Am I packing for a family vacation or moving cross-country?

It’s not uncommon and certainly not wrong to look back on your days, pre-children, and remember them fondly. More recently, I did this as I was practically playing the world’s worst game of Tetris trying to fit the boatloads of things needed for our week-long vacation in the back of our Honda CR-V.

Remember when you wanted to make a little getaway and it was just you and your bag?  How whimsical it was just to throw a few outfits in a weekender and take off. I’d imagine a family of deer came to the window while birds daintily dropped a pair of yoga pants into your duffel as you zipped it up, threw it over your shoulder and bounced out the door without a care in the world.

With kids?  It doesn’t matter if you’re going overnight to your parents or going to outer-freaking-space. The ease of packing a single bag is gone. The reason Elon Musk was able to send that sporty Tesla roadster into space?  It’s because Starman was single and kid-free.

Toss in a Starwife and a couple Starkids and you have a minivan hurtling through space, bursting at the seams with playpens and diapers and bottles and twice as many outfits as there are days you’ll be away.  And if you listen closely as you look to the sky hoping to see it pass overhead, you might hear the faint melody of “Baby Shark” over the wails of a toddler who wants to take off his shoes and an exhausted mother sighing as she sinks her head into her hands.

The fun thing is, even after all that packing, you’ll still get caught needing something you left at home at some point on vacation. For me, it was my two children coming down with colds three days in.No humidifier or Zarbees here, baby. Just two little ones with noses running like faucets and my mother-in-law running to the closest pharmacy to pick up a bulb syringe and Vick’s.

Each trip with children is a learning experience, revising and re-revising my packing list for the future based on what we brought and didn’t use or didn’t bring and ended up rushing out to get.

One day I hope to have it down to an exact science, and that’ll be the day the airline loses my luggage.

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