One of the challenges for me of traveling with children, especially four children, is packing. I tend to over pack. I always have. When I moved to Norway for six months in college, I took so much stuff with me that when I was packing up to head back to the States, I found things that I had never worn. It seems that whenever I think about going on a trip, my brain goes in to overdrive and I over-think. The conversations in my brain sound a little like this: “I know that weather.com says it will be in the 80’s the whole weekend but what if a freak snow storm comes through and we don’t have any mittens? Then I will have to go find a Target and buy more mittens even though we have perfectly good mittens sitting in the closet at home! Maybe I should pack two pairs of mittens per person in case someone loses theirs.”
Rational? No. Prepared? Always.
So for a recent long weekend away with the kids, I decided to try something different. I gave them all the following instructions:
-Pick out one outfit to wear when we leave and keep it in your room
-Pick out three outfits, one pair of PJs, socks and underwear and bring them into Dad and Annie’s room and put them on their bed
Sounds simple right? The idea was that they would do all the heavy lifting thereby eliminating the whining when we reached our destination that someone did not like what I picked out for them to wear. It would also keep me from heading into a tailspin and grabbing everything in their closets. They would bring the clothes to me and then I would very efficiently pack them in the suitcase. It mostly worked out except there still needed to be grownup eyes on the clothes chosen. Otherwise, we would have been in a pickle when we reached Philadelphia because Drew considered one t-shirt, one pair of shorts, two pair of underwear and THREE pairs of PJs sufficient. Likewise, Tony thought that one polo, one pair of shorts, two pair of boxers and ZERO pairs of PJs would work for the weekend. The girls had a different problem. They suddenly lost their ability to match clothing so I had to have some follow-up conversations and help make a couple of different choices. I also had to double-check their underwear choices because it seems that they had the same problem as the boys and thought less underwear not more was the way to go for a trip.
Once I had safely determined that there would be no major clothing crises once we reached our destination, I ROLLED each piece individually and I was able to pack everything we needed, including mine and Will’s clothes, in ONE suitcase! How awesome is that? Now, I did still have some moments of panic, especially on July 4th when I realized that it might be chilly outside while we were waiting for the fireworks and I had not packed a sweater for ANYONE! Luckily for me, we were jam packed into a crowd and no one complained of being too cold.
So my takeaway lesson from this packing experiment is that between the kids’ penchant for not packing enough and my desire to take our entire house with us on trips, we actually blend together to make a great team!