Since having children, I have become (had to become) a mistress of organisation and efficiency and this is particularly true when packing the family up to go away.
Quite simply, there is no room to for error.
Forget the dummy, the baby screams all flight and won’t go to sleep when you need him to; forget the iPad and the toddler is restless and difficult on a long train journey.
And that’s the thin end of the wedge. Leave behind a beloved teddy and your life is basically OVER until you get back. The formula powder is also fairly key.
And nappies, yup, pretty essential when you are dealing with a code brown mid-flight.
It is all just bloody important kit. All of it! And it needs to be instantly retrievable at short notice.
It’s why I’ve become a mumma of the military order when it comes to packing.
Here are some of my deeply geeky tips.
Tip 1: Make multiple lists
I’ve learnt that one list simply doesn’t cut it. These days I take a crisp sheet of A4 and make four lists.
List 1 is Handbag – this includes all the things that I will need TO HAND over the course of our journey, ie, formula dispenser, nappy bag, dummies, snacks, passports, tampax, calpol etc, which will be put in/clipped to a special multi-sectioned handbag/backback for the journey.
List 2 is Child 1 – this includes all the things that Child 1 will need to be packed into the main suitcase, for example, armbands, jelly shoes, sun hat, pink sparkly cardi, teddy, etc
List 3 is Child 2 – as above. Think bottles, nappies, swimming nappies, Aptamil, eczema cream, shorts, romper, sun hat etc
List 4 is Me – as above. This will read something along the lines of: contact lenses, ear plugs, eye mask, phone charger, hold-in pants, gold shoes, hoop earrings, book, black trousers etc, etc
Tip 2: Use one big suitcase as opposed to several smaller ones
One large suitcase is much more manageable than three smaller ones as it can be pulled while pushing a buggy (no husband needed!).
It also fits easily into most hire car boots, thereby avoiding any fractious games of Boot Tetris in sweltering airport car parks.
Tip 3: Use internal packing organisers
I usually keep this on the low-down, but these bring me a lot of joy.
Basically, if you are packing three people into one large suitcase, as above, life is much easier if you separate and contain each person’s things internally so they’re not in a muddle at the other end.
Cue internal packing organisers such as these from Lakeland (see through plastic blanket or clothing holders also work). On the way back, they can be used to separate out any dirty laundry.
Tragic yet life-changing.
Tip 4: Pack alone
Don’t even attempt to start packing when your children are in the same room as you.
The baby will be pulling everything out.
The toddler will be moaning that she doesn’t want that dress, but this one. You won’t be able to think straight.
Everything will get messy and disorganised. It will take ten times as long and you will forget stuff.
Remember: You need military focus for this shit!
Tip 5: Pack everything then write a final list
If you are leaving early in the morning, then you will obviously need to pack some final items before you go.
Don’t even think of trying to remember everything, even if it is just four or five things.
Just make a final list.
You can then refer back to it when the kids are in your grill and everything is chaos and be confident that nothing is forgotten.
STOP PRESS: And don’t forget to SAVE these lists on your computer.
You could even make a s.p.r.e.a.d.s.h.e.e.t. Then you can return to them the next holiday, amending them obvs in line with the changing needs of your offspring (and maybe your needs will have changed too).