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Packing for Vacation = Pain in the A$$

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One friend's Facebook status update this summer: "Up late packing for five. I need a vacation after this vacation." Note, my friend has two kids. Do the math.

stressed woman
Emily Miller: Labor Day weekend means a lot of people are hitting the road and the skies for a last-ditch summer getaway. What part of the weekend getaway makes you want to choose staycation? Packing.

My sympathy is mostly for my mom friends because they don't just pack for themselves, they pack for their kids, and often, their husbands.

One friend's Facebook status update this summer: "Up late packing for five. I need a vacation after this vacation." Note, my friend has two kids. Do the math.

I dropped by my friend Heather's house the night she was packing for herself and two little boys for an overseas vacation.

As she was carefully preparing for all weather possibilities -- packing them sweaters, bathing suits, rain jackets, crocs -- her youngest was taking the water wings out of the suitcase to blow them up, while the other opened the box of Band-Aids and stuck them all over himself.

Heather's constant refrain of telling the boys to stop taking things out of the suitcases as she packed made an already complicated task take all night.

Packing for driving trips is no less complicated for moms. In July, I went to the beach with my friend Laura and her three kids, all under nine years old, while her husband was on a fishing trip.

The morning we left, I stood outside her house watching in shock as she produced one packed bag after another and organized them in the car. My offers to help were brushed aside, as the routine was as precise as coloring inside the lines.

All three kids had a separate bag, which included bathing suits, T-shirts, shorts, long-sleeve shirts, socks, underwear, towels (beach and bath), and pajamas.

Then Laura pulled together shovels and lacrosse sticks and tied three small bikes on the car rack. Next came two coolers with all the snacks -- each separated in three small Ziploc bags -- with carrots, goldfish, cheese sticks, and drinks needed for the three-hour drive to avoid feeding them junk food on the road.

Oh, and THEN Laura packed for herself, towels for me, a Diet Coke for the road, and magazines.

The invasion of Iraq was easier than this operation.

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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
abbi September 4, 2009, 8:29 AM

give me a break.
make a list for each member of the house, have them check-off what they’ve packed until the list is done.

why do you feel the need to overcomplicate things by trying to be a “supermommy”?

it’s kind of silly because you’re not a supermommy, the job would be better if you delegated the roles, and you’d have less stress.

why don’t you loosen your iron grip on the reins and relax and see that you’re not the only person in the world who’s “capable”, because clearly by this article, you’re not capable, so grow up and find a better way to do things instead of more bitching.


Jill September 4, 2009, 9:09 AM

I agree. Once children are of an age to be responsible, they can follow a simple checklist and certainly pack their own books and toys for the road. I, myself, like to pack; I find the challenge of getting everything into as few bags as possible quite a joy. I also start many days in advance, not the night before. But that’s just me. And I’m no supermom.

Glenn September 4, 2009, 10:57 AM

If you have five kids (or even two kids for that matter) and start packing the night before a big trip then you get what you deserve.

A note to moms out there. Our family goes on trips often and my wife packs for my son. I did try to pack his luggage once because my wife gets stressed about it so I thought I’d do her a favor. BIG MISTAKE. It took me all of ten minutes to pack for him for a two week trip, took me twelve minutes to pack my bag. This was a couple days before our trip. The night before we left, my wife took out all the things I’d packed for my son and repacked his bag. I watched from the sidelines, took her over an hour and she changed perhaps two items, she was extremely ragged afterward packing her own bag as well. I have never packed for my son again. I don’t believe in non-value added work and often trying to help my wife is non-value added.

I must admit that am pretty good at packing and my wife is not (though she believes otherwise). Often people create their own stress when things should be easy. Packing for a trip shouldn’t be stressful if you give yourself enough time and are organized.

Immobilier Bretagne March 6, 2011, 9:21 PM

Can I simply say what a reduction to find somebody who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You positively know the best way to carry a difficulty to mild and make it important. Extra people must learn this and understand this facet of the story. I cant believe youre no more standard because you positively have the gift.

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