Friday, October 30, 2009

Tips for packing with kids in tow

Once upon a time it was easy to travel. My husband and I would wake up, shower, pack our bags and leave. I think we could pull the whole thing off in under an hour.

And then came Truman.

I can’t say we weren’t warned. Our friends with kids told that packing a baby justified buying enormous SUVs. You had to make room for the Pack’n’Play, bouncy seat, portable high chair, enough for three changes of clothes per day, loads of diapers, baby wipes, bottles, formula, dissolving-in-the-mouth baby snacks, blankets, toys he had little interest in, and so on. I am a list-maker so packing consisted mainly of checking off items. And that was Rick’s job. He does most of the heavy lifting.

In some ways, my job was more tiring. I handled the child. Depending on my son’s age and abilities, I was either changing diapers or feeding or chasing my son around the house or keeping him away fro Rick so Rick could do his packing chores. Since my son was born with energy, this was never an easy job. To complicate matters, once my darling son started talking, he never stopped.

He’s almost 6 now, and we decided to use the long weekend (afforded us by a school district-appointed parent-teacher conference day with no classes) to head to the beach before the winter months forced us indoors. You’d think packing for the trip would be easier. We’re taking far fewer things than we did when Truman was a baby. We did load up his bike, though, and a cooler full of juice pouches and wine. Truman, however, continues to challenge us in this endeavor.

Here’s our conversation this morning while Rick and I tried desperately to pack:
“Mommy.” Yes, love.
“Mommy, guess what, Mommy.” What?
“I’m making a candy corn man.” That’s great, honey.
“Look Mommy.” I see, love. That’s a great candy corn man.
“Mommy?” Yes.
“I need the tape.” OK
“Can you give me the tape, Mommy.” Can I what?
“I mean, please. Can you please give me the tape please?” In a minute, honey. I’m up to my elbows in clothes.
“But Mommy.” But what?
“Guess what Mommy?” What.
“Mommy, guess what? Guess what I did.” Oh….what?
“I got glitter glue on the table. Can you clean it up for me?”

Ok, so know you know why we pack the cooler with wine.

packing babyPlanning on a trip with the kids soon? Here are some packing trips to help reduce your stress level. Feel free to add any of your own secrets. I could always use more!

  • Make a list of every thing you need to bring. It’s easy to forget even the most obvious things when you pack under stress.
  • Do as much in advance as possible, such as while the kids are asleep. No kidding.
  • Tag team. I usually pack while Rick chases Truman around the house. I take over Truman duty while Rick loads the car. However, lately Truman wants to help Daddy put things in the car, which can be stressful for someone like Rick who has a car-packing plan he’s working.
  • Give your child a small back or backpack to fill with his own things – toys, books, markers and paper, etc. This can occupy a curious kid for several minutes. But you’ll want to be sure he hasn’t left anything out, such as markers to go with the drawing pads or the coveted track for his Hotwheels.
  • If traveling by car, have him arrange the area around him. Rick oversees this part, but he does give Truman some say. This way our son knows where to find what he needs when he needs it.
  • When all else fails, turn to Spongebob. I’m not sure what it is about that show that mesmorizes my child so. But sometimes it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Photo, Flickr, melinal

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