Packing for the Holidays … The Stress-less way!
Packing and organising to go away for Christmas or the summer holidays can be a really stressful thing to do with your partner and family.
And we have had every fight in the book around this time of year, stress, tiredness (from kids and parents), nerves, leaving stuff not done that was meant to be done, and arguing over how the car is packed and whose responsibility it was to remember the first aid kit, or the chain for the dog.
Now, most of you won’t be doing as much travelling as we do every year, because for us, the travel always includes a 2-day drive, over thousands of kilometres to make it from near the bottom of the South Island, NZ, to the middle of the North Island NZ, for Christmas with my family. When we lived in the North Island, we would have to spend time every year travelling down to the South Island to see my husband’s family. This is the reality when you marry someone from a different part of the country than you!
Over the years we have figured out that unless we want the first part of the joyous holiday to be one in bitterness, anger or irritation, we need to do the packing in a particular way. And these things may also be relevant in your family, so if you need some tips, keep reading:
- Remembering everything is important to me, but it is not important for my husband. The solution here is that if it’s important to me, then I have to be the one to write the lists, and put the important things in the bags. I also need to do this without resentment – I will be happier if we have everything that is on the list – my problem = my responsibility.
- Kids like to have some ownership over what they pack for the holidays. A good idea is to sit in a space and send the kids away to get – 4 t-shirts, and then wait till they all bring them back, before you send them away again for 2 sweatshirts …. etc. – They get ownership of the items in the bag, but you know that everything they need is covered – does it really matter if their favourite top has a stain on the arm? They will be happy and so will you at the lack of complaining.
- Have one adult pack the car! – This is crucial. Whoever the person is that loves the packing should be the one to do it. That means that one person knows where everything is, and how to find it. If neither of you likes packing the car – take turns. The quickest way to an argument is when you are both trying to rush packing, while corralling children who are anxious to get away. – One person packing always knows where stuff is – two people packing always struggle to find anything!
- The food packing. If you have children then you have to pack snacks and drink-bottles, otherwise you’ll be stopping constantly and getting frustrated at the constant “when is it time to eat” dialogue coming from the backseat. In our house I pack the car and my husband packs the food. He has to feed them as we drive anywhere and pass food back to them, as I get carsick and do most of the driving. The staples in our food bag are – sandwiches (a whole loaf made into vegemite, jam and honey sandwiches), raisins and other dried fruit, nuts, apples (they bruise less than other fruits, and have less waste), and some ginger biscuits or crackers (they are hard and not crumbly). My husband also packs a knife, and wooden board, along with some tomatoes, cheese, avocados etc. in a container, so that if we stop on the side of the road we can easily make some crackers up with something yummy, or buy some buns en-route and can add something to them. – One person in charge of the food is a good idea – they know what there is, where it is, and can give it out as needed.
- Have a bag on top with all the togs and towels in it – if you are travelling and want to stop at a beach, lake, or river – not having to wade through all the bags to find everyone’s togs is just sensible planning.
This year is all about minimalist packing for us – the bare essentials, and a couple of extras. It is really easy to over-pack, and the last couple of years I have been a champ of the over-packing. But wherever we go, there is always a washing machine, and if something is REALLY needed then we can always buy it when we are away.
Holiday Tip – Travelling is so much brighter, lighter, and happier, if the car is not full to exploding, and there has been some organisation.