As a family, road trips are times for adventure, talking, fighting, dreaming, crying, fun, bonding, and more fighting. It doesn’t matter how many kids you have or even if there are no kids going on the trip with you, there is always a large range of emotions and feelings that are experienced during a trip. For me, preparing for the trip is usually the most stressful part. But it is always worth it once we hit the road, the kids settle in, and I get time to just reflect in peace while looking out the window. At some point in the journey I feel a surge of pride and love as I turn around and gaze at the herd of young lives that I have been blessed with. I call it my “mother hen” mode. I relish having my loved ones close by, journeying together.
As I said, preparations for a trip are usually the most stressful. I have to wash all the clothes (even the ones we aren’t taking so we can have clean clothes when we return), figure out what clothes and how much we will need, pack them, clean house, stock snack food, get the car ready, and on and on and on. For some reason, my least favorite part is packing.
Since our family has done LOTS of traveling together, I have created a simple game plan for making packing easier. I use it for all of my kids, from the biggest to the smallest. Here I will explain my VERY basic technique that I hope will make this strenuous task a bit easier next time you travel.
We just returned from our annual trip to Peconic, NY. It’s a 10 hour drive from our house to this lovely spot on far eastern Long Island. Every year, the weather is a gamble. I never fully know how to prepare for all of the possibilities we will encounter while at the camp. So, after checking the weather website (I admit to being a bit obsessive with checking weather... it’s my thang), I started with making a list.
On my paper I write out the items and the amount of each that we will need. This trip required us to pack bedding, towels, and swimming gear. Next to each items you see a bunch of letters. Each letter represents one of the children going on the trip. N = Noah, K=Kolbe, M= Mary, J=Jude, and J=Joe.
Then I sit my butt down in the middle of the hallway floor and scream for all of the kids to come pack.
Next, I send them off to their rooms to gather the items I call off the list. Warm PJs was first. Here you see that Joe, Jude and Mary were the first to start their piles.
I mark lines through their letters next to PJs. I just stay put and determine if their selections are acceptable and then send them off for the next item. They are not allowed to move onto the other articles unless they complete the one above. For instance, I always hear, “I can’t find my shoes.” or “I don’t know where my socks are.” It forces them to hunt for those needed things in order to complete their packing. This meticulous way of preparing helps prevent important items from being forgotten.
We work through the entire list slowly. You can see that some kids move along faster than others.
The piles start to add up.
As I’ve gotten older, I refuse to fold their clothes for them. I am just the monitor. I don’t like them to throw their clothes at me or into their piles. As you can see, their folding is not great, but it teaches them to do things for themselves. (I often remind my kids that I am not their maid.)
My kids seem to enjoy packing. I think it helps that they usually like the trips we take.
It doesn’t take long before everything gets marked off.
Then they get to squeeze their piles into luggage.
I am not a perfectionist. I feel that it’s more important for kids to learn to do things themselves and it be done imperfectly, than for mom to wait on them hand and foot. I would rather have my kid show up to camp with a stuffed suitcase they packed themselves, than perfectly folded clothes that I did for them. This process of packing at least guarantees they have what they need, even though it’s wrinkly.
I love this part. We are almost ready to go.
The van packing I leave for the MAN! He loves getting bags to shove and squeeze into the smallest of space.
(My tough hubby who blinked as I snapped the picture!)
Summer is upon us. I hope you get a chance to get away and feel all of the range of emotions you get from traveling as a family. Let me know if you try this method and if it worked for you.
(My kids have a hard time giving a normal face and smile for a picture. What a bunch of dorks!)
Peconic Dunes, Peconic NY 2014 (Great photo bomb by a dear friend)