Know what to pack, and how to pack.
by Amanda LeBlanc
Here comes summer and boy are my kids thrilled. Although, I have to admit, I am, too. My kids are at such a great age, and I just want to soak up every minute I can with them. I’m also tired of fighting my little ones to do their homework, and if I have one more book report to help with this year, I think I might lose my mind!
If you are like most families, you have one or two trips planned this summer. While the trip itself is something to look forward to, who else dreads the packing and preparation process? Packing for a trip can almost be a deterrent to not even travel. Heaven help you if you are taking a car trip with little kids, because that can throw even the calmest of mothers right over the edge of sanity! I have learned a few tricks over the years that have saved our summers and made travel simple and easy for everyone, but mostly Mom, because let’s face it, we do most of the packing anyway.
Packing the kids is a breeze:
Years ago, I was in a client’s house as she was packing and she had a box of gallon ziplocks out on the counter. While I believe I am über organized and I come up with cute ideas that save people time, this was a time when someone taught me a trick that changed the way my family travels. Each child has a ziplock bag labeled with the child’s name and date on the front. Inside as you can guess, the child places the outfit including undies, socks, bows, everything that child would need for that day. This serves two purposes. One, it organizes each outfit to ensure you have everything you need and that it’s all together. Two, it works like a vacuum bag since you can push the air out and the bags compress to save room in the suitcase! I found this to be genius! I have two kids that are close in size and trying to separate socks and underwear out of a suitcase is a nightmare. This has also saved me from forgetting a piece of an outfit that they might need. I do the same thing for my husband and myself; however, I use it more for underwear and accessories.
Don’t forget a thing:
The next time you pack, start a list. This is a list that you will type up and print out, because it is the standard items you need to be packed every time you are going on a trip. When I sat down to create my initial list, I stated with the process I take to get dressed. I started with what I need to shower and moved all the way through heading out of the door. After I created my list, I laminated it and now, as I pack for any trip, I use a dry erase marker to check off everything as it gets packed. Through the years, I have added sections for special travel items, i.e. ski equipment, beach needs, etc. This list and the right supply of ziplock bags will definitely make your days of packing a breeze!
Now on to saving your sanity in the car!
I realize we have come a long way since I was a kid and the only thing to do on a car trip was play the license plate game. I remember taking trips each summer to see my grandmother. The car trip was 10 hours and mostly on two-lane roads. I daydreamed, sang songs, colored, etc. Now-a-days kids have it much easier with movies and electronic games, but my kids still get restless in the car. On our last trip to Disney, the kids were young and the drive was long, and I was desperate to find a way to keep them happy.
I came up with the idea of a surprise an hour. I went to the $1 section of a couple of stores and picked up small crafts and games that would keep them occupied for about an hour. We set the alarm and on the hour every hour, they would get a new craft or activity or small toy. I also sprinkled some small snacks in with the surprises and they were golden. They would get so excited when they knew the timer was about to go off. They were also told that in order to get the next surprise they had to be sweet and not fight! It worked like a charm and we had the best drive ever. I have so many precious memories from the games and crafts we have done on trips.
With all of this being said, the most important part is that I have created systems that limit stress and increase the enjoyment of the summer. My time with my babies is going too quickly. I’ll do whatever I can to hold on and savor each moment. Until next time, keep it organized!