As a military spouse, I’ve gotten used to the fact that, every few years I’m going to have to pack up my life and move. Each time, I get a little more comfortable with knowing what to expect and can mentally prepare myself for the change.

My first move as military spouse was from an Air Force base in New Mexico to Germany… yes, my first move was an overseas move. Talk about crazy! I had no idea what I was doing, and my husband wasn’t much help because it was his first move, too!

The days the movers are there can be very stressful. You’re focused on having eyes on all of the movers, all the time, and the kids and pets still need attention, too! On top of that, you’re mentally running a check in your mind hoping you haven’t forgotten to set aside anything you need. If you do, the movers pack it, and you won’t be seeing it for quite some time.

If you take the time beforehand to organize these five things before the movers come, you can ensure a smooth packing session and move.

Important paperwork – I like to use a file like this to contain and organize the important paperwork that should be kept with you at all times like birth certificates, marriage licenses and medical documents.

Toiletries – Along with pulling out and packing the clothes you’re keeping with you, separate the toiletries you will need in transition. After that, “package” your other toiletries for safe transit. In the past, I’ve used plastic wrap to seal anything liquid, and I’ve also used small plastic bags to contain them. This is beneficial because, in case a lid comes loose or breaks, hopefully, you won’t end up with lotion all over your favorite dress.

Food/perishables – Packers will pack everything. Seriously. Every. Single. Thing. So it’s best to have a plan for handling all of your food items beforehand. Technically, canned and boxed goods are allowed to be packed. However, it’s important to be aware of how long your items may be in transit and storage so that you can make the best decision for your family. One option is to have a “pantry party” where friends can come over and take any perishables that are up for grabs. This is a win for everyone. You don’t have to throw away a bunch of stuff, and your friends get stuff they need.

Valuables – This one probably speaks for itself. It is typically recommended not to send any jewelry with the movers for liability reasons. But, if you’re like me and most of your jewelry is from a cheap store like Claire’s, you probably wouldn’t be too devastated if something were to happen to it. But since it needs to get packed anyway, I put some in small Ziploc baggies, and packed others in little pill containers. I did keep the real stuff with me though!

And last, Necessities – for yourself, your pets and your kids. This will vary, but might include medications, paperwork (such as school records), and – yes – your child’s favorite stuffed animal. You know, the one that they can sense is missing even though they have 80 other animals that could get the job done?
And for your pets, you can’t forget the treats! They will deal with a lot of changes in the weeks to come, so be sure to spoil them some!

For the week leading up to the move, set aside time each day to focus on one of these five important categories. Words of caution: Doing more than one at a time may cause confusion and an incomplete review to make sure you have everything.

Also be sure to designate one room in the house for the items you’re keeping with you. Stick everything in that room, and shut the door (lock it if you can), during packing. This will help to ensure that all of your hard work to separate your items won’t go to waste when they are packed up by the movers.

And, always remember that you’re a rockstar! Almost any of the items mentioned above can be replaced in a worst case scenario. You got this!