The mom’s guide to packing for your end-of-summer road trip in 20 easy steps

One week before:
1.  Set aside time to pack clothes and other items that can be packed ahead of time, to avoid rushing at the last minute.  Get distracted by a new show on Netflix.  Lose all motivation.

Three to five days before:
2.  Start dropping hints to your husband that “we” will have to start packing for vacation soon.  Hope that he takes the initiative to do most of the packing when you are at work.  Feel disappointed but not surprised that he does not.

Two days before:
3.  Retrieve suitcases from basement.  Feel accomplished.  Get distracted by lively text conversation with BFF.  Decide to do the rest tomorrow.

One day before:
4.  Gather your family.  Explain to them that everyone will be participating in packing for vacation.  Clearly and thoroughly outline expectations regarding what should/should not be packed.

5.  Check your daughter’s suitcase.  Notice that the only things she put her suitcase are stuffed animals, Barbies, gum, and two formal winter dresses.  Stifle scream.  Consider calling her back upstairs to teach her how to pack properly.  Decide it is just easier to do it yourself.

6.  Put last-minute items that need to be cleaned in the laundry.  Start folding load of laundry currently in dryer. Get interrupted by oldest child while folding to help open a yogurt container.  Watch as child spills yogurt on the floor.  Clean up yogurt with wet cloth.  Mop the rest of the floor.  Forget about the remainder of the laundry you were in the process of folding.

7.  Pack toiletry items.  Notice that bathroom mirror is foggy.  Freshen up the mirror with a spritz of Windex.  Continue to clean entire bathroom to complete the effect.

8.  Clean the rest of the house, knowing how nice it will be to come home to a sparkling clean home.

9.  Double check that everyone has packed underwear.  Almost forget to pack your own underwear.  Ponder how many and what kind of bras to bring.  Feel overwhelmed.  Take a 20 minute Facebook break.  Pack all of your bras, just in case.

10.  Check in with children regarding their progress.  Find them making elaborate Lego creations.  Get angry with them for not being done packing yet.  Chastise them for their inability to maintain focus on this task.  Send them outside to get them out of your hair.

11.  Check in with husband regarding his progress, since he is now watching Netflix on the laptop.  Listen to him tell you he is “done” packing.  Get angry at him for being done already because can’t he see you are working your butt off here?

12.  Pack snacks for the car.  Use small sandwich baggies to portion out multiple bags of Goldfish crackers with the intent to offer them at the first complaint of hunger.  Eat half a bag of chips standing in front of the pantry.  Forget why you are standing in front of the pantry and accidentally leave previously bagged goldfish sitting on pantry shelf.

Day of departure:

13.  Pack cooler.  Wonder aloud how a family of 4 could possibly need so much food for one week.  Put in some extra fruit and lunch meat, just in case.

14.  Lock all the doors.  Check all the windows to make sure they are closed.  Tell everyone you just locked all the doors so they should only enter and exit through the garage.  Watch as oldest child immediately unlocks and exits through the front door.  Stifle scream.  Lock door again.

15.  Start packing car.  Have the children help you carry as much as possible out to the van .  Watch as husband unpacks everything you just put in and repacks to his specifications.

16.  Empty dehumidifier in basement.  Notice that bottom is coated in mildew.  Scrub thoroughly with a toothbrush to loosen debris.  Rinse with 10%  bleach solution. Call family to gather around and admire your work.  Get angry with them for losing focus and not being finished with their packing.

17.  Check to make sure front door is locked.  Note that someone has unlocked it again.  Stifle scream.  Lock door again.

18.  Fill water bottles and place last minute items in car.  Shoo your children and their neighborhood friends out of the back of the van, which they have been using to “play hobos”.  Repack everything they pulled out pretending to be hobos.   

19.  Make sure everyone goes to the bathroom, and corrale your crew out to the car!  You are almost done! Don’t give up now!

20.  Pull the directions up on the GPS and settle in for the ride.  Only 5 hours of answering questions until your arrival!  Enjoy your vacation!