Remember when we used to be able to pack for our kids without any back talk! Well, those days are long gone for me with my 12 ½ year old. But here are some tricks I use to guide the packing process! And I have a son, this may not transfer perfectly for a daughter.
1. Control the Choices: If we are leaving for a five-day trip, I show him 10 shirts. 10 shirts that I picked out, for him to choose five. This way I will have no problem with "his" choices! That's how I accomplished this matching shirt scenario:
2. Anticipatory Shopping: My tween son is growing like a weed, as the expression goes. Any seasonal items have to be checked for size fit. If we are heading to a Disney Park in May, he has probably not worn any Summer clothes for eight months, and eight months at this age is more than enough time for him to require the next size. Or two! Don't wait until you are putting on a bathing suit in your hotel room to realize it doesn't fit!
3. Sunscreen: Until a year ago my son wore swim shirts when he went swimming. He is way too cool for that now! Without a swim shirt, I need triple the supply of sunscreen for him to apply whenever we stop at the outdoor pool. My baby still needs protection from the sun!
4. Homework: My son gets homework in at least two classes every vacation break except for Summer vacation, plus additional reading. Teachers do not care if I have a conference at Walt Disney World, they only want the vacation homework handed in on time. There is a lot of planning and negotiating that needs to happen if we are going to enjoy our vacation and get the homework done. We have to utilize airplane time so that he is not leaving Space Mountain to do a few math sheets.
5. The Cell Phone: I could win the phone battle, but lose the war (i.e., have a miserable vacation with a miserable kid), so I suggest that we parents think through how we are going to handle cell phone use during vacations. Again, I try to negotiate everything before the trip, sort of a verbal contract if you will, that will hold up in a court of my peers! I ask him not to view YouTube and Vine videos while we are away. I ask him not to use his game apps. He must communicate with us when we are on vacation, no matter how painful that is. One trick is to encourage him to use his phone to take pictures. I tell him I need his picture taking help, and his ego eats that up: what kid doesn't want to "one up" their parent and take better pictures than them! And I need those pictures to be of our meals, this means we can discuss the food pictures and I can hopefully keep him away from his phone between courses! Sure you can text your friends and post on Instagram, just please not every minute. A delicate balance is possible, and planning how this is going to work before we leave home keeps fighting to a minimum.
I am not a perfect parent. We may need an emergency Amazon order with a bathing suit, shirt and sunscreen to be sent to our hotel. I may have to wait at the hotel for my friend to fax homework that we forgot if our trip has us returning the night before school starts up again. And he may spend more time than I am happy with scrolling through iFunny pictures on his phone. But if he shows me the funnier ones, at least we are bonding over that!
And if all else fails, bribe your kid with the Kitchen Sink ice cream!