Packing and unpacking: the fun part of family vacations

I had the best weekend ever. I mean, really. Cause we were, like, packing for the beach? And you know when you have kids? And you’re going on a trip? And you have to pack for, like, three people and a dog?

It’s about as much fun as licking a sand-encrusted lollipop.

If you’re still reading, it’s only because you’re been there. Or here. Wherever the hell I am.

Seriously, I loved to travel until I had to do so with children. A friend told me the other day that he had no idea until recently what his mom went through to get him and his brother to the beach every summer. Amen.

I make lists to help me out—one for each of us and for the dog, if he’s on the itinerary. The problem is I lose the lists. Like when I went to the grocery store the other day and accidentally tossed my grocery list while cleaning trash out of the Baby Beluga (our white Honda Civic).

There was no fricking way I was going to dig around in the smelly bin outside Ingles to find that list. So I winged it. My kids were bummed because I forgot the squeeze yoghurt and popsicles.

And I’m pretty hardcore about the grocery list. If it’s not on the list, I don’t buy it. But when I lose the list, they’re supposed to give me a pass. So I’m a hypocrite.

But back to packing the car. Typically, I pack everything in bags — clothes, food, books, swim stuff, gear, etc. — then leave it to Enviro-spouse to get it all into the Mommy van (she’s not worthy of having her own moniker).

So he packs the van. Then I repack it. Because he’s usually added crap I think we don’t need. Or he’s placed something, like a beach umbrella, in a position where it could become a flying missile of death should we have a fender bender.

I’m trying to let go and trust that the guy with engineering degrees can pack a car by himself. But I have better days than others with that. I’m even coercing the kids to pack their own stuff — both their suitcases and then the van. Although I second guess them and check it all, especially after the girl once neglected to pack any undies for a four-day trip (I’ve done the same — but going commando doesn’t make me cry as it did her — or necessitate a trip to a godforsaken mall).

There also was the time we forgot our hanging clothes, for a wedding no less, and had to detour back home. Luckily, we were only about 15 miles away. This and having forgotten other stuff probably gives E-spouse the impetus to over pack. But I despise feeling like the Beverly Hillbillies as we drive down the road. I still want to be able to pack light, move light, and escape quickly if needs be. As if…

Then there’s the explosion, otherwise known as unpacking, that looks like the proverbial circus clown car. While I’m feisty about packing well and lightly, I’m totally relaxed about unpacking — probably because it appeals to my instinct for quick escape (since our laundry baskets rarely get decanted into dressers and closets, we simply can toss them into the van when it’s time to run from the zombie apocalypse).

Yet I admire my middle sister, who always unpacks everything, into dresser drawers, even in a hotel room (her family doesn’t seem to live out of laundry baskets either). There are lots of genetic links between us, but this isn’t one of them.  I’ve been known to live out of a packed bag, either on the road or at home, for weeks. And when I finally get around to dumping out the contents of the kids’ suitcases, they’re like, “Cool, that’s where that T-shirt was.”

All this makes me wonder how people have more than two kids or even more than one dog and manage to go anywhere. You folks have guts. And I’m talking to my sisters — both of whom have three kids but no dogs. And mad organizational skillz.

I’m just glad this will be the last time I have to repack the Mommy van this summer.







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