Tackling the PCS Purge Before The PCS

moving box behind basket of books
(Alleea Oliver/DVIDS)

I have a basket sitting in my living room that houses a tower of my children’s schoolwork. Throughout the school year I ooh’ed and aah’ed as my kids pulled the papers out of their folders, then tossed them on top of the growing tower. Now that the school year is over, it’s time to do something with that tower. It’s time to purge.

I promised myself that I would keep only the most unique artwork, the funniest writing assignments and the schoolwork that showed off my kids’ academic progress. But when I finished examining each paper to determine whether it would land in the “save” pile or the “recycle” pile, I discovered I had failed miserably at my attempts at purging. The sentimental sap that I am, I wanted to save everything!

My mom saved everything that held the slightest sentimental value from my childhood. Yearbooks, charm bracelets, dolls, t-shirts, a suitcase filled with half-naked, half-melted Barbies. Those items, alongside buckets of my brother’s Legos and Matchbox cars, took up valuable real estate in my parents’ attic until my parents got sick of them and passed them on to me (where they now take up valuable real estate in MY attic).

Unfortunately, I can’t save everything like my mother did. I can’t save all of my kids’ schoolwork and all of their cutest outfits. I can’t save the dollhouses and stuffed animals and Thomas the Tank trains and Barbies. We are a military family after all, destined to move multiple times before we reach our final destination. It’s simply unrealistic and impractical to think I’m going to lug all that stuff from house to house to house until my children are old enough to inherit them.

As I sit here and look at the pile of my kids’ schoolwork that didn’t make it to the recycling bin, I can’t help but think of all the purging I’ll have to do when it’s time to PCS again. I know it would make my life a whole lot easier in the long run to tackle the PCS purge gradually, to get rid of unwanted stuff now, long before the PCS -- instead of waiting until the movers arrive.

With that in mind, I guess I need to revisit that tower of schoolwork and do a bit more tossing. I might even keep going and start bagging up all those Transformers my son hasn’t touched in years or the puzzles my daughter has outgrown. And sorry, Mom, I think that Strawberry Shortcake house you’ve kept in your attic since the ’80s might soon be on eBay.

Do you wait until a move to PCS purge your unused junk or do you tackle the PCS purge gradually?

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