“We’re going on vacation!” Most kids love hearing those words, but then the real work begins. As the parent, you have to make hotel reservations, order event tickets and pack everyone’s bags. Preparing for a vacation can be exhausting work, and that’s why you need your kids to help. Whether they’re toddlers or teenagers, they can pack their own bags and take responsibility for the clothing, toiletries and activities they want to do. Try four tips as you teach your kids to pack their own bags before your next vacation.
Buy Cute Bags
Your kids will enthusiastically pack bags they love, so use bags that are decorated with a favorite cartoon character or monogram. You’ll also want to make sure the bags you choose have enough room and are easy for your kids to handle.
Additionally, make sure your kids separate their stuff. Suitcases primarily store clothing while backpacks hold entertainment and a change of clothes, essentials for travel to your vacation destination.
Give Advance Warning
As you plan for vacation, talk to your kids about it. Discuss how long you’ll be staying, what you’ll be doing and what they might need. This warning gives your kids time to prepare mentally and start thinking about what they want to pack.
Make a List
It’s easy to leave a favorite toy or swimming suit behind, so help your kids make a list. Start with clothing. Walk them through each day and tell them to visual what they want to wear to the beach, amusement park or museum. They can write down the items they need to make each outfit and then cross off the items as they pack them. To simplify list-making, try asking questions like:
· “We are staying for three days, so how many pairs of undies and socks do you need?”
· “Our trip includes a sleepover. What will you need to prepare for bed?”
Next, pack toiletries. You can all share shampoo, but your kids may have calming bubble bath, special perfume and of course their own toothbrush they want to pack.
Finally, pack entertainment. It limits temper tantrums from the back seat. Just make sure the special blankie or doll, extra batteries and electronics chargers and a few rainy day activities like puzzles, coloring books and card games make it into the bags.
Your kids will make mistakes as they pack. Maybe your toddler forgets her favorite doll or your son leaves his retainer at home. Reassure your kids that mistakes happen. Remind them that they can learn from mistakes, and then offer support. Go buy another doll, give your son the week off from his retainer and suggest your kids ask you to double check their bag before the next vacation.
Teach your kids how to pack their own bags, and give them a lesson in responsibility. They learn how to care for themselves while ensuring they have the clothes, toiletries and entertainment they want. And, your vacation prep work load decreases so that everyone can look forward to a great time away together when you announce that it’s vacation time!