I am Some Packing Hacking Mum

Packing for holidays is something I’ve always been good at; enjoyed even.  I am the Queen of packing light, usually packing for both of us in one case.  I’ve been known to arrive in my brother’s in London with just a handbag. Essentials only.  I’m low maintenance when it comes to packing.  As long as I have my lenses, bank card and passport, I’m a “good to go” kind of gal.

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But that in the days BC; Before Children.  If we’re going away even for a night, more effort goes into packing for the girls to have a sleepover in Granny’s than into our own packing. Going on Staycations over the past few years, even minimal packing has filled the car to the brim.

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So going abroad for the first time with the two minions and limited luggage posed its own problems.  And yet, with some great tips from the Mammies on my blog, I managed to make our 4 x suitcase, 80Kg allowance into two suitcases of 39Kg. so rather than 4 big cases and carry-on bags, we had only 2 bags to lug around airports and a small handbag or backpack each.

So here are my top tips for packing for a family holibop.

  1. Plan and List: Yes I am a Listy McListerson. I made a list of everything we’d need; clothes, nappies, chargers, suncream etc.  I planned the outfits to bring for each of us for each day.  I then added 2 extra outfits for the girls because let’s face it, at some point there will be a spillage or a poonami or something.   I set the cases out and as I set things into the room where I was packing, I ticked them off the list. Anything that wasn’t on the list, didn’t go in the bags.

2. Ziplock bags: BEST IDEA EVER from a fellow JimMum. She told me to put everything in clear bags; swimwear, pjs, vests, undrewear etc.  I put each outfit for the girls into wee bags and wrote their initial on the front. I popped underwear/nappy into each bag too, so in the evening  when they were being showered, I simply reached for the bags and their full outfits were ready to go. No searching for things in cases. Easy.

3.Spread the love:  Pack a change of clothes and swimwear for everyone in one of the carryone bags. This way, if your room isn’t ready, you can still go to the pool without having to start rummaging through cases. Another tip I got, which made perfect sense was to spread everyone’s clothes between the cases so that if a case got lost or delayed, everyone still had clothes with them.

4. Snack packs: I don’t know about your Minions, but my two eat every 5 minutes. My sister advised me to do up little snack bags for the flights and also for the pool bag and while I initially laughed it off, I am so glad that I did.  For  less than €6, I filled 9 bags with their favourites; popcorn, haribo, raisins, breadsticks etc. And each day, they munched through these and we saved a fortune, only having to buy ice-creams and drinks.

5. Puzzlebooks and mermaid poo:  For a few euro in a Euro shop, I stocked up on colouring books and puzzlebooks, crayons and “Mermaid poo”  These went into my bag every evening and were produced after dinner, proving a great distraction when needed.

6. Downloads: Now, we don’t usually resort to screens outside of home unless we’re desperate for just 10 more minutes to finish a meal. But downloading episodes from Netflix is a must.  Firstly, for the last hour of the flight, where the colouring books are exhausted and secondly, after their shower in the evening to give Mammy and Daddy 20 minutes to get ready. A few episodes of Ben & Holly came in handy.

7. One big carry-on bag: While I had my handbag, and the girls had their backpacks, Him carried a small case.  On the way over, it was pretty empty apart from swimwear, but on the way home, we used it for all of the towels and checked it into the hold. It also meant that we had room for bits and pieces the girls had gathered up while away.

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8. Microfibre towels: This was my greatest hack ever. I picked these up half price in Mountain Warehouse and I’ll be going in to buy some more soon. I brought 2 big ones and one handsized one, and they dried us all for the full week. These things dry instantly and are light and fold up tiny.  So handy and so much lighter than packing loads of beach-towels.

9. Pillow cases: Pack two or three and use them for dirty washing throughout the holiday. Easy packing the night before you return home and easy unpacking when you get back. One of lights, one for colours etc.

10. Swim nappies: While you can get pretty much EVERYTHING you need where ever you are going, swim nappies cost a fortune abroad. I bought packs of 12 at £3 each in Strabane.  They were almost €8 for 3 nappies in the supermarket there.

11. An “incase” bag:  I took a wee bag with Calpol and Nurofen sachets, sachets of diaralyte and a blister of motilium and Imodium etc.  Apart from the plasters and one or two calpol, thankfully we didn’t need these, but if we had, they were in the apartment and we’d have been glad of not having to go searching for a pharmacy.

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12. A sound Splitter:  Probably not the correct name, but this wee thing was a Godsend on the flight. It allows 2 sets of headphones to be  used at once so the girls were able to watch a show together. It was €3 in Penneys.

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If you are packing or yet to pack for your holidays, I hope this helps and I’m not at all jealous…

It goes so quickly. Enjoy every second!  If you have any other hints or hacks, share them below.

And don’t forget to follow me on Bookface .

​I am Survival List Mum


“Surviving Christmas,” “Christmas Survival Tips for the Working Mum”, “How to Survive Christmas”…

I googled this last night.

Some of the “advice” online is nothing short of HILARIOUS.  I fear most of it may have been written by one of the following:

🎄Mary of the Poppins herself

🎄Someone without kids

🎄A Man… 😂😂😂
Here are some of the best pieces I gleaned, followed by my honest and polite response: Buckle up Bitcheepoos…😙😉
1.  “Be Prepared.”

No shit Sherlock.  As opposed to waking on Christmas Eve and remembering to buy a turkey and gifts? Seriously…
2. “Buy gifts throughout the year and wrap them as you go.”

Now this one I can partially agree with, except S-Mum’s would read “Buy gifts throughout the year, put them somewhere safe and then forget all about them until the week before Christmas, when you have all the gifts bought and then open a box or bag or suitcase and find all the PawPatrol jigsaws you bought in July.  Or even better, find them when you’re putting the decorations away in January!”
3. “Choose a theme for your gifts to add that personal magic”.

Here’s a theme.  Shut the fuck up.  Most of us just about manage to buy for everyone we have to buy for.  And if you’re anything like me, you’ll remember someone on Christmas Day and freak out with guilt and embarrassment and mumble some crap about it not being delivered on time before popping to the loo to order on Amazon with next day delivery. (But if you doooooo want to add a personal touch and be remembered fondly by your loved ones, put glitter🦄 into all of the cards and gifts so that their floors get clattered and you are applauded for spreading the magic of Christmas. Go ahead, I dare you! 😂😂)
4. “Place delicate or expensive ornaments on higher branches.”

Ok this one, I can empathise with.  Especially if you have toddlers or dogs. 🐶But in reality, put delicate or expensive decorations in the ATTIC and leave them there until 2023.
5. “Ice the Christmas Cake 2 weeks before Christmas”

Or in real life, remember on the 23rd that for some reason you need a Christmas cake and either pop to M&Spensive or decide not to bother with cake this year. Either way, it doesn’t really matter does it?
6. “Decorating the home should be a family occasion followed by a family meal.”

Oh really? Should it really? If by “family meal” you mean a bottle of wine after the kids have all gone to bed, then yes…yes this is true. 😅 Decorating the home is, for most, a painful and highly stressful process which generally takes more than one afternoon and involves tears, mess and even declarations of divorcing children and husbands.  If you can get the actua tree up in one go, save yourself the stress and put everything else up by yourself, on your own, without the rest of the family annoying your head.  After bedtime is ideal.😘😉
7. “Keep alcohol locked away.”

Out of the reach of children yes, but keep the key in your frilly fecking apron.
8. “Stock up on essentials:  batteries, bread, milk and cream.”

Why there is no gin or wine on this list, is beyond me.
9. “Go Christmas Shopping without children. Bring a drink and a snack with you.”

Who the hell wrote this?  If you can get someone to mind the minions for an hour, OF COURSE, go Christmas shopping without them. Have a gin and eat chocolate.
10. “Create a cleaning schedule for your home to keep on top of things this Christmas”.

There aren’t enough swear words for this one. A Cleaning Schedule? Who the hell has time to write a cleaning schedule? In the time it would take me to write a cleaning schedule, I would probably have half the cleaning done.  If you can keep floors lego free and counters salmonella free, you’re doing great! You deserve a treat. 💚
There were a few little nuggets in fairness.  Some of the better advice included “Scale down your expectations”, “Invent your own traditions”, and “Give yourself a break.”

Another gem that I completely agree with is “Buy disposable baking trays”: I stock up on aluminium turkey trays every year and everything is cooked in them.  It’s a life saver!


The lists and articles largely did what they always do however; put undue pressure on already busy parents to stress themselves to create a picture perfect Christmas card-esque scene that in reality, is nonsense.

Do what YOU want to do.  Buy what YOU can afford.  Cook what YOU like to eat. If you don’t like mince pies, don’t fricken buy them. If you want to let your kids open all of the presents on Christmas morning, do it!  If you like to wrap all the everything, do so.  If you don’t, DON’T!

It’s that simple.  We don’t need a survival list to survive Christmas, we need to give ourselves a break and enjoy it, because if you take a second to stop and look around you, often in the midst of lost presents and superfluous food shopping, you can see a little bit of magic without having to buy it.
What is your favourite “Survival tip” and why?