smiling is a poor use of time: the vacation prep blog post

I am 2 days out, people. 2. There is no more time to be clever and cute about this—there’re no spare moments for giggles. Smiling is an utter waste of time. It’s head down and forge forward. At this point in the vacation packing process, there is no time for anything but abject seriousness. Here’s a flashback to what I wrote about packing last year. You can read it while I put things in bags and move the bags around and cross things off the list and add things I forgot to the list and then cross them off also. Enjoy!

Packing is not for amateurs (or husbands)

My vacation master packing list is 6 pages long. There are the “to pack” pages, the grocery list and general shopping list pages, the meal plans page and the crafts-to-do-with-the-kids page. Every year we take the same vacation: 2 weeks at the beach. Before I had kids, I could pack in about an hour and simply get in the car and drive to the vacation. For a few dumb years, I wrote a new list every summer, racking my tender brain-folds to recall everything we would need. Then it occurred to me to type it up, save it and revise it each year. (Duh.) I do the same for my weekly groceries. Yes, I am type A. You didn’t know that already? If you’re new here, welcome!

I start working on the list about 6 weeks before vacation. I start hunting and gathering about 3 weeks before vacation. I start packing the week before vacation. I sleep only 2 hours per night lest I go off task or schedule. I eat once per day. I check and recheck. I am more thorough than the people who pack for the president when he travels. (Although I really have no idea how that works. I’m just assuming.) I forget NOTHING.

Steve (not his real name) on the other hand, packs 7 minutes before we leave. He is relaxed even before we get there. It takes me about 5 days to settle down which is why I need to vacation for 2 weeks. Or maybe forever. That would about do the job. Probably. Despite the brilliancy behind my master packing skills, I think maybe Steve (not his real name) is actually the smart one here ...

This year’s pile so far. SO FAR. Yes, there will be more. We haven’t even added the Nerfs and light sabers yet. Seriously. And we’re pretty much minimalists in our daily life. My “just in case” side clearly beats the shit out my “minimalist” side for vacation.

This year’s pile so far. SO FAR. Yes, there will be more. We haven’t even added the Nerfs and light sabers yet. Seriously. And we’re pretty much minimalists in our daily life. My “just in case” side clearly beats the shit out my “minimalist” side for vacation.

I’m actually in pretty good shape. And, secretly, I really enjoy this process. It’s a part of the fun of vacation. I love observing how every year the master list changes—sometimes markedly, sometimes in more subtle ways. I save each year’s list—one year after another in what is now a 56 page document—so looking back I can view little snapshots of our life as a family. Pack-n-plays, diapers, baby chairs were featured for many years, and then they slipped off the list. Nerfs and headlamps and art supplies have replaced them. It’s a refection of the stages of our life together. This year seems to be a middling kind of year—I didn’t cross off much of anything from the 2015 list. But one big change: the other moms and I did decide to slash our arts/activities plans. Now, let me start by saying that I am a big hands-off kind of mom when it comes to adult-led activities. I think kids benefit fundamentally from creating their own games and art based on their own choices and imagination. That being said, a few vacation craft projects never hurt anyone! This small change means the little kids aren’t so little anymore, and I suppose that is a big change in disguise. Over the last 2 summers, we’ve noticed a significant shift toward independence from the group of kids—they never lack for things to do together. So this year, it’s all about board games and bins of paper and markers and NO PLANS! I love plans more than is probably normal or medically recommended, but this kind of lack of planning is most welcome!

If you are planning your summer vacation, I wish you great success in your packing. You can even go ahead and smile. But only a little—this is still serious.



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