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4 Ways to Manage Without Your Stuff During a Coronavirus-Extended PCS

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(Benjamin Watson/DVIDS)

There's a certain sense of expectation that military families will be without their household goods for a period of time during a move. That time ranges from a few days for a door-to-door move to as long as 60 days for an OCONUS move.

And in preparation for those moves, you keep things back -- packing them in your car, your suitcase or mailing them to yourself at the last minute. The list generally includes air mattresses, a shower curtain and toys for the kids. Or maybe you're like me and include your Instant Pot, stuffed full of collapsible measuring cups, a can opener and a paring knife.

Either way, you have realistic expectations, and you're prepared.

But when you suddenly realize you packed your stuff up to send it on its way and then the military stops all permanent change-of-station movies as it tries to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, that timeline extends until -- well, let's be optimistic and say May 11. So you now have at least eight more weeks without your stuff. (Unless you can get it back.)

Related: Here's What the Coronavirus Travel Ban Means for Military Families

In true military spouse community form, we are known for finding our own solutions. We take care of each other, and that's what we're doing this time. Luckily, some previously established organizations that help with the "mid-move mess" are still up and running.

The Lending Closet

Organizations such as Army Community Services, Airman & Family Readiness, and Fleet and Family Services usually have lending closets. For CONUS locations, you can get a "kitchen box" full of dishes, pots and pans. You may be doing dishes after each meal, but you're still eating off of real plates and drinking coffee from a mug. Some lending closets also have microwaves, small televisions, pack 'n' plays and toys for kids.

Buy Nothing Facebook Groups

Local "Buy Nothing" groups pop up all over the place. Their very definition is that people are giving away things, for free. You can post what you're looking for, and people will comment if they have it. People also comment when they want to give something away. They're hyper-local, so your installation may have one, as well as cities and towns surrounding the base.

Fellow Military Spouses

This is probably the easiest answer in your time of need. Hopefully, if you're stranded post pack-out, you're still among friends. And if you're stranded at your next place -- well, you're among friends of friends. Reach out! Ask specifically whether anyone has an air mattress, toys for your kids, summer clothes or extra dishes. Many of us who aren't mid-PCS are waiting for people to let us know how we can help. We are, after all, the helpers.

Local Pregnancy Centers

Not typically the first stop for loaner items, these local resources may be able to help. True story: When I "moved home" with a 3-week-old and a 20-month-old during a deployment, I did not bring all the baby things with me. So I called the local pregnancy center and asked whether I could borrow some things while I was visiting. They were thrilled to help out and loaned me a high chair, swing, infant car seat and much more. These places also tend to have clothes and items for toddlers. Give them a call just in case.

Moving is stressful. Living without your stuff is annoying. Being told you're now doing it for at least eight additional weeks is downright depressing. But you've got this. You have been training for this your entire military spouse career.

Planning for the worst, hoping for the best is your profession.

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--Rebecca Alwine can be reached at rebecca.alwine@monster.com.

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