The Packing Game

Packing with children is like trying to solve an algebraic math problem while skiing through a hurricane.

It’s horrifying. Mostly because as I am packing, I am picturing that one moment we all dread as parents that happens even with the most meticulous planning. The moment you forget that ONE kid’s ONE special toy. It’s never the kid who can handle it. Nope. It’s the kid who has a meltdown because his sister is looking at him. As I am packing, it’s not a question of IF I am going to forget something, but what. It’s a game of cat and mouse of what can I afford to live without if I forget it.

One year it was a second pair of contacts… and my glasses. One contact ripped so I had to spend 24 hours without contacts and then had to drive four hours home with only one contact. I was single then and the lone driver.

Being an organizational super freak, I have a few tips that help. Keep in mind however, that like certain types of birth control, they are not full proof. (Sorry Ross and Joey.)

Here are my few tips for the upcoming holiday packing extravaganza that is about to take place.

First: Start early. It’s never too early to start planning what to pack or even starting to pack itself. A year in advance is completely acceptable. If you have small children who tend to rip things out of your suitcase as you are putting them in, investing in a keyed padlock is another sensible option. Retina scanning is preferable, but a bit pricey if you are on a budget.

Second: Make a list. I personally sat down and made a list on Word going through each family member and their needs. My husband will forget to pack pajamas. My oldest will want a bag of toys for the road. The middle child will require a crateful of snacks preferably all laced with Benadryl… I mean chocolate. The Cute One will require nothing as ripping off her socks ten second BEFORE we are to exit the car is her entertainment. Mom? Mom requires a bottle of wine.
I also include extraneous categories that include but are not limited to: The Diaper Bag, The Toy Bag, The bag that includes the things we will need for whatever activity we will be participating in. Again, including, but not limited to: Swimming attire and toys, snow attire and toys, Christmas exchange gifts and toys, the bag of toys and of course a bag filled with bottles of more wine for Mom.
If you search Google and or Pinterest, there are several printable lists that are wondrous. I looked at all these lists to give my own its personal touch. If you just want something basic, I highly recommend just printing out one of these rather than believing in your own memory skills when it comes to packing. I don’t care who you are. Packing should never be taken lightly.
Third: If you have kids I highly recommend having a small suit case for each of them. Not only does this make them feel pretty spectacular, but it helps with organization and avoids the arguing about who is going to pull the suitcase five feet through the snow into the building which will somehow result in it becoming unzipped and all the clothes falling into the snow. After which, of course, is followed by a massive amount of screaming, tears and… Mom opening up a bottle of wine in Grandma’s front yard.
We invested in those Skip and Hop bags. Each child has their own themed suitcase and snack case. Also, pack triple the amount of clothing normally needed in a day. For example. The baby goes through three outfits a day. Therefore you should plan to pack 9 outfits per day. Times that by being gone for three days (an average) and you should plan to pack 27 outfits for the baby. This is convenient if you still have gift outfits to wear. Bring the outfits that were given by the persons you will be seeing. Two birds…

Fourth: Move it on out… As you pack, go ahead and put it in the car, even if it is a year ahead of time. If you make your own wine, this is a good time to put those just corked bottles in the back of the car so they have time to ferment.
No seriously. If you leave the bags by the front door you will end up re-wrapping every gift because the 1 year old got to them. Just put everything right into the car right away.
Also, plan where you want things. The boys have a toy bag in between them. The snack bag and my knitting bag are right behind my seat. We sometimes carry a jug of water because you just never know. The wine is placed into the front cup holder with a straw. All other stuff can be shoved in the back as delicately as you stuff a turkey.

Fifth: Details. It’s alllllll in the details. And I am being serious now. I plan my packing with so much detail because it ends up being a gift in return. Careful planning ( and a whole lot of grace on the side) allows me to relax and fully participate in the activity or event we are involved in. Don’t get me wrong, I still have moments where I get more frazzled than Mrs. Frizzle, but for the most part, when plans get derailed or we have a poop emergency… I got it covered. And that allows me to participate and be present with my family. Which is the real point of all this packing anyway…

So happy packing, Happy Holidays and please… don’t forget to pack the wine.


Sometimes we just have to let ourselves fail.
 I’m not referring to post-failure acceptance in which at the end of the day you are in your pjs, with a hot cup of something, wrapped in a blanket, breathing deep and telling yourself tomorrow is a new day.
You know? That acceptance of failure all those cheesy quotes on Pinterest point to?
I’m talking about the,
“It’s-9A.M.-and-I-am-already-giving-up-because-I-just-spilled-my-coffee-all-over-my-pants-and-now-I-look-like-I-peed” kind of days.
Or those days where you find out you left your jump drive with the presentation you needed sitting nice and pretty next to the box of tampons you were depending on for today.
Or the days where child #1 spills milk and cereal all over while child #2 is pooping on the floor because you didn’t catch him in time for potty training while child #3 is over in the corning sharing the dog food with the dog and then the doorbell rings and you answer it without pants or a bra on and of course it’s two young Mormon boys who suddenly sport a deer in the headlights look once they get a glimpse at you.
OR nothing goes wrong, but in the words of Jim Carry’s character in Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind, “I just woke up in a funk today.” At those moments…. when it’s overwhelming and tears are creeping up… choose to accept the failure that this day is.
Today I was attached to the internet all day. No joke. Every five minutes I just HAD to pop back on for something. My Kindle was glued to my hand.
Not because I am addicted (though 4 out of 5 of us in my household would vote that I am).
No, but because today my reality was just more than I could handle.
So, instead of trying to fight my current reality, instead of trying to fight my need to be in control of my day and then get more disappointed and angry when things didn’t go my way, I just let myself fail.
Yes, I’m sure I missed a moment or two with my kids that was cute, but seriously, there are hundreds of them a day.
Yes, I’m sure they felt blocked out for a moment or two, but seriously, they have to learn that Mommy’s world is not 100% about them.
Yes, I’m sure my brain melted a little, but seriously, have you seen the puddle it already is with three kids under 5?!
So, I knew at 8 AM that I was going to fail today. And I decided to be O.K. with that.There are just days where we should allow ourselves the gift of failure.
It’s like a sick day for life.
 It’s O.K. to have an off day. It took YEARS for my husband and I to understand that sometimes we just have grumpy days and it has NOTHING to do with each other.
And sometimes it has to do with PMS.
But mostly just because there was not any creamer left for our coffee that morning.
So, my challenge to you is to let yourself fail one day this week. See what happens. If you fail at failing… well then, good job at failing and there’s a new day tomorrow.
But if you succeed at failing, enjoy the peace it can bring simply by accepting you are going to fail ahead of time.Below is a selfie I took with my three kids about 10 months ago. It was a rough day and I JUST wanted a photo of all of us. This photo is about attempt #5 when, as you can see in my face, I just accepted my failure. It is now one of my favorite photos of us even though I look like I haven’t showered in a week.
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