Can Your Kids Pack?

Have an upcoming ski trip? Headed out of town after the new year? Traveling with kids and family this winter? Does the thought of packing for the family trip fill you with dread? This certainly used to be the case for me. I have logged countless hours packing bags for family vacations, school trips, tournaments and summer camps. I think back to the times when the boys were much younger. I'd send them to their rooms to pack for a trip only to find that when we reached our destination they had packed one t-shirt, ten pairs of underwear, and no socks... you get the picture--ugh! It seemed my boys never learned from their mistakes, and they just kept packing the same way. Eventually I went back to packing their bags for them because it seemed quicker and easier. (Yet I certainly didn't need more to do.)

After significant trial and error, we're now the savviest of packers (yes--including both kids) and we often bring exactly what we need--no forgotten items or clothing--true story. The simple key to our success was taking the time to create packing lists. Together, we created lists for different types of trips: warm destinations, cold destinations, school trips, sports trips, weekends away. We tweaked the number of items based on the number of days away, we copied and pasted the essentials, and we added snacks and special items when we needed them. We named and saved each list for future use. Then we pressed "print." Evidence that our plan works: My son Finn is just about to go to Vail for a two-week, ski racing camp, and I didn't need to inspect his bag or lift a finger (other than to sneak a few special "mom" treats into his luggage). He is now a master of packing, and I may be the smuggest mom in our extended family! Together we developed a way for everyone to take responsibility for making departures easy and vacations successful. Don't get me wrong, we still bump into stress in other ways as we hit the road, but in terms of our bags, we travel a little bit lighter and a whole lot smarter. And with all this extra time I've found, now that my boys pack themselves, I can even get a pedicure the day before departure. Packing lists are a win-win for everyone in our family.

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