Monday, June 25, 2012

We're leaving in a cramped van...

Image courtesy of Sanja Gjenero, rgbstock.com

This week I have to do something I really, really don't like to do. Unfortunately, I can't avoid it any longer.

I have to pack.

On Sunday we're going on our annual journey back home to visit my parents. I look forward to this trip all year. Growing up, I was the kid who never really wanted to venture far from family, but as it turned out, I'm the one who ended up living the farthest away. So my husband, my kids, our dog, and I have a thousand-mile trip to look forward to, if I can get over one hurdle:

Packing.

I don't like packing. Actually, that's a bit of an understatement. I loathe packing, especially since around here it seems to go hand in hand with cleaning.

Confession: I am not Monica Geller.



During the time we're gone, our next-door neighbor will be going into our house every day to check on our cat, and, since I don't want her to think I'm a complete slob, I need to make sure the house is clean before we go. My husband thinks I'm being ridiculous, but I think most women can probably understand where I'm coming from. Also, it's nice to come home to a clean house, isn't it? It's just too bad I have to clean it first in order to get it that way.

So this week will be filled with laundry and folding and packing and finding toys and buying last-minute items and explaining to the kids why they can't take their gigantic dollhouse and big yellow dump truck with us and late nights and exhaustion and looking through the suitcases for things I packed too soon and last-minute laundry and take-out pizza and arguments about what counts as a necessity and trips to the grocery store for snacks and cleaning and more cleaning and moments where I pull my hair out and...

You get the picture. I'm sure you've all been here before.

And since you have, do you have any tips for me? Any stories? Any ways to help me procrastinate?

Because have I mentioned? I really, really don't like to pack.


Happy Monday, friends!

71 comments:

  1. I may just be weird, but I quite like packing. Packing means I'm going somewhere, and that is always a good feeling! :D

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    1. You're not weird. I wouldn't mind if you came here to help me pack. ;)

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  2. I do the same thing. In fact, the neighbor who takes care of our cats says she and the kids hang out, play with them and watch some TV because it's so nice to relax in a clean house!

    For motivation, just focus on how good it will feel to come home, sleep in your own bed and have no new chores except for some dirty laundry to contend with.

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who cleans before she leaves. :)

      Thanks for the motivation! I do like thinking about having nothing but laundry to do when we get back.

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  3. And then you kind of have to do it all over again when you return. Sometimes I hate unpacking even more than packing because there's no trip to look forward to. Just lots and lots of laundry.
    Have a great time on your trip!!!!

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    1. Ugh. I'd forgotten about all the unpacking...

      Thanks, Kate!

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  4. The only way I manage is by writing a list. Not just of what I have to pack - but of all the little things I need to do before leaving. Without my trusty list I would never make it!

    And yes, I can perfectly relate to your wanting the house clean if someone else is going to see it! Definitely! :-)

    Oh, one more travel tip lol... wear old underwear on the trip and just throw it away so that you don't have to deal with it on arrival ;-)

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    1. I also makes lists--tons of them! The packing all seems to fall to me, so I need lots of reminders.

      Ha! Love the underwear tip! ;)

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  5. The reason packing is so stressful is that you're the mother. You pack for everybody. When my girls were little and we went on long trips, I put each day's outfit plus underwear plus socks in a ziplock bag. That way I had a good idea whether I had enough to last the week. This tip won't make packing easier -- it'll just make thinking easier. But my sympathy ends here. We didn't have iPods and DVD players to ward off the back-seat fights. Besides packing, I had to plan games and buy rewards for hourly good behavior to sustain us through a long road trip. So, will you blog on the road or are you writing ahead?

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    1. I wish we had iPods and DVD players, but alas, we don't own any of those newfangled gadgets. ;) Like you did, I have to plan games and have rewards ready. Thanks for reminding me; I forgot to add that stuff to my list. :)

      I like your organized approach to packing. I do that with the overnight bag, but everything else just gets thrown into the suitcases and I attempt to organize at my parents' house.

      Sadly, I won't have Internet access at my parents', and if I'm able to get to a place that has it--like a library--I won't be able to do so often. I still don't own a laptop, so that makes things all the more difficult. I wish I had time to write my posts ahead, but I doubt that I will. I'm going to try my hardest to post something during my trip, but I don't think I'll be able to post daily. That makes me sad...

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    2. OK, I put my sympathy back in.

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  6. I can remember my kids having to wear old clothes and clothes that were too small because as soon as their clothes were washed and ironed then I would pack them (from about three weeks before we were due to travel). Try not to get too stressed and enjoy the trip as part of the holiday. One tip: when we travelled with the kids on long journeys we had a lot of talking tapes. One journey we listened to all of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. Fantastic. It kept the kids quiet all through the journey.

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    1. I should have done that with my kids' clothes. I hate last-minute laundry.

      Thanks for the tip about the books! I'm taking the kids to the library today; maybe we'll be able to find something there. :)

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  7. I'm glad you're taking your dog with you! It's too bad your cat can't join you; it would save you from having to clean the house.

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    1. Isn't that the truth!

      The cat doesn't travel well, and *someone* in the house--her name might be Dana--is allergic to cats, so a small space plus a feline friend equals bad news. :)

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    2. It sounds like you're doing the best thing for everybody. Have a good time on the trip!

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  8. Like you, Dana, I hate packing, and I hate cleaning. But, yes, I must clean before I leave because I also hate coming home to an untidy house.

    Enjoy your vacation. :)

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  9. I always make very detailed lists before I start packing. I feel better about being in control of what I pack that way, and it's nice to check things off. I'm totally with you about cleaning the house before leaving. It's just not fun to come to a mess, and I really, really don't want anyone who may be checking on the cats to think we live like pigs.

    Have a great vacation!

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  10. Ugh! Get out of my head! I agree. The house should be clean when we get home from a trip and we are exhausted. I hate cleaning too but that is a must.

    We are taking my son to see the big rat in FL this year, (shhhh..its a secret), and my sister in law invited us to the beach the week before our trip. I said no way and my husband couldn't understand why. All that cleaning, laundry, packing, lists, cat care. He doesn't do any of it, I do. Needless to say we are going to the beach two weeks after we get home.

    Men.

    Best of luck on your trip and your packing. My only bit of advice, your kids will never wear as many clothes as you bring and they will never play with all the toys you pack. It's the truth.

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    1. Ha! I agree. Men! My husband doesn't understand why I hate packing so much. Um, he packs for one person. I pack for three people and a dog and have to clean the house.

      You're so right about the clothes and toys. We always bring too many. Thanks!

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  11. I hate packing too especially the unpacking of this and that after a vacation... Hope you enjoyed the trip!

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    1. Thanks! After the packing is done, I'm sure I'll have a great time. :)

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  12. you know--something just hit me---if people travel much---you could keep a bag packed at all times, maybe two each--one with cold weather stuff and one summer stuff---keep them in your closet or junk room--of course this doesn't help ya with this trip, huh--have a good trip!

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    1. Haha! No, but it's a good idea!

      Thanks, Lynn. :)

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  13. I would always pack ahead with my kids and not let them take anything out. I plan ahead for me too...but my husband packs last minute and always forgets stuff...or he tosses it in the car at the last minute and it rolls around the car the whole trip and makes me crazy! Have a fun trip!!

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    1. This made me laugh! We always have stuff rolling around, too!

      Thanks. :)

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  14. Wendy's right. A lot of your packing hatred probably stems from you having to take care of your kids' packing, too. It's a lot easier and more stress-free when all you have to worry about is what goes into your own suitcase. And as for the cleaning, could be worse. I've heard of women who actually clean their houses before their maids come. HA! Seriously, can't have the maid thinking they're slobs, right?

    Enjoy your vacation. I almost forgot about having to plan games and activities to keep the kids occupied on those long car trips. Can't say that I miss it one little bit.

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    1. My friend is like that about the maid! (Sadly, if I had a maid, I'm pretty sure I'd be the same way...)

      Thanks, Susan!

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  15. I am not how many kids you have or their ages but I am an excellent packer and traveler. I have to have zero laundry and a spotless house when I leave so when we get home, I throw in the dirty laundry and go to bed.
    You will be able to do laundry at your parents house so I suggest only taking a swimsuit, minimal shorts/pants (they can get 2 days out of them) and a few tops. One pair of sneakers, one pair of flips or sandals. They can all share shampoo and soap and toothpaste. I am insane and put each complete outfit for the day in a big ziplock so they can take the bag to the bathroom when they shower/bathe and bring it back full of dirty clothes zipped up and you have no piles of dirties to deal with (this works better at hotels or when your kids are going away without a parent there to pick up after them, especially if they are sharing a community bathroom with a lot of other kids.
    For car snacks, I make individual ziplocks (single serving amount) of pretzels, Goldfish, Ritz Bitz pb, Gardettos (for me), cubed cheese (you need a cooler, if space allows)and bottled water. I get the powdered sugar free Walmart brand kool aid to add to the water (they may have juice options) and juice boxes and small bottles of chocolate milk. This way, there are no spilled cracker boxes, and all you have to pick up is ziplocks.
    Just an idea, I have many more but you probably fell asleep by now.

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    1. You have some great ideas! I love the one about the Ziplocs. Someone else mentioned that, too. And I always pack way too many clothes, so your list of the essentials helps a lot. Your snack ideas are great, too!

      Do you want to come over and help me pack? :)

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  16. My husband just suggested a dvd player (our car has one installed but you can bring a laptop or even rent the screens that fit over the front seats so the people in the back can watch dvd's. He also suggested stopping in each state and taking a photo of everyone and finding something interesting to do in each state for a short while to stretch and "get the wiggles out"

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    1. More great ideas! I keep telling my hubby that we need a DVD player. Maybe I can talk him into renting one. Stopping in each state would be fun, too. I need to get the wiggles out just as much as the kids do! Ha!

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    2. Oh, and my kids are five (boy) and almost three (girl). :)

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  17. I always clean the house before we leave on a trip. There's no way I want to clean when I get home. There's going to be enough laundry to do and unpacking! I'm not a fan of packing either. My son doesn't like to travel, so it's made traveling difficult for us these past two years. I'd like some tips too!

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    1. People have given me a ton of good tips. Hope some of them help you, too!

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  18. 1000 miles. Uff. I am so NOT jealous of that. My parents live an hour away. I'd love for them to be closer, but I can't complain about the hourdrive. Have a good trip.

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  19. I hate packing too. Wine helps but is a risk that you might forget something. Have a great trip and remember you won't be on Mars so it's not a big deal if you forget something ;)

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    1. Wine! I hadn't thought of that, but now that you mention it... ;)

      You're right: I'm not going to Mars, so why worry so much? Thanks!

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  20. I love going away, but also hate the packing and unpacking part. Have a safe trip

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  21. I am SO not jealous of you right now, but just think of all the fun you will have with your family. And, you are creating memories for your kids! I don't have many tips, but I agree with the wine. I am also a big fan of packing at night with some music or a good show going. That way, no one is in your way and you can concentrate. Don't forget plenty of plastic bags to load up the dirty clothes, then when they are dirty, you throw them in the bag and get home and they go straight to the laundry room. It makes unpacking easier. Unpacking is way worse than packing. Maybe if you make a list of everything you need and organize it by when you need to pack it (i.e. toothbrushes, hair products don't go in until last) then you can get some early stuff done and know exactly what you need!

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    1. I write lists kind of haphazardly--no real order--but I like your idea of organizing them by when I need to pack different items. That makes a lot of sense and should save me some headaches. Thanks!

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  22. My daughter is a "Monica" so she's done my packing and her own since about the age of 8! Now she's moved out so I have no idea how I'll cope when the time comes for me to pack!

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    1. Maybe one of my kids will be a Monica. Guess I'll have to wait a few years to find out. :)

      Good luck with your future packing!

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  23. I don't really like packing either, but I haven't been on a vacation in 5 years, so I wouldn't mind packing to go on a trip. The trip would be the reward. :)

    Just don't forget underwear, socks, or shampoo and you'll be okay. :)

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  24. Oh yes! Of course I clean before I leave. I do it even if nobody is coming while I am gone. Good grief, I straighten up before my cleaning lady comes every two weeks.

    What I used to do before trips was make lists. What I had get done before I left, what to pack, the last minute don't forget to shut off the alarms and coffee pot list, etc. I was much less likely to forget something when I had my lists going.

    Enjoy!!! Have a wonderful, safe trip. :)

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    1. Oh, I definitely need to make lists when I'm getting ready to go on vacation. Actually, I have to make lists every day! (Sometimes I think my mind is a sieve!)

      Thanks, Rita! (I'm glad I'm not the only one who cleans before the trip.)

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  25. I hate packing, too. I make my kids pack their own bags. We do it the day before we leave. Good luck! Have a wonderful trip!

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    1. Thanks, Sherry! I suspect I'll be up most of the night Saturday, but I'll get it done. :)

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  26. LOL, I was on another blog who was going to have to clean their house before they went on vacation next month because a neighbor lady was coming in to look in on their dog, but I get the drift, I would be doing the same thing! How exciting though for a trip to see your parents! I know all will enjoy that time indeed!! I was very methodical about packing; an outfit a day for the kids with couple extra ones for accidents, but I'm thinking if you are staying with your parents, you'll be able to use the washer/dryer? Whatever, don't stress out too much about it and enjoy the time!!!

    betty

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    1. Yes, we all look forward to this visit! As I mentioned, I only get to see my parents once a year. I miss them, and they miss me and the grandkids, who must look so different to them each time they see them.

      Thanks!

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  27. I also clean before I leave. I can't stand the thought of coming home to a dirty house-especially any sort of dish in the sink! I used to love to pack, but now with kids I end up with mostly their stuff in my suitcase and maybe two outfits for myself.

    I do love to go to Target and buy little travel size shampoos and lotions though. Just makes me happy!

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    1. Oh, I know what you mean! I always have room for the kids' stuff but usually forget some of my own.

      I love Target! I was just there picking up a few things yesterday. :)

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  28. I remember summer road trips. My mom used to pack my sister and me in the car for a 700 - 1000 (depending where we were living that year) mile drive every July to see our grandmother. If we didn't cause any problems, then we got a little gift at the end of the journey. Those were the days...long days. haha. My wife loathes packing, too. I do mine the morning of. Have a wonderful trip! :)

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    1. I love how you men can pack the morning you leave for vacation! My husband does the same thing. I have no idea how he does it; I need at least a week. :)

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  29. you've received so many good tips! I would concur with these. We moved every 3 years when our kids were young (Air Force career) and I got the packing thing down. One thing I still do is roll clothes instead of laying everything flat. It IS odd that mom has to pack everyone else, while dad just packs himself. ;-) Traveling is so much work w/ little kids. Try to just enjoy it! They grow up so fast! BYW, I clean before we leave too! Seems to be something most of us do.

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    1. I got a lot of cleaning done before the kids woke up this morning. Cleaning, but no packing. ;)

      Thanks for the tip about rolling clothes. I never think of that when I'm packing. I'll have to write myself a note. :)

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  30. Ugh...I'm with you Dana, packing is not my favorite. I have to pack for a month long trip which includes a wedding. In addition, I'm trying to pack things that I plan to leave at the house in NM and I'm trying Not to let Ralph know what I'm taking (dishes and kitchen things.) I have some ideas which will of course turn into blog posts! Hope you enjoy your visit home!! Travel Safe!

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    1. Thanks, Fran!

      And good luck with your packing. :)

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  31. I hate packing, almost as much as I hate unpacking. In fact, I still have a suitcase at the foot of my bed with some clothes I packed for my birthday trip in March. That's how much of a procrastinator I am.

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    1. I've done that. What's worse is that I STILL haven't put away the Christmas ornaments. They're sitting in boxes in our bedroom.

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  32. sorry, i love to pack
    i print a list of what to bring, the forecast & our itinerary
    then i go to my closet & pick stuff i would like to wear and lay it out on my bed.
    looking at my printouts, i match up the clothes, fold & stack in reverse order of when i will wear them and put them in the suitcase =)
    terribly organized! and my oldest son is just like me =) love it!

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    1. You (and your oldest son) need to come over here right now and pack our stuff. Please? I have cookies. ;-)

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  33. I, like most women, hate packing, unpacking, and the laundry after the trip. We now travel mostly by RV, which allows us to put our clothes in once (sans suitcase), but I still have to deal with all the laundry after the trip.

    Yes, I too clean like crazy if someone is going to house sit. We can live as slobs, but only if no one is going to see it.

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    1. I love your last line. That's my philosophy, too!

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