Salute to Spouses Blog

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Short PCS? Always Unpack

By Jenna Moede

When you move every few years, and sometimes every few months, why bother unpacking?

Military families know that a PCS lurks around every corner. And some spouses have given up on making their house their home.

I understand because, at first, I avoided making my house cozy too.  

When we first arrived in Cheyenne, I expected to PCS quickly. I reluctantly started moving into our first apartment.

I unpacked slowly and stuck mainly to the necessities: clothing, pots and pans and about a million electronic cords. Anything I hoped I wouldn’t miss, I kept in a disheveled heap in our spare room. I would even open boxes, peer in and then shove them aside if I didn’t feel like putting the contents away.

Then, after I thought I’d finished settling in, I questioned why I didn’t feel at home.

Three moves later, all in the same city, I began to understand why the first two places never felt like our own space. It wasn't. 

You can’t expect a place to feel like home when you haven’t put your own spin on it. When you distance yourself from your living space, like I did, you can’t expect to feel relaxed and comfortable.

So, here is what I have learned about military moves. 

First, unpack your boxes. All of them. Get out your winter jackets in the dead of summer, your momentos and the movies you haven’t watched in ages. Unpack everything you don’t think you’ll miss because most likely, those unessential items make your home feel the most pleasant.

Initially I had so much excitement about moving to a new place. Once we arrived, I disliked feeling confused by my detachment toward my home. It turns out that in order to feel settled, I actually had to settle in.

I know other spouses have felt the same way because I have noticed many of my friends leaving unpacked boxes in hidden corners. I see and feel their dissatisfaction with their surroundings. However, the effects of unpacking, and making yourself at home, seem immediate. Not only do the houses feel warmer and happier, but so do my friends.

My second tip, don’t leave your walls blank unless you really like them that way. Put your own personality into every room of your house.

I stared at blank, boring and cold white walls for months in our first place together, and I felt unattached to the space because of it.

I moved to Wyoming directly from college, where my friends had puttied posters, hung tapestries, and drawn their own wall décor. I missed color and life on walls. It didn’t always match and sometimes my taste differed from that of my friends, but every single place reflected the people that lived there, and that made it welcoming.

Third, try to stretch and condense your space as much as you need.

If you work at home, like I do for example, you might never feel settled without a workspace. That doesn’t mean that you need a dedicated office, but you can probably find a nice nook somewhere to set up to fill your needs.

This goes for everything, every room and every item that will make you feel happy. Every new house will have a different layout, number of rooms, and yard, but you can make any space work.

Your personal touches, like a picture of your friends or family, will make your house feel like a home more than anything else.

So besides the obvious, to make yourself at home, why do all of this? What if feeling at home doesn’t rank high on your priority list?

You should do it anyway. And I have two great reasons.

First, feeling at home will help you immerse yourself in your new location. If you never put down roots, each new place will feel more like a permanent vacation rather than a place that can leave a lasting impression on you as a person.

Second, when you put your heart into your house will make it more welcoming for your friends and family and whoever else may pay you a visit. If you make your house a place where others feel comfortable, they will look forward to dropping by and it may help you create lasting relationships and a useful network.

Those relationships could lead to potential careers, events and opportunities.

So, I encourage you to go ahead and live in your home. Make it your own. Decorate it however you like. Hang whatever you want, but most importantly unpack and put your heart into it.

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