We're heading out of town soon for a little trip, so I thought I'd share some trip tips that I try to employ before we embark on any sort of overnight outing. I've found these tips to be helpful, so I'm passing them along. This trip will only be four days and three nights, but, for those of you with children (be it one or ten), you know that a little prep goes a long way.
1) Clean the house where it matters.
I use the words "where it matters" because the idea of cleaning the entire house can be a bit overwhelming, especially when you are trying to think of what to pack and in the meantime trying to wrangle your little ones, too. So, think of the places that you want to be in tip-top shape when you get home. For me, it is the kitchen, the living room, and the bedrooms. Okay, I know, in my case that pretty much encompasses the "entire house"! :) But I try to think of what it will be like when I get home from the trip: The kids will be tired and possibly cranky. We'll have to unload the car. There will be piles of laundry. I want to keep the living room clean because it is the first thing you see when you walk into our house. If I can walk into a clean living room after a long trip, it's like lifting a weight from my shoulders. I will inevitably need to make Naomi a bottle, so then walking into a clean kitchen is another wonderful thing, and is one less thing that will require my attention. We will all want to crash in bed, so I like to have the sheets clean and the beds ready to go, with toys picked up in the kids' rooms (which we do before we go anywhere anyway). I don't do a deep clean necessarily, but it's amazing how a little picking up can go a long way. If the idea of even a little picking up drives you crazy, then set a timer and give yourself 60 seconds in each room. Sixty seconds goes a long, long way!
2) Make a list.
And check it twice.
I make a list of the chores I want to accomplish. Then I make another list of what to pack for the kids and for my husband and I. I divvy everything up into appropriate packing categories such as Clothing, Hygiene, Food, Toys, and Sleep. That way I have given intentional thought to every category and there is a lesser chance (but a slim chance nonetheless :)) that I will forget something. Under each category, I make sub-categories for each kid. For example, under "Food", even though we will be eating out frequently, I have different snacks listed for Cub (for in the car and such) and also a box of oatmeal, since breakfast can kind of be the forgotten meal of adults, but the necessary meal for kids! Then I list the items we will need with that, including his sippy cup and a bib. For Naomi, I listed formula, and her 'items' include a bottle and a bib, too (for drool, mostly!). And so on and so forth. Categorizing helps me remember items that are easily forgotten, such as Cub's sensitive-skin body wash and the bunny blanket Naomi sleeps with. Each category has its own suitcase/bag, too, so I list that as well.
3) Think Ahead.
This goes along with Number One, but try to think of what you will need when you return home. I keep a fresh gallon of milk in the fridge (if we are going to return before it expires) since I know Cub will need some when we get home. Since we don't keep a ton of packaged food in the house, I try to have at least rice or something else with a bit of a shelf-life so we'll have a meal to make when we get home. Running to the grocery store will be the last thing I want to do! Even a box or two of cereal can do the trick. I make sure the dishwasher is unloaded and that there are clean bottles waiting for Naomi.
I've found that a lot of work on the front-end of a trip makes it easier at the end of it, and I can relax and enjoy myself more while I'm gone!
Time to start packing.
Have a lovely day!