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Do I Need It? What to Keep and What to Give Away on your Next Move

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By Caroline Schafer

How does someone decide what to keep and what to give away prior to a move (or even after a move)? It seems like it would be a relatively easy decision, but some things are harder to part with despite knowing that one doesn’t necessarily need it anymore. One thing is for sure, though, every military family who relocates will ask themselves these questions, and they may have to make tough decisions about what to keep and what to give away.

Air Force spouse Dr. Adam Evans, and his husband, Major Chad Ford, recently relocated to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Adam shares with Family how he and Chad decided what to keep and what to give away on their most recent PCS.

How many times have you moved as a military spouse, and do you purge items before packing?

We have moved two times, and we always purge before we start packing. It helps us get into the mindset as we prepare to relocate.

How do you decide what to keep and what to give away?

My hubby and I differ when it comes to this. He’s a pack rat. It’s important to him to keep everything for those “just in case” moments. Of course, I lived in fear for a long time that I would decide to throw something out, and then he would ask for it. And I’ve known him long enough to realize there’s that one chance that he may end up looking for a paperclip we just happened to save in a drawer for over a decade, but if we changed lifelong careers to become paperclip-wielding locksmith professionals… And now that it’s gone, he wants it. Ugh!

Now that I’m in my 30’s, I have a different outlook than I did before. I discovered Marie Kondo. [Marie Kondo is a Japanese organization expert and an author.] And I like her for three reasons.

•She seems cool and very kind to everyone. She’s brave or has a good wine collection because these folks she tidied are usually knee-deep in proverbial paper clips like us.

• Her first step is to take all of the things out so you can see them. This is something I do with my clothes. But Chad and I did this together, which was an eye opener for us. We got to see all our things, including those we never use.

•There are enough burdens in my life. Moving is a great time to release one by donating items I haven’t used in a year to our local base thrift store or Airman’s Attic so someone else can use them. I never realized what kind of weight “things” were on my shoulders until I let them go. It also helps us to have a greater appreciation for the items we choose to keep. As Marie says, when things don’t spark joy, I let them go. It makes the weight we carry mentally and physically lesser, and I look forward to releasing the things I no longer need to others so that I can discover new and appreciate the present in a state of gratitude for what I have.