You might have noticed the annual signs. When moving trucks start appearing on military bases and neighborhoods around the world, those trucks signify one chapter closing and another about to begin: PCS season

If your PCS is right around the corner (both literally and figuratively) or if you’re in an off season and taking a breather this round but looking for ways to actively help someone who is moving, this article is for you.

PCS season, moving truck

A Permanent Change of Station (PCS) is a right of passage the majority of military families will experience at least once in their career. While there are tons of posts out there on how to actually have a smooth move, this post is slightly different.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase, “Let me know if I can help you,” more times than we can count. And while people often say it with the best intentions in mind, we also know they hardly ever follow through with their kind offer. 

How You Can Help Someone Who is Moving

ways to help someone move. pcs season

Here are five practical ways people can actually help someone who is moving. (And if someone forwarded this post to you—thank you for taking the extra step to actually help; it means more than you’ll ever know):

Bring Them Food

Let’s kick things off with one of the easiest ways you can help someone PCSing: food. While everyone loves a home-cooked meal, especially if you’ve been without your kitchen for a hot minute, something as simple as a gift card to a restaurant is super helpful.

Moving can get expensive, and one of those expenses that is having to feed your family while not actually having a kitchen. Eating out and take-away meals add up, so if you have the means to create a meal for someone PCSing, that’s always my number one suggestion. 

Other ideas to help feed your friends during a PCS:

  • Create a meal train during move-out week and beyond, so the military family moving can rest easy knowing a hot meal is coming their way
  • Bring them coffee, especially once their coffee maker is packed away in a box. 
  • Making dinner for your family? Double it and bring those extras over to them. You’re already making a meal already, so it’s just about doubling those ingredients.
  • Put together some freezer meals (if they still have access to a freezer) and loan them a crockpot. 

Do Their Laundry

Seriously. Having friends offer to let us use their washers and dryers over the years is something I will never forget. This is extra helpful if the military family moving is headed overseas and had to sell their washer and dryer.

Having to haul clothes to a laundromat or use a hotel’s machines is straight up annoying.

You don’t have to even touch their dirty clothes. My friends would let me into their house. I’d toss our stuff in the washer, turn it on, and was in and out in less than five minutes. 

Other times, it was a great excuse to take a break and sit and chat with a friend while the laundry did its thing. 

Watch Their Kids

Offering to watch kids during a move can be a literal lifesaver. Some military branches actually offer extra (free) hours of childcare specifically during a PCS. But if that’s not available or the military family moving doesn’t have access to something like that, then offering to help “babysit” is so helpful.
 
If there’s a DITY (do-it-yourself) move happening, it’s helpful to have the kids out of the area packing. Whether that means taking them to another area of the home or physically out of the house is up to both parties involved.
 
If the military is doing the move, then it’s great to have childcare lined up for the pack out and move out days so little ones aren’t running around while extra people are in the house doing their packing/moving job. 

Take Their Stuff

Once those orders come out, military families usually start (or speed up) the process of decluttering. That often means that they’re left with things they don’t need anymore. 
 
This can be anything:
 
  • electronics that they can’t/don’t want to take overseas with them
  • perishable stuff in the fridge (in the days just before they move)
  • liquids (paint, aerosol, gasoline)
  • candles
  • weather gear or apparel they will not need in their new home
  • other things that are restricted from moving or that they simply don’t want anymore
 
If you notice people on the verge of getting rid of things (either selling or donating), help share their listings so they’ll sell faster, especially if it’s a bigger item that they must get rid of before the move. Or you can offer to take the donated items off their hands. 

Help with a DITY Move

Live near the military family moving and know they plan on doing a move all by themselves without the military’s help? Instead of asking if they need help, ask when you can come over to help pack/move out. Simply changing our words implies more of an actionable response.
 
If you’ve got the muscle and the desire, putting those both to good use will be extra helpful on moving day. Not crazy about sweating on moving day? Offer to help pack boxes instead.

How do you help someone who is moving?

I’d love to hear your ideas on how you can help a family during a military PCS. Leave your ideas in the comments, and let us know if any of these resonated with you. 

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Jessica Lynn, a seasoned Air Force wife and mom to three young kids, shares the good, the bad, and the laughable when it comes to life. You can find her talking about exciting parenting wins or her mom mishaps, local favorites in America, adventures around the globe (currently stationed in Germany), or sharing easy, no-fuss, family-friendly recipes; she likes to keep things real. In fact, she just wrapped up a year-long deployment and an OCONUS PCS, right smack dab in the middle of the pandemic…and lives to talk about it. When she’s not out exploring Europe or hurdling her little humans, you can find her reading a book, scrolling through instagram (come say, “hey” @jesstagirl), or taking care of her first love: her blog of 16+ years, JessicaLynnWrites.com.

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