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Pack quickly. I have a knack for packing so slowly, that it becomes a 3 day extravaganza.  Set a timer for 30 minutes and GO. No breaks until the timer goes off. That means no checking Facebook, no Tweeting, no sips of Prosecco, no scribbling down your thoughts on meteorites in the universe.

Do not tell your children, “Pull out some clothes to bring!” because they will pull out leg warmers, a ski parka from 3 years ago, rain boots, a faux rabbit fur scarf, a hula skirt, a Santa hat, a white glove, Mardi Gras beads and pink neon hair spray.

Instead, direct them to pull out 5 shirts, 4 pairs of shorts, one sweater, 4 sets of pajamas, 5 pairs of underwear and a bathing suit. They will forget many of this because they will spend most of their time searching for their favorite Superman pajamas that they haven’t worn in 5 months but now CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.

Edit their piles of clothes, removing the sombrero and the Barbie dream house. Throw it all into a suitcase and zip it up before they can shove other stuff in. They will try to convince you that each kid needs their own suitcase. Do not bother explaining that you aren’t showing up at the airport with 5 separate suitcases. Just say, “Great idea. Maybe next trip! High five! I have something to show you downstairs!”

Now you have to pack for yourself which is difficult because you forgot to do your own laundry. That sort of leaves you with your second tier clothes. Remove a couple items that are your favorites from the laundry basket – you can clean these while on vacation (you won’t).

Pull out the other clothes from the closet. You will forget something major. Like a bra. Or contacts. Or a bathing suit. The sooner you accept this, the better things will go. But try to remember shoes.

Oh wait, your kids’ shoes! Run around collecting some of them (if they match all the better!) and shove them in the childrens’ suitcase.

Pack toiletries for everyone. This will include a nearly empty bottle of shampoo, 47 hairbands and sunscreen.

Time to pack up a bag for the plane. You need food. You need lollipops, you need books (real ones with pages that turn instead of swipe), DVD players, headphones, crayons and paper.

What you don’t need: whatever book you are reading because if you have any kid under 2, you won’t be reading. You will be pacing up and down the aisles, waiting for the child to poop so you can cram yourself into an airplane bathroom and change him/her. If you’re lucky maybe your child will poop twice! Hey, at least it’s an activity.

Congratulations! You have finished packing. Now all you have to do is travel.

mama bird notes:

Join me again for ABC’s “Bet on Your Baby” where parents try to win college money by guessing their toddler’s next move. And these kids are ridiculously cute and funny. Follow me as I live-tweet ABC’s @betonyourbaby tomorrow (Saturday) @ 8pm EST while also supporting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.  

Also this week, I’ve been at Lifetime Moms writing about a woman who dared breastfeed at her college graduation. The nerve! And also, a Wake Me Up When I’m Skinny shirt for pregnant women. Is it funny or offensive?

P.S. I don’t know why my blog looks weird (if it still does). I’m working on fixing it. And by “working on it”, I mean madly emailing my tech person who is probably already on vacation.

6 Responses to tips for packing up too many children this summer

  • Suzanne says:

    Yes, your blog does look weird. I usually read on my RSS feed and don’t have graphics, so my initial thought was, “Wow. Mama Bird Diaries is all sleek and hardcore now.”

  • kath says:

    GAH!!!!! Bloody awful advert. It wouldn’t close AT ALL. It took me three tries to get to your blog. Terrible.

    Blog, when I finally made it here, does not look weird.

  • LeeAnn Fritsch says:

    Having five children, and at least three road trips a year with said children (and a dog) (and a husband), I have mastered the packing/vacationing skill. First step is to build a spreadsheet. This is the spreadsheet you will use/edit/ignore for every trip. There will be different versions of the spreadsheet to access. I currently use three: Summer, Winter, Florida. Print out spreadsheet detailing how many of what item they need to pack, and they all have a duffel to pack it in, if it doesn’t fit, it sits. All of their hygiene items are to be brought to me so we can pack them in my monster train case. (Best part about going to Grandma’s house is this step can be bypassed, we have duplicates there.) If you know we are going on a trip, and you know you’ll want to wear something, but it’s dirty, get it in the laundry. Your “I forgot to wash it” doesn’t make it my responsibility to chase it down. If it’s dirty, move on, find a better replacement. We have a hanging bag for…well hanging stuff. Husband and I DO NOT share a suitcase, he packs more than I do, and I do not pack his stuff. He forgets it, he buys it when we get there…where ever there may be. Shoes…shoes have their own bag (hate foot smell on clothes). You get three: flips, tennies, church, choose wisely and wear one.
    Car entertainment is the biggest challenge. Thank Goodness for books on disc. DS’s. iWhatevers. Real (paper) books. Nooks. MP3’s. And decks of cards. Backpacks are recommissioned from school duty to car duty. If if doesn’t fit, it sits.
    Dog…we used to have one…she was the easiest. Leash, bowls, food, and ice for road snacks. And the ubiquitous tennis balls in various forms of desiccation.
    Snacks. Ah, and there in lies the rub. How to feed seven people food that they will eat, when they all don’t like the same foods. The answer came to me one day when I was standing in the “how can they eat this crap” aisle. Screw the chips, crackers, gummies, bars, fish, whips, squares, etc. They can all eat fresh veggies and fruit. And if they don’t like it, fine, don’t eat. Here’s some gum. We pack water bottles so that we don’t get all sugared up with no place to play.
    Potty breaks? Yeah, we have three. They happen when the driver stops for gas. This also happens to be when we get lunch/dinner. No loosey goosey on the stops there.
    But, we get there (where ever there is) and we are glad to be out of the van.

    The worst trips? Christmas, when all the gifts are in the van with us, in bins, in boxes, in the topper…misery…

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kelcey kintner