Vacations: A Packing Routine for Kids

Disclosure Statement: I let my kids fail... occasionally... on purpose. There are few lessons sweeter in life than the ones taught by experience; by mistakes you make yourself and natural consequences that play out. Thus is the case with letting our children pack for themselves. The above picture looks like a suitcase that a child would pack before that child had proper training and a chance to learn from mistakes.

This is what my car looks like from my seat... only this isn't my car. I still haven't worked up to the blog fatal car post. I'm convinced ya'll would report me if you saw it in real life. Yes, I see many seats and by the beginning of our vacation, they're full of kids 'n "Stuff."
I used to stress about packing for the family... then we had baby #4 and I decided to turn my stress over to my kids. Here is how I pack for vacation with little or no stress and raise responsible children at the same time:
  1. Make sure I'm a caught up on laundry the week before.
  2. Assign husband to pack for himself. I pack ZERO of my HEROE'S things. Zip.
  3. Make a list of every clothing item my kiddos will need.
  4. Duplicate said list 5 times and deliver to each kid along with a suitcase and a deadline.
  5. Tell them to put their bag by the front door when it's packed.
  6. Pack baby's things.
  7. Pack my things.
  8. Pack food.
  9. Put off packing car until husband comes home and does it for me...
  10. take shower and brush teeth for the day.
  11. Enjoy watching our vacation unfold as I see what my kids packed... every trip has a memory and darn it... those punk-a-noodles forget very little these days.
Nope, not my car either... getting closer. I couldn't bear to make this picture any bigger... you get a pretty good idea by just squinting... now multiply times 6 kids. Uhh.
Yes, I've seen my oldest son show up at church with white athletic socks and black dress loafers. I've seen my daughter barter for underwear from her brother (good thing he packed extra). I've laughed to see my son pack 5 pair of pants with 2 shirts for a week and laughed harder when his little brother brought a perfect list including toothbrush and toothpaste when I forgot them myself. I now have a 6 year old who forgets nothing. My kids are packing savvy and I am stress free.... almost... well... I may be seeking the unattainable with a family of 8.

Do your kids pack for vacations?
Don't forget the all things Bird Party next Monday! If you decorate with cages, nests, twigs, eggs or the like, you need to post and link up! Grab this image and tell your friends...


Karen at Nittany Inspirations said...

Good post. My husband packs for himself. I tease him that he packs like a woman. He always brings too much. Even many different shoes.

Pam said...

My 8 year old has packed for himself for quite some time. He always wanted to - like 3 weeks ahead of schedule. I used to do a visual check when he was finished. Now I just do a verbal check because he does a really good job. I go ahead and pack for my hubby. I'm a SAHM and he works long hours. We're a family of three, so it's no biggie.

Beverly said...

Thank you, thank you for posting that you DON'T pack for your husband. I don't do this either and you wouldn't believe the grief I've gotten--not from him, from other women! I did the list thing with the kids, too. That always works well.

Kira said...

Does that mean you are going on vacation HERE soon?!?!? :)

southerninspiration said...

Nope I don't pack for anyone else, either....helps that kids are nearly adults, but I still ask do they have toothbrush, toiletries, etc. They roll their eyes and say "yes mom...". Hubby packs for himself, too, always has.

Good for you for teaching your kids to be independent!

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

I stopped helping my husband pack when we arrived at a destination and he had no underwear. I had to draw the line at that point - when it becomes my fault his underwear wasn't packed!

Sarah & Crew said...

You rock! I loved this post. We have a camping trailer that we spend 10-15 days a month at in summer. I cannot tell you how many times I have packed everything for my kids and the Mister, but forgot everything of my own. We're leaving Friday morning, and I'm delivering my dear childrens' lists to them right now :)

Carla said...

I am doing this in baby steps this last trip which we don't do very often so there isn't allot of times for them to learn. To oldest I don't make a list or a check what they bring they bring not my problem they are teenagers, two middle I let them pack then I check it and make them fix what is wrong with it. The little girls I pack they are 2 and in kindergarten, the kindergarten I tell her to get things like pj,s how many socks, underwear,swimsuit She actually would probably pack a pretty good bag.
I use to pack DH Then I just would ask him if her got this, this and this. I don't even do that now nope I have six kids, myself, bathroom bag to pack and food.
However when we going into a theme park a couple weeks ago that took us 1/2 hour from parking to getting in the gate. I asked about his phone, he said he didn't grab it , he thought I would. I of course bought it programmed , charged it, I made sure we had all the supplies to survive the day in a park with 6 kids and not spend and arm and leg,and I had my phone. why wouldn't I also grab his phone!? I wanted to hurt him it took all I had to not make a scene. I "said I gave birth to 6 kids not 7 you do not get to be on that list of me taking care of every little thing for you, you are the other adult." I didn't feel bad 1 minute ( o.k for a moment, but he needed to learn the lesson this time) to say yes when He said ?should I go back and get it do we really need it" and it took about an hour for him to go get it and meet back up with us. will he remember it next time? unfortunately I doubt it. :)

Pretty Organizer said...

Aaaaa... I didn't realize this would become a husband post! Look at all of you well trained ladies!

Beverly, grief from other women? Goodness! I'd stand united with you girl.

Kira... yes toward mid/ end of july. Mentally preparing ;)

Frosty said...

What a helpful list, I especially love "I pack zero for my HERO"! I seriously just adopted this! We are heading to vacation in a few weeks and I too let my kids pack their suitcases. My theory is you forget it, it wasn't that important. (We've had to make mad dashes to Walmart for new undies as these are too often the missing item in their suitcases.)

Enjoy your trip!

Magic Brush said...

Just got home last night. Wish I had seen this first!!!!! Once I went on a skin trip with my hubby and friends and I forgot ski pants and gloves. Nice... I never have lived that down!!!

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Great post! I need to start making my husband pack for himself...it's like having a 3rd child. Really. ;)

Reese said...

I loved this post!
I quit packing for my husband years ago. I am not taking any responsibility for the things that he leaves at home.
I try to let my 10yo pack, but she almost went to camp without pj's. She would've been ok. I cannot imagine what my 4yo would pack. "Who needs underwear?"
Have a wonderful trip!!!
With a family of 8, I think it would be a successful trip if you arrive home with all of your people. LOL!

Maria said...

My children are grown and gone... but...
Here's one trick I used which I'm certain is not a new one...

A complete outfit (Socks, underwear, shirt, shorts/pants or skirt... *even hair bows if there's time* all except shoes) goes in a Ziploc bag. Pack as many as needed + one or two extra...and one or two extra plain whites of shirts/socks/underwear to match all.

I not only did this for our 3 kids when we went to CA for two weeks back in '92... but when my father was convalescing ... this strategy really helped my husband get through the time I spent away.

This is so fabulous because not only does it completely organize the packing *suitcases also STAY neat* but when you get there...the kids can dress themselves with ease.
Bonnes Vacances!

Teresa at Kid Friendly Family Vacations said...

I have four kids, and we approach packing much like you do - I mention the number of days that we will be gone, and tell them to have their bags ready....

Lisbon Accommodations said...

Nice Post.

Very useful for new moms.

Anonymous said...

I let my oldest pack her own bag and check after the youngest has done hers or we would end up with 99 stuffed lovies on the trip, lol.

As for hubby, he was in the Army and he can pack better than anyone I have ever seen. That man could fit a tank in the back of my van and we would still have room for the cooler, lol.

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