We are soon heading off for a short, much needed break to Center Parcs. For hubby it’s been a hard ole slog at work and with my mum away and schools out for the summer, I’ve had the girls by myself for at least 4 weeks so am desperately in need of the adult company!
In my need to be fully prepared, I admit packing began a number of weeks ago. Some of this is of course the anticipation and excitement, some, behaviours I’ve inherited from my own mother. Who likes to put aside clothes she’ll be wearing ahead of any trip so they don’t get worn. But also some must just be the “be prepared” so heavily drummed into me as a Girl Guide, apart from never having the 20p, I always had everything in that little leather pouch. ( The 20p incidentally was always used for buying sweets).
So I’ve been squirrelling away things I thought we may need into the spare bedroom making it look more like a jumble sale than the relaxed calm room it was a few weeks back.
This said I still find myself frantically packing the night before. We’ve been lucky enough to have quite a few trips away now with the girls and every time I challenge myself to pack less, worry less and enjoy the build up more. But that Girl Guide in me loves to prepare for every eventuality and when, like we are this time we are holidaying here in the U.K. the unreliable weather means, more definitely makes me a happier mummy. Wet weather gear, dry weather stuff, sun lotion and even woolly hats have made it to the pile this week.
The reality of life now is that my days of throwing a few bits in a bag and leaving the house have gone and twins mean our baggage allowance has doubled overnight. More so than ever I now rely on a few essentials to keep the trip a happy one.
Here are the top 5 and more importantly the first 5 things I prepare ahead of travelling with the girls:
1-Paper and crayons. Now this could quite possibly be the artist in me as more often than not in my own bags you’ll find a small sketchbook and a pen. The multi functional tool, diary, notebook, scribble pad, folder, sketchbook. I’ve tried keeping a diary but am rubbish at it and refuse to carry the calendar around so this works just fine and when I have the time ( yeah right!) I can draw. So as a rule of thumb I am rarely without the same equipment for the girls.
My very dear friend gave them the most amazing fabric holders for the crayons last christmas which snuggly hold a box worth of Crayola’s and roll neatly to take up minimal space in your bag. This and either plain paper or small colouring books are my best go to if the girls are bored, or if I need to keep them quiet for 10 mins. In addition I have them in my changing bag for meals out so again super useful.
2-Lots of snacks. I’m really sorry if this is a blatantly obvious one but the snack pile has been accumulating in the small bedroom for longer than any clothes. You see they don’t last very long in my household and without them I actually feel rather panicked. WHY? Well a good stash of snacks can make the M25 traffic a doodle. Lunch 2 hours later than normal? No sweat! Shreddies was not up to madams taste this morning, no worries, elevenses it is then.
What snacks, well that is a little weather and outfit dependent. Anything with Chocolate can be a little risky especially if it’s warm but is guaranteed a smile so they sneak in the bag far too often. Mini Cheddars, err always! Raisins can happily live at the bottom of a changing bag or handbag for a good few years and still come up trumps. Basically the more the merrier. Gotta love a snack.
3-A selection of small hardback books. I have two book worms. Give the girls the choice between a pile of books and any other toy and hands down the books will always win. They are also now of the age that they love to imittate us reading which we do a lot of and so they love to sit in the car or their buggy chatty away pretending to read each other books. Whats more, unlike some other things I don’t need to take twice as many just a small selection as they love to swap (or snatch depending on the mood).
Why the hardback? well when you’re mixing them with snacks, drinks and inevitably mucky fingers they are just so much easier to clean and are a bit more hardy to being lobbed across the car.
4-Packable waterproofs. So I’ve said about my need for preparation thing well there have been a few times in the past I’ve actually been caught short. Having left the house with the girls clothed for the sun, we’ve been mid park session and its turn near arctic on us. What has saved me every time have been the waterproofs. Of course they are not at all thick or winter proof but they break the wind and keep in a fair bit of warmth. That and the fact they bundle up really small means they take up minimal room but I’m ready come rain or shine.
5- Spare pairs of socks, for me and the girls. So imagine the girls delight when on holiday in Tenerife we came across an amazing soft play. But the one thing I hadn’t expected on a sunny holiday was to take the girl to a soft play. Like so many I’ve been to of course the lack of socks wasn’t a problem, you could purchase a pair. In this case, for the same price as the entrance you could be the proud owner of a pair of bright yellow, one size fits all, kid pop socks which were dispensed via a kinder egg contraption. They were the most ridiculous unnecessary purchase I’ve probably ever made. Well as soon as I got back I ensured anywhere I go I have three pairs of socks. Never again shall I be swindled out of fortunes by the humble sock!
Of course I wouldn’t say they are that my top 5 are the greatest essentials to any family holiday but I find time and time again they make for happy children and therefore one happy mummy!