How to pack for a weekend trip

Tomorrow, we’re taking a trip to a far-away land in the North to attend a cousin’s wedding.  It is the first time we’ll have seen many members of my side of the family in a whole lotta years, and I have to say I’m excited about it, even if it means there is an 8-hour car ride between us and them.  (I’m trying not to think about that part of it)  In order to get six kids ready for such weekend, however, today was replete with its fair share of chaos.  To be honest, unless there is a wedding, a funeral, or a holiday in the works, we are a “casual Friday” every day kind of group, if you catch what I’m saying.  We don’t have school uniforms to keep us honest and well-dressed, and we prefer the less-dressy spectrum of the clothing world.  In addition to that, the iron is my kryptonite, and that is not even an exaggeration.  Even as I’ve gotten older, I still haven’t matured to the point of enjoying a good ironing session.  And yet, the fact of the matter remains:  six kids, plus me, must be well-dressed by Saturday at 4:30pm (and preferably before; I don’t enjoy being late.)   Here are my easy steps for getting a family ready to travel plus look fab for an event.

1.  NEVER start before the day before departure.  If you pack too early, you run the risk of the kids noticing that those fancy clothes are actually nice, and they’ll probably show up for breakfast wearing them a day or two before you’re supposed to leave.  Then they’ll probably spill something on the “guaranteed to stain” list of food and drink, and it’ll be back to the drawing board.  In fact, I recommend hiding the dress shirts in a location that only you know.

2.  Give up on finding matching black socks unless they are purchased new before every event.  Since we converted the laundry room to the kids’ family closet, we have sock buckets, which I have to say revolutionized my life. Instead of having to pair up socks tediously every time they come through the laundry (or half of them do…I am right?! AM I RIGHT!?!), the boys have buckets for white socks and buckets for any other kind of sock.  Even though there are no less than 475 black socks down there in those buckets, son #4 could not find two that matched to save his life today.  I made him keep trying until he was coming up with weird ways to manipulate (i.e. roll, scrunch, etc.) one sock to make it look like it matched the other one.  I was not fooled, and he was completely frustrated.  It was ridiculous, but somehow he found two that were the same.  That or I went batty in the process and gave up.  Please, if anyone who will be at the wedding is reading this, do NOT check Andrew’s socks.  It’s quite possible that they don’t match and it’s also quite possible that only one made it into the suitcase.

3. Seriously start to wonder if anyone would notice if the kids showed up in their swim trunks and suits, since that was the one thing they all managed to drag upstairs and cheerfully pack in the pile.

4.  Make a mental note and write it on every calendar, smart phone, and any other device that next time, it would save time to just take all the clothes to the dry-cleaner and have them prep the clothes.  It would preserve my mental health, to be sure, and if I started saving my pennies now, I’d certainly be able to handle that bill.

5. SHOES.  Shoes are a major problem, mostly because they aren’t worn enough to know whether they still fit at the time of the event.  Ask kids to please make sure they find (a job in itself) the shoes they wore to the last event.  Remind children, though, that locating the shoes is only half the battle.  The shoes MUST be put on the feet to see if they actually fit.  You may roll your eyes, but there was a reason Bill Cosby’s “The Same Thing Happens Every Night” routine was such a hilarious success.  It’s real life, people.

6. Purpose to take pictures once everyone is dressed, but before the sleeves are rolled up and dinner is served.  There should always be proof that for a beautiful five minutes, the khakis were ironed and the shirts were crisp.  After that, all bets are off as to whom will win the “I was first to squirt mustard on my shirt today!” award.

7.  Be incredibly thankful that somehow, somehow, although we had to purchase two pairs of shoes and one dress for a redhead, there were shirts to fit the spectrum of sizes we have in this family and everything is in order by 10pm the night before we’re scheduled to leave.

That, in itself, has got to be a pre-Christmas miracle.  And speaking of Christmas…..that means I’ll have to do this all over again….  I’ve got to go and make that note about the dry-cleaner…..




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