Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial start of summer, is less than 72 hours away. For my family, summer means frequent trips to the Jersey Shore to stay at my parents’ beach house. And while the beach, warm sea breezes, and lots of time with cousins bring us all joy, the packing does not.
For years, I would spend Friday afternoons running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I would try to pack clothes, toys, food, and toiletries. Literally, it would take me hours and we’d only be spending 48 hours away from home. Meanwhile, my husband spent a mere 10 minutes the night before packing up a duffel bag of his own things while leaving the rest of packing of everything else up to me. By the time, I loaded the car I was sweaty, irritable, and resentful.
As our kids got older, this Friday afternoon ordeal should have gotten easier. I should have been teaching them to pack up their own things. The only problem was that I had witnessed my sister do that with her own kids and inevitably someone would arrive at the shore without a bathing suit or underwear or shoes of any kind. That kind of stress was not worth it to me.
Lightning Bolt Moment
But a few summers ago, I had the brilliant idea of creating a packing list. I gave my kids a copy and instructed them to pick out the things on the list and lay them on their beds. I’d then inspect what they laid out before they packed it up. It saved me so much time! Being the control freak that I am, I would definitely switch some things up but all in all the packing list was a life changer.
The kids are older now and not willing to listen to my outfit advice anyway. But we still use the packing list as a guide. It helps me ensure that they have underwear for the weekend and, more importantly, the list now includes things that teenagers consider essential: headphones, charges for their phones. And things that I deem necessary for them: deodorant, sunglasses, and hats for the beach.
Download a copy of my list here.