I'm not a meticulous mum. I'm not brilliantly organized and I don't always have an immaculate house, car or diaper bag. I wish I was, but I'm not. So when it comes to vacations or day trips, I'm the one bolting around the house at the last minute, grabbing things that look vaguely useful and lobbing them into my over sized diaper bag.
But, this week on our Staycation, I was forced to revise my habits and become an organized mother. Not easy for me. But for the sake of retaining some sense of composure on our daily outings, some organizing was necessary.
I learned a few good tricks this week:
Separating my stuff saved me from near hysteria: At the start of the week I was cramming everything into one bag: toys, diapers, crackers - you name it, it was all in there mingling together. When one child or other was on the verge and in dire need of a bottle or a snack, all I could find was a jumbled mess. I might have uttered the words "I can't find a thing in this bloody bag" about, oh, a thousand times. Then I had a wonderful idea: separate my stuff into different bags - one for spare clothes, shoes and diapers, one for food and drink, one for everything else. Hey presto, flapping and fussing in the middle of the street averted.
I started a nightly cleansing ritual: Really, who wants to clean anything at the end of a ridiculously long day with overtired, cranky kids? Me! Me! Not really me, but because we planned to head out early every morning, we had to prepare things the night before. That meant cleaning out the diaper bag and repacking it. It saved me a headache the next morning as I was trying to get people fed, clothed and ready to go.
Don't forget the car: I'd like to tell you I straightened out my car after each trip this week and that the next morning we returned to a fresh, clean interior that didn't smell like stale apples. But alas, instead of cleaning out the car, I was passed out on the sofa with a bottle of wine in one hand and a box of chocolates in the other attempting recovery. And because no one cleaned out the car after each excursion, what resulted was possibly the largest amount of crap in a car you've ever set eyes on. No exaggeration. After a week of outings, I spent almost a whole hour yesterday, stooped awkwardly over every crevice of our car's interior, pulling out random objects and organizing them into sacks: one for garbage, one for keepers. I thought about photographing the mayhem for your amusement but the humiliation might have killed me.
I went armed with games: Every time I heard the start of a small whine or groan from the back of the car, I was fast as a fox with an "I know! Let's see how many cows we can see at the side of the road!" or an "I spy with my little eye...". The key is the enthusiasm. There must be enthusiasm. Of course this strategy only really works for the first hour, after that no one in their right mind has the energy to keep up these charades. So after my energy was depleted, there were sticker book, toys and lots of food.
I opened my arms to sugar and fat, large amounts of: One thing I discovered about myself this week is that I'm prepared to do practically anything to make life easy on a day trip. On our way out to the beach on Friday I stopped off at the store and picked up croissants, cookies, chips, juice, pop, muffins and other sugary / fatty morsels of goodness. These foods were used intermittently throughout the day as bribes and distractions. Genius. Apart from the extra calories I ended up consuming. Bugger.
Lastly and importantly, get the booze ready: When we arrived home each night, after dinner, bath and bedtime were done, there was nothing more healing than a glass of wine. I vowed, after this week, to always stock up for such moments.