Plan to pick the kids up from school. Whenever we've waited for them to get home on the bus, either the bus runs late (Murphy's Law) or they come home and remember something else they want to take and need a snack, etc. etc. and it's another hour before we get out the door. If you have to let them ride the bus or carpool - meet them outside, car packed and ready to go.
Get the kids to pack their own stuff. Their books, gadgets, dolls, cards, favorite goggles. Pack it in their own backpack the night before you leave and have it ready to go. Remember - don't let them back in the house after school.
Pack snacks. If you've read this blog ever before, you may know this might as well be my mantra - always pack snacks. Keep the natives fed and happy. If it's a holiday weekend, you very well may get stuck in traffic and it will be nowhere near the exit to get some food. Be ready.
Bring entertainment for the car. Phones, DS's, or books on tape - whatever works best for your family. I think those hours in the car are perfect for family interaction - games, sing-alongs, singing contests. I have a crochet or knit project or a book for myself (when I'm not the driver.) And I always make a run to the library for audio books. Maybe you prefer the quietness of everyone on their e-gadgets or the peace of the kids watching a movie. Anything but "stop looking at me!"
Clean up the house before you go. Including the refrigerator. What a nice feeling to come home from a fun weekend and be able to sit down without dreading the chores that need to be done from last week. Prepare to extend that relaxed feeling for a little while when you get home.
So the key here? Plan a little bit and be ready. And even if you're a procrastinator like me, you can still pull it together.
And one more tip for while you're gone. When you pack up to return home, put all your dirty clothes in one suitcase, all your clean and unworn clothes in another. Then when you get home, you can easily toss the dirty clothes in the washing machine. Or take it all to the laundromat, throw it in multiple machines at once and get your laundry done in much less time.
Drive safely & have fun!
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