Packing Light

I’m in Kentucky with the kids for a week-long visit with my parents. We had to leave Bob behind this trip and since this was the first time I have made the drive to Louisville from our new house, I was worried it would be treacherous on my own with three young children. However, a strategic early departure, some well-timed movies on the Kindle and a couple of naps worked in our favor and we made the trek in nine hours.

I’ve kept a page in my planner for several years titled, “Packing Checklist.” Overwhelmed with the task of traveling with a young baby Henry, I can remember making a detailed list of everything I would need to shove into our Subaru to ensure we forgot nothing. Because when you’re a first time parent and it’s 1:30 in the morning and you’re trying to get a six-month-old to sleep in a pack and play in a Hampton Inn 500 miles from home, YOU BETTER HAVE ENOUGH PACIFIERS!

Every trip our family has taken since, I have run down that list prior to departure, checking items off as they get packed.

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And, every trip since, that list has shrunk a little bit as I erase items that Millie, our youngest, no longer needs.

It started when we were done with bottles for good. No more bottles, bottle liners, formula and burp rags. Soon, Millie outgrew baby food so we could shed all of the baby food jars, baby-specific snacks, special spoons, bibs and booster seat. Once two of our three children were fully potty-trained, the quantity of diapers packed decreased by 1,000 percent. (Incredibly, I can remember one trip where I packed about six different types of diapers between regular diapers, pull-ups, swim diapers and nighttime diapers all in various sizes.) Over time, we’ve stopped needing special baby shampoo or toddler toothpaste and Millie has made the bridge from infant medications to the standard children’s variety so all of the kid toiletries have decreased dramatically, too.

This trip, the pack and play got removed from the list. Millie sleeps in a regular bed now, just like a grown human and everything! She still has a favorite blanket and stuffed animal but I no longer need to remember the portable bed, the sheet for the portable bed, the blankets that provide a better cushion for the portable bed, and on and on.

It struck me, as I prepared for our journey to Kentucky this week, that the list now has a fraction of the number of items it used to have. I am amazed that I am only one potty-trained kid away from no longer needing a diaper bag when we go just about anywhere. I feel like I’ve been waiting for things to get easier forever and very slowly, one item at a time, everything has just gotten so much easier. This is kind of blowing my mind.

I look forward to the road trip we’ll take one day, not too far off in the future now, when I can throw three backpacks at my three kids and tell them to pack themselves. Can you even imagine?

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