Usually when my family starts talking “VACATION!” I wilt a bit inside because I know how stressed out I will be packing and unpacking.
Recently my family went to Florida to celebrate the life of our grandmother who passed away in April. I knew I would have so many feelings and emotions that I truly dreaded packing my family, even for a trip I knew we needed to take. I decided at that moment I would not let myself get stressed and terrify my kids about suitcases, bathing suits, and threatening to “just throw it all away.” I was determined to enjoy the trip and below are some of the things I did to ensure that.
Make physical checklists – to pack, to purchase, to clean, etc.
This was the KEY to ensuring I had everything.
I made lists for each kid on what they needed to pack, this was so helpful for my older ones who had to get mom’s approval before packing up their bag! I broke down everything we needed to do starting a week out from leaving – this was key! I did not want to leave everything for the day before the trip – that is just asking for stress!
We even had a last checklist for everything that needed to be packed right before the trip and without it we would have ended up with kids without chargers, a treacherous situation for any parent.
Clean before you leave
I clean my whole house before I leave. The laundry, the dusting, the dishes – it was a lot but I am so glad I got it done.
When we got home from our trip I was so exhausted that all I wanted to do was lay down and I could!
I had my kids clean their bathrooms and rooms and my husband picked up the backyard, garage, and even washed the dogs. There is nothing better than coming home to a clean house. We also had someone house-sitting and no one wants to house sit in a dirty house! I know he appreciated it too.
Ask for help!
This is one I struggle with the most. Because I am so efficient and organized, I avoid asking for help because I feel like it adds stress. This does not have to be the case!
If you are clear in what you need help with and you make lists (bring it back full circle), the person assisting will know exactly what you need. An example of this? I made my two older kids pack their own bags. I told them what was needed and I had to “approve” it but packing one kid instead of three was a life saver!
I also had them help me clean!
Delegating tasks will help everyone pitch in and give you some relief!
Use small organizing bags
This is simple but I can’t tell you how helpful this is when you’re getting ready for a memorial service after you have been at the beach all day. I had my jewelry in one bag, hair care in another, makeup organized as well.
I was ready to get my children dressed and out the door before anyone else. I even had time to help my mom with her makeup!
Put frequently used items up front: tech, snacks, drinks (pre-cool your cooler!), books
I always have a ‘tech bag’ in the backseat with tablets, chargers, cords.
Everyone’s tech goes in one bag so no one accidentally puts hair care products in with their tablet and now it’s covered in goo. This is also handy when I need to take it away from my kids because they aren’t paying attention to me: “Put it in the bag and then listen, please.”
Other items I keep up front are snacks and books for a long journey. I also pack a cooler with food and drinks so we can stop at a rest stop to use the restroom AND eat a meal.
Make sure not to put bags on top- of the cooler or your oldest child will struggle to hand you water while you’re screaming to put his seatbelt back on…. or so I’ve heard.
Relax, there is a store there!
And finally, wherever you’re going, there is likely a store there. Anything you forgot can be purchased again. Just make sure your family is in the car and everything else can be replaced!
Don’t spend your summer vacation stressed out this year. Don’t spend the time before your vacation stressed out and prepare so that you’re not stressed out when you get home! There are so many things to enjoy with your family and friends: making memories, eating great food, and giving those hugs that have been waiting for years.