Alright I used to be terrible at leaving town. Throw everything in a suit case and see ya later! Deal with all the things when I get back home. Children taught me that these things didn’t work out well unless I put some thought into it. I also don’t have a lot of reserve energy...so things just take me more time. So I’m going to share my tips on preparing for a trip so that it doesn’t just sneak up on you and pounce like an angry bobcat. This is for you...you’re family...just to bless everyone so you‘re not a cranky, stressed, yelling mess hours before exit time. SO I’m sharing some tips that have helped me relax, not get overwhelmed, and these strategies prevent me from saving too many things for the last minute and having a freak out.
First rule (actually the only rule)
WORK WITH YOUR TIME! I’m a major procrastinator. So I have to actually schedule things out or they will not happen. And I need plenty of time...I wasn’t valedictorian for a reason, okay. Top 10% was a big win with those habits. And I’m convinced the only reason I did so well in college was because I consistently had a friend that always knew by memory when assignments were due and would casually mention it in conversation a few days before that deadline. Again...motherhood has growed me up.
Now that you know all that pointless information...TIME. USE. IT. WELL.
I start moving pieces into place about a week before we leave because that’s how much I actually need to have my full chill pants on.
Make a “Must Do” list of all the things you have to do before you leave, look at your schedule and disperse those items where you have the energy and time slots.
I do the kids laundry and pack their clothes a week in advanced. The reason is because lets be honest...they have enough clothes to last them a few weeks...and Quay girl alone can get by on a dozen princess dresses in her dress up box, because yes she wears them everywhere in front of God and everyone. By packing them ahead of time, I’m not rushing last minute to wash something that they wore and I want to pack.
Clean the car. Make it sparkle. It’s going to be wrecked at the end of your trip...so it’s great to have a leg up on the mess. I take every non-essential item out my car. I keep a colllapsable box in the back of my car specifically for all the miscellaneous items that appear in the floor boards and door pockets. And I make sure I always have a spare pair of clothes for each child *just in case* we need it. Whether there is an accident, or we need to stay overnight somewhere unexpectedly...its covered and easily accessible because being on the road can be a little unpredictable.
SNACKS. Okay, however many snacks you think your kids need, just go ahead and add like a 1/3 to 1/2 more than you thought. Those boogers just decide that since they are sitting in a car all day... that they are STARVING. And it doesn’t matter that they have eaten through pounds of food in an hour...they are bottomless! I try to buy snacks a few days ahead, for the car ride to and from. And a different set of snacks for the duration of the trip. I buy more fun snacks for the road just to make it more exciting for the kids, things that are not in their normal life. So its organic fruit snacks, annies cheddar and graham bunnies, jerky, yogurt melts, cheddar popcorn. Car snacks have their own bag and then I pack a grocery bag of different snacks for actual days we are on our vacation.
Clean my fridge out. I cut grocery shopping off at 4 days before we leave. And we have to eat things that are available in the house. This prevents food waste, and you would be surprised how much food you actually have in your freezer and pantry. This requires some creativity, but I enjoy the challenge. I throw out any old food and leftovers the day before we leave—which usually isn’t much.
I’m one of those psychos that like to clean my house before we leave. I love coming home to sparkly clean house and not being bombarded by any undone chores plus the work of unpacking. So I split the chores up over a few days and usually all that’s left are the floors. I do those the night before we walk out the door.
Download audiobooks for you and your children. Mark and I have a small genre of books that we mingle in, so we make sure to have them ready while we have WiFi. And if your child is over 5 and you’re not listening to hank the cowdog yet...are you even a Texan? Just kidding...but if you have forgotten about that literary work of art ...its time you’re reminded.
Last but not least. REDBOX. If you have a DVD player in your car, go to redbox the night before you leave and grab as many kid movies as you need to survive your trip. I know...I know...screen time is not ideal. But again this is not their norm, its also part of making it exciting for them. AND a 12 hour road trip doesn’t require a hero...or a martyr...just requires some tools to maintain your sanity with children that can’t reach anything that they need or drop. We will make it friends...I promise they won’t be ruined forever. So we find out where the last redbox is on our way to the destination and we return them all while we are en route. On our way home, we find another redbox...we rent...and get along little doggy.
Hopefully these tips are helpful, or at least inspire you to try something new on your next family trip. Nothing super clever over here... I’m actually super lazy on road trips. No homemade activity bags are happening over here. I tried to do that once...and realized there is no gold star for those things, it’s not satisfying for me, and it’s just more work when I’m already feeling maxed out. We do plenty of activities in our daily life and I call that balance. I’m not about any sort of high maintenance situation while we are driving for long periods anywhere. I like to reserve my energy for the time *out* of the car. If you read this whole thing and didn’t learn anything new, I hope this post at the very least gave your humanness a hug.
Now go plan a trip and try these out!