Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Packing with kids

We recently traveled to Florida to see my in-laws while they're hibernating there for the Kansas winter. While I was excited to leave, it also required me to pack my newly 4-person family for a 5-day stay and a plane ride.
The last time I flew with my daughter, she was 9 months old. I had researched relentlessly and eventually just realized that shit was going to hit the fan regardless of how prepared I thought I was, so it was best to just let go, drink a beer and call it a day.
Now with two kids I was even more terrified. A toddler and an infant on a plane? Somebody get me a Xanax.
So I thought I would write a post about packing for a toddler and an infant in case you wanted advice. Or are entertained by other people's disastrous vacation experiences.

1. First Step: Put the kids to sleep

I cannot stress this enough: packing and kids do not mix. Toddlers love unpacking the shit you just packed MUCH MORE than you hate unpacking the shit when you get home from vacation. 
Go ahead and try the whole, "why don't you help mommy pack?!" approach with the hopes that it will be a fun bonding activity. I dare you. It does not work. 
Save yourself the aggravation and gather it all in one area, lock the door, and throw away the key until they're in bed. 

2. Don't even bother with the house
If you think to yourself, "I'd love to leave the house shiny and clean so I don't have to dick with it when I get back!" think again, my friend.
Because while you're busy trying to get the laundry done and finding the bottom of the sink filled with last night's dishes, your toddler is in the other room playing out her very own special version of Armageddon with the toy box.

This is their golden hour. They've spent the last two years preparing for this moment. Nothing can stop them now.

Put the dishes in the dishwasher to prevent weird smells when you return, finish the laundry so you don't have to walk around nude on the beach, and hope that the cats will get hungry enough to eat all of their own hair off the floor.

3. Speaking of cats...
If you're a cat-owner, you know this struggle.
The exact second that you bring a new piece of...well, anything out from a room they're not allowed in, they will immediately sit on it.
I don't care if it's a couch made of daggers. Those assholes will make themselves comfortable.
Don't leave anything on the floor unless you don't care that it's covered in cat hair.

4. Charge yo goods
For the love of God, do not get on the airplane only to find that you haven't charged the iPad. Or laptop. Or whatever you use. Nothing induces panic more than that moment you are trying to figure out what the Hell you're going to do to entertain a toddler for 3 hours in two cubic feet of space without technology.
Don't be that guy.

Alright, now on to the actual packing.

5. Pack all of the things.
-Car Seats: My in-laws drove down so they brought Addi's car seat [God bless them], pack and play and even bought a crib. All we had to bring was Will's seat. My sister let us use her car seat bag and we checked it with our big suitcases. I cannot recommend this enough. His seat handle [the Keyfit 30] did get a little banged up, but all of the Styrofoam was in tact [I took the covers off to check] and not cracked so I call it a success. There were a lot of people who checked their seats without bags and they came out looking gross. Of course they could've been gross before the trip across country but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.
Also, be prepared to sit and wait in terror at the luggage carousel until the very last bag comes up because they send all of the seats last [in Orlando they actually had it at a different carousel].

-Carry on's: We had about 90 4 carry-on's, which didn't include the umbrella stroller we gate checked.
Matt carried my computer bag with the laptop [I had work to do remotely while I was there], my camera [I don't check it because they don't exactly know the meaning of "fragile"], the iPad, spare diapers/wipes, a few snacks and coloring supplies.
I carried the diaper bag that was equipped with as much shit as you can imagine. I'm talking hoarder levels. Many people, including my mom, were entertained by the amount of crap I had out trying to entertain our 2 year old.
Among the thousands of items: 

  • 4 diapers for each kid
  • wipes
  • hand sanitizer [airports..gross]
  • books [new ones Addi got for Christmas and had never read]
  • changing pad
  • snacks..lots of snacks
  • more wipes
  • a few more "new" toys [I went downstairs and gathered up a bunch of them she never plays with anymore]
  • spare bottle/formula
  • spare paci
  • take & toss cups
  • Will's reflux meds [in case luggage got lost], infant tylenol & kid's ibuprofen

Addi got an awesome bag from her Aunt for Christmas which I packed full of toys that she had either forgotten about or were her favorites. I also bought her this adorable pair of headphones for the iPad on the plane that she used for approximately seven seconds. Money well spent, folks. [Side note: she also refused to carry her bag. We are slaves to a toddler.] Don't forget their favorite blanket & stuffed animal!

-Checked Bags:
I packed one large suitcase for the kids and one for Matt & I. As always, I over-packed, but I'd rather have too much than too little. My in-laws' house down there has a super nice washer and dryer, which I utilized a lot, and I only came home with a few pieces of dirty laundry!
A mother's dream...doing laundry on vacation.

Anyway, in the kid's bag I packed everything...diapers, sheets, blankets, clothes, bottles, formula, sippy cups, and all of Addi's extra crap that she brings to bed [which includes, her baby, bunny deer, two more lovies and about 33 other items]. I packed one extra pair of shoes for Addi and an extra pair of pj's for both, just in case. I knew we would have a washer/dryer in the event of a poop-tastrophe so I didn't go overboard on their clothes.

For Matt and I, I packed the usual plus anything that didn't fit into Addi & Will's suitcase. Our flight left at 7:10 am which meant leaving at the asscrack of dawn, so we stayed at a hotel the night before. This meant two extra overnight bags to prevent digging through our suitcases in the morning. We also had to bring two pack and plays for the hotel, but it beat bringing them through the airport too so I didn't mind a bit.

Overall the experience wasn't terrible, despite the low bar I had set for it [packing, not the trip. The trip was awesome.]. And I did manage to leave the house somewhat picked up, so I considered that a win-win. We also left before I had planned, which was a mind-blowing experience that will probably never happen again.

The airport and plane ride were a whole other experience that requires at least one other blog post so I might get to that in the next year or so [I jest].

If you're traveling with kids soon, God Speed. I'll drink a beer for you [or two].

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