew know you’re buying pizza for lunch and ask them what kind of soda they like. These are small offers of thoughtfulness but they mean a lot. It can also mean the difference between the packer throwing your stuff in a box versus packing your prized possessions!

En Route

It’s very common for families who are relocating to want to visit extended family members and friends as they travel from point A to point B. It’s important, however, to remember that this is a stressful time when you may not be at your personal best! Moving is one of the top ten stress factors that families can face and the added stresse of a military move can make it even harder. Carefully consider who you are going to visit and how much time you will be adding to an already challenging road trip. Have your extended family and friends read this section of the book so they will know that you are under considerable stress and your entire nuclear family may not be operating at their peak in terms of propriety and thoughtfulness.   An extra special amount of grace is required when hosting a family en route.

Another good rule of thumb is for you to travel no more than the daily allowed miles for per diem compensation. These mileage numbers are usually lower than what “conquer the road at any cost” types will like. However, it’s critical that you think of your kids and spouse in this big adventure. Map our your hotel route and search the Internet for ones with pools and free breakfast buffets. Plan to leave after a good breakfast and arrive at the next destination early enough to enjoy the swimming pool and rest up for the next day.

Once You Arrive


Jody Dale says, “Label each room in the house with a number, so you can simply tell the movers to put it in room #3. Know exactly where you want large pieces of furniture placed and assembled—especially the beds. I’ve even marked off these areas in a room with masking tape.”

Moving is a surefire way of determining whether you own your things—or they own you!   I was so upset when the movers broke the delicate leg of my Grandma’s antique cherry wood side table—it made my stomach hurt! It’s best to expect some things to be broken and realize that we can either get it fixed or we can’t. Being upset for months or years is only going to give us an ulcer!


  • Be Patient: It’s important to realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day and your new home won’t be put together in one day either! Pick one room at a time and concentrate on getting it squared away. Play some upbeat, energetic music. If you’re playing rock and roll, grab your mop handle and sing karoke. Your kids will think you’ve lost your mind, but they wil also get a much deserved laugh after a big transition.


  • Get Help: Have the movers put together the beds the first night and then have them come back again to unpack boxes if you want their help. We usually dismiss them that first day, but I’ve had other friends who schedule them back in three days just to unpack her nick-nacks that go in several curio cases—it takes her many hours to do what two packers and herself do in one hour.

If you have kids, then put them in charge of unpacking their own rooms, giving them only as much responsibility as their ages dictate—anything else will only lead to frustration on your part and theirs. If your sponsor or new neighbors offer to make you dinner—accept! You can return the favor when they make a future move and need a meal while staying in temporary housing

Even if your children will not be enrolled in base daycare on a regular basis, consider letting them go for the first few days when your house is a complete wreck. They will see more of the home they remember each night when they come home from childcare and they’ll get to play with new friends while you work at home.

If your new lawn needs immediate attention and your equipment is in the bottom of a box who knows where, then ask your neighbors if they know of a teen who takes care of lawns. Even if you don’t employ yard care regularly, this one time job will be worth the expense as it relieves the pressure to get this done right away.

If you’re living on base and notice things that are in need of repair in your new home, then report them immediately. The same would apply if you’re renting a civilian dwelling or apartment—get the landlord to make things right as soon as possible. It will cut down on additional nit picky stressors!

©2016-2020 Ellie Kay


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