The OTHER Packing To-Do List

By Juli

My kids and I are leaving tomorrow to go work at a camp for a week, and we are all very, very excited. Camp means so many wonderful things — fun with friends, crafts, activities, good conversations and hopefully spending quality time together as a family. Unsurprisingly, however, I have a packing and to-do list that are each a mile long, and I ended up with a lot more to do today than I bargained for.

My regular to-do list has the usual things on it around packing and preparing for the week away. However, I also have ANOTHER to-do list, which I don’t often articulate or write down, mostly because I don’t usually have to think of these things, I automatically just DO them because I have learned the HARD WAY. However, today I wrote them down, because I figured that they might help somebody else out there who is also planning a summer trip.

So if that is you, you are welcome, and, I’m sorry:

1. Go through the backpacks that your kids packed themselves. Remove the random garbage they packed, like the broken handle of a ladle they found in the garbage, the ball of hair they have accumulated and/or the several sticks and rocks from “their collection” that they “need” to take with them. Be discreet as you discard these items.

2. Clean out the car, partly so you’ll enjoy your trip more sitting in a cleanish car, partly because there’s a good chance other people at the camp will see your car and try to helpfully remind you again, like the many others who came before them, about the banana peel that’s turning hard and brown in the side pocket of the door. In case you forget to remove it again, spend some time preparing a look that communicates that you already knew about the banana peel, and something like “kids, right!?”, even though you’re the one who left the banana peel there in the first place.

3. Ask yourself: have you packed snacks? Yes? Good. Are they in identical packaging and in identical-down-to-the-milligram pre-portioned amounts? Yes? Good. Are they right beside you in the front, ready to be tossed into the backseat at the first sign of hangryness? Yes? Yas.

4. Get a good sleep the night before you leave. Oh… Too late for that, because you were up half the night packing, and the other half was spent squeezed in your bed between a toddler and a hard place? Oh well. At least you’ll sleep terribly at camp, too.

5. Don’t forget to forget to make a reservation for the ferry, because that is IMPORTANT. Also, did you take out a second mortgage to cover the cost of ferries and, most importantly, ferry food? Because you will run out of those snacks you so carefully and strategically packed approximately five minutes after you have left your house.

6. Take some time to breathe and let go. Let go of the mosquito bites that you know your children will be covered in. Let go of the filth your children will be covered in. Let go of the filth you yourself will be covered in, because it’s life, and camp, and who really cares, right? Also, don’t forget the wet wipes, for when you stop “letting go” and start holding on again and frantically wiping down yourself and your children with wet wipes while batting away mosquitoes.

7. Spend some time day-dreaming about the vacation you would need to recover from this vacation. It will never happen, of course, but nobody can take away your power to DREAM. Except your children, possibly. They have an uncanny way of entering into and destroying those day-dreams with such powerful words as; “Mommy, S tried to pack the Spider-Man bubble bath in our suitcase, but it opened and spilled out all over our clothes!” Yes. That will do it.

8. Lastly, pack an extra pair of flip-flops. Because yours will break the very first day. And momma, you need a little something for yourSELF, like flip-flops that actually flip and flop, and also a huge stash of chocolate bars in your suitcase.

Seaweed, an Octopus and a princess (I'm NOT a "Sea Princess!") at Last year's "Under The Sea"-themed camp. See! Somehow we make it up there.

Seaweed, an Octopus and a grumpy princess (I’m NOT a “Sea Princess!”) at Last year’s “Under The Sea”-themed camp. This picture was taken a few hours before my flip-flops bit the dust.


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