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Packing proficiency decreases when you have kids

I used to consider myself a champion packer. I once took an overnight trip to New York City and didn’t even take a duffel bag – I carried a big purse with an inside pocket, into which I crammed a second shirt and change of underwear, and re-wore my jeans and shoes from the first day. 

My minimalist strategy usually worked. I packed neutral-colored bottoms and a few tops that would go with anything for a variety of combinations. I couldn’t resist extra underwear because you never know if you’ll get stuck somewhere, especially when flying, but other than that, I could usually pack as little as possible. 

But then … I had kids.

Sophie was born when we lived outside of Scranton, which was three hours from my parents in Chambersburg and three-and-a-half from my husband’s parents outside Baltimore. That meant family visits couldn’t just be day trips. That, of course, meant the pack-and-play and the Boppy and possibly even the stroller and several baby blankets, among other accoutrements. Not to mention the already-jammed-full baby bag that accompanied me any time I left the house.

This is where my minimalist packing strategies broke down in terms of clothes. I’d pack umpteen onesies because what if she spit up (or worse) on her clothes? She needed short-sleeved and long-sleeved outfits because what if she got too hot or too cold? I’d probably better throw in a dressier outfit, especially if we’re there over Sunday or for some sort of event – oh, and better pack a second one just in case of any aforementioned catastrophes. (Also, I’d probably better pack a few extra things for myself in case any incidents were … ahem … projectile.)

And diapers. Lots of diapers. My mom always kept a stash of baby necessities on hand but if we were going anywhere else, I’d bring half the bathroom with me.

I discovered last week that, even after surviving babyhood travels with Sophie and now Annabelle, I still have the same mindset when packing. We went to Kalahari Resorts in the Poconos with my parents and sister and, while I managed to get clothes and toiletries for all four Deinleins into one very large suitcase, it was a squeeze. In addition to swimwear, we needed outfits for each day après swim, and it wasn’t supposed to be super hot, so I made sure to toss in some things with long sleeves in case all the water fun made us chilly, and of course my “you never know what may happen” theory still applied in terms of carrying extra underwear. 

My overpacking did pay off, for once. We also planned to drive up to Scranton, since we were only about 30 minutes away, and spend an extra day showing Sophie her native city – we left when she was about a year old, so she doesn’t remember anything about it – and to visit Steamtown National Historic Site, because she and Annabelle are both train buffs (and we got another stamp in our National Parks Passport)! 

Well, we had so much fun on the first day in Scranton, we spontaneously decided to stay a second night and see a few more sights! So that extra underwear came in handy.

Do I think it’s time to try to get back to paring down my packing, though? Yes. In fact, once I finish writing this blog, I’m going to get us all packed for an overnight trip.

This time, everything is going in one duffel bag, I swear.

But there will probably be extra underwear. You just never know.

Do you relate to overpacking with kids? I’d love to hear your strategies! Drop me an email at [email protected].

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