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I have moved every 9 months to 3 years, my entire life. People ask all the time, ’How many times have you moved?To be honest, I have never counted. Too many, it’s a badge of honor.

To me, it’s my life.

 

When I first moved as an Army Spouse (CONUS), I made some “rookie” choices:

 

  • I taped every glass fronted picture with an X, to prevent the glass from shattering.
  • I carried ALL of my jewelry, photo albums, and silver.
  • My suitcases were packed to the gills and in the days before the ‘cloud’, I hand carried most of the filing cabinet. 

 

Now, married for 27 years, having moved CONUS and OCONUS repeatedly, things are more streamlined.  Here are my take aways:

 

  • COLOR ALL OVER THE PARTS BOX – make it noticeable! Put a small tool kit and an air tag in it.
  • Assign each kid a color and have them color the boxes in their room.  
  • Don’t waste your time taping the glass of your pictures. If they are going to break, it usually stays in the box.
  • Take your ‘real/sentimental’ jewelry with you and remember to bring it in the hotel with you.  After taking such care of it, you wouldn’t want it stolen.
  • Take your most important photos along for the ride.  If you are going overseas, you will realize you will have to ‘let go and let God’. You can’t carry it all on the plane. Pick a few of your favorites or take pics of the pics! 

 

Forget the silver! Insure it and Let the movers take it! 

 

  • When packing your suitcases, one should be a carry on with the essentials for the days you will be on the move. This is the suitcase you carry on the airplane and into the hotel.
  • Put the rest in the big suitcases, making sure to put some of each item in it.  Leave it in the car or check it onto the airplane.  That way if you lose a suitcase on the way, you still have a little bit of everything you’ll need. 
  • In the end, what really matters is your family, not the possessions you’ve collected on the way. 

 

Which leads me to the Binder…

 

After years of carrying way too much paper, I took one of my kids zip up binders and filled it with 5 clear, zipped, pencil cases and a lot of sheet protectors.

binderI filled the pencil cases with passports, social security cards, immunization records, international drivers licenses, check books, and stamps. 

The first sheet protector had 10 copies of my husband’s orders in it. That’s the first thing you need when signing your child up for school overseas!

Then I organized the paperwork from oldest to youngest to include birth certificates, wills, marriage certificate, graduation certificates or report cards, and any educational testing to prove a child needs differentiation; gifted or IEP.

The back of the binder has the car registration, house deeds, life insurance, pet documents, the moving inventory, and a copy of statements from companies you work with often. 

The binder is hand carried on the airplane and into our hotel rooms. When I’ve finally arrived at my new duty station, the binder is put in a special place, intact.

When going to enroll kids in activities or school, I take the whole binder with me.  It has everything anyone could ask for. Now, my family just asks for the binder when they need something. 

They know if it’s important, it’s in there. And when I prepare to move again, I take it out and go through the paperwork- tossing some of it and replacing other pieces. 

Remember, you can plan everything perfectly for a move, but when it’s all said and done, the FULL trash can could be in the box with your decorative couch pillows, the table could be missing a leg, or a suitcase could be in Alaska. 

 

Just roll with it.  Your binder is all organized!

 

 

*For more moving tips, check out our PODCAST with Kayla Geblein.

 

 

Author

  • Laura Holland

    An Army Brat, Spouse, and now MOM, Laura holds a Bachelor’s in Human Services Psychology and a Master’s in Education from Marymount University. She has taught elementary school in various roles and locations throughout the globe. During her time as an Army spouse, she held various positions in spouses’ clubs, school PTAs, layette programs, city planning committees, garrison leadership groups, and FRG leadership and senior spouse roles. She is the daughter of a career Army officer who moved 12 times across the US and Germany as an Army brat. She met her husband at her parent’s house in Heidelberg, Germany. Together, they have 4 children and have moved 11 times throughout the US, Germany, and South Korea. Her husband retired from the Army in 2021 after 31 years of service and now works for the Army in a senior civilian role. To top it all off, her oldest child is now a LT in Germany. Her support of the Army is not over!

2 Comments

  1. Katherine Iooss

    Great tips here! Suggestion: place the binder in a fireproof/water proof carry bag.

    Reply
    • Kathleen Palmer

      Thanks Katherine- excellent addition to the tips! 🙂

      Reply

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