Leaving the House Without Losing Your Mind

The title for this one came from a friend. Pretty descriptive, isn’t it? For those of us who can instantly relate to the phrase, here are some things to think about.

Be ready before you get ready to leave. Allowing enough time in your day to get ready is key here. When you do your daily planning, know what is coming and make sure you can prepare effectively. If not, rearrange or cut something out. Set yourself up for success.

On the way out the door to the ballgame is not the time to think about the snacks you volunteered to bring. If you look at your calendar before grocery shopping, you’ll have the box ready and waiting when it’s time.

It’s so tempting to put off getting gas, but it hurts to have to stop when you are running late. Keep the tank maintained, and you’ll be ready to go.

Replenish the diaper bag when you come home (and still remember that you are used all the clean clothes), and you will be ready to pick it up and walk out the door. It may not be possible the minute you walk in the door, but resetting soon, after immediate needs are met, will save you time and energy in the long run.

Keep items that need to go somewhere in a spot by the door. I have a bench  and a shelf by the front door so I see stuff that should come with me (i.e., a book to return at the library, a gift for a friend). If it’s not the very next trip, I will see it again before the trip I need it.

Strategic things in strategic places. If you always need tissues or wipes wherever you are, keep a pack in your purse, in your car, in your backpack — wherever you are regularly. The less you need to remember to bring with you, the less time you spend.

We have a bowl of individually packaged snacks on the kitchen island, ready to grab on the way out the door as needed. No need to go scrounging at the last minute. They are replenished when needed when groceries are put away, not when it’s time to leave.

Take a minute to plan. Your stops, your route, what you need, etc. Know what you are doing before you pull out of the driveway. It’s safer, for one thing, but it also will eliminate U-turns and confusion. That minute up front pays off with no frustrating minutes later. This also gives you one last chance to remember something you may need to bring with you.

Cleaning up after yourself along the way helps here too. You don’t need to stop to clean the house before you leave just to avoid coming back to a mess. Pick up messes as you go, and you can walk in and out the door with a (reasonably) clean view.

Pack It Up

Summer is just around the corner. Any travel plans on your schedule?

One thing that makes it easier to prepare for any trip is being ready to pack all the time. There are three things always in my suitcase:

  • Toiletry bag(s) — to hold travel versions or travel containers or duplicates (i.e., hairbrush) of everything; you may need to add a medicine pack, but there is a lot that can be ready and waiting
  • Charge cords pouch — duplicates of cords for charging phones and other electronics mean they are not forgotten and ready to use when you hit the guest room
  • Plastic laundry bag — always ready for use; when we come home, the contents are dumped in the hamper and returned to the suitcase

Using pouches for these things also means it is easy to switch to another suitcase if that were needed (bigger or smaller, depending on the trip). When it’s time to pack, all that needs to go in is clothes and shoes.

Note: It may help to have a list of things you need to remember written on a card that you keep in your suitcase. That would help you with the things that need to be packed that aren’t ready to go all the time.

Another help is to pack light. Really. It’s tempting to make sure you are ready for every remote possibility, I know. In reality, chances are slim that you will need all the extras, but it is guaranteed you will have to deal with all the extra stuff for your whole trip. You can save some effort by remembering this.

  • Go through your expected schedule and pack what you need. In reality, you will almost always be able to adjust with what you have packed when plans change.
  • If you are going for more than a weekend, plan to do laundry. It’s easier to get 1-2 hours free to do a load or two at some point than it is to drag tons of outfits and sort through them in the suitcase every day. Most hotels have a laundry room, most hostesses will have no problem with you using their facilities, and laundromats are all over if neither of those is available to you on a trip. Note: The more people in your group, the more this tactic benefits you.
    Pack 2-3 outfits for the activities you expect, and hit the road.

As you pack your clothes, use packing cubes or roll up your clothes tightly (like a taquito). You will maximize the space, and it will be easier to grab what you need.

Finally, if you will arrive at your destination (or an in-between destination) late at night. Consider putting pajamas and the toiletry bag at the top of the suitcase (or bag). You won’t have to unpack everything, just reach in and grab what you need for the night before falling into bed.