Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to minimize stress while packing for a weekend away

I posted a while ago about how I found packing up for a weekend away so stressful and that I was usually a wreck by the time we got our on way.  I tried to do things a bit differently when packing up for the July long weekend at the lake, and I found it quite a bit less stressful than our first weekend away in June.  Hopefully these things will also help me as I prepare for our next get-away.
Here are a few of the things I did:

Make a list
Or, if you're like me, make lots of lists.  I made a list for each person in our family, a food list (both refrigerated and un-refrigerated), a toys list, an "extras" list, a bedding list, etc.  I love lists.  I was very specific in my lists, so I knew beforehand what needed to be laundered or bought, and then when packing I was sure not to forget anything (although I did forget one thing from my list - Carey's reading light.  I'll have to add that to the list right now!).  Not only are lists helpful, but if you're Type A neurotic like me, you'll also get a great sense of satisfaction as you cross items of your lists. ;)

On my last post about packing, someone gave me the suggestion of having a "lake bag" for each person, and the clothes in those bags would go to the lake, come home, be washed and then get put back into the bag right away, to await the next weekend away.  I like this idea, but we don't quite have large enough wardrobes to do this. However, there are some items that we don't use on a regular basis (like bathing suits, towels, cool-weather items like sweaters and pants) that I have "packed" in advance.  For Annika, I designated a drawer in her dresser (since she doesn't use all the drawers yet) for lake items.  That way they're still easily accessible, if we have a trip to the splash park or we need a sweater for a chilly morning, but after they're used, they go back in the drawer and they're ready to be packed in just a few minutes.  I've also done this with my toiletry bag - I have a travel version of pretty much everything we use (toothbrushes, shampoo, lotions, contact lens stuff, etc).  I just need to throw in my glasses and it's ready to go.  I've also started a travel toiletry bag for the kids' stuff too (it's not quite complete yet, but it's a start).

Do laundry the day before
This one is pretty obvious, but I always seem to leave it to the last minute, and then have bags sitting around waiting for one or two more things to come out of the dryer. It's a lot easier to pack when everything's clean and ready to be packed.

Clear your "to-do" list the day (or week) before packing day
This goes together with getting the laundry done the day before.  Perhaps I'm the only one who is this disorganized, but I often have other non-packing-related things to get done that get left until packing day - give the kids a bath, pick up a few items from the grocery store, stop at the library, wash the dishes, etc.  I found that trying to do all these other things, as well as pack, just adds to my stress level.  By getting these things done ahead of time, it makes packing so much easier.

Get rid of the kids
I think this is the most important one of all.  It's amazing how much easier it is to get everything organized and packed in just an hour or two of completely uninterrupted time.  Hurray for grandmas! :)

So there you have it.  I know a lot of it is just common sense, but it really helped me.

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