I like to think of myself as very organized and detail oriented. And I am. It helps me to sew and knit and keep track of where every penny I spend goes. I like to make detailed plans and follow them. Paying attention to the little things, the piddly little things, is what I’m good at. I can focus very well on a task that is directly in front of me.
What I’m not so good at is keeping on task when I’m packing for outings. When a job requires me to walk around and gather objects I nearly always fail at it. Unless I assemble a list of everything I need well in advance of a family trip I’m toast. I know this because I go on regular outings with my kids, I have no list, and I always forget something important.
For example, when we went to Spanish Banks I brought hot dogs, and even scissors to open the hot dogs. I had changes of clothes for the kids and two bottles of sunscreen because one was getting low. But I forgot dishes of any kind. Luckily someone gave me a couple of napkins and let me borrow a plate.
It’s just the way I roll. We’ll end up at the park with 3 individual water bottles and toys to play with but no food. Or I’ll remember everyone’s hats but forget the camera. Meanwhile, the other moms are pulling out their bags of snacks and their beach toys and loaning my kid a spare pair of flip-flops. I am reduced to accepting playground charity because without it we would have to go home and my children would cry.
I realize exactly what the problem is. I am very easily distracted. I’ve always been this way but it wasn’t a problem when it was just me. I don’t require gear like my kids require gear. So I find myself trying to accumulate gear and then I wander off course. This is how it goes inside my head:
“OK, I need to pack for the park. I should go get diapers. Oh, but first I’ll just grab Hannah’s socks. What is that book doing there? Let’s put it away. What was I here for? Um…we’re going to the park. I’d better make sure everyone visits the bathroom first. Oh, and I should probably check my email…”
I spend 15 or 20 minutes packing and I mostly get the job done but not completely. Before I leave the house I run through what I need and pat myself on the back because I packed all the buckets and shovels. I am clearly On Top of It. Only not, because what I did was put the buckets and shovels in a bag that was left on the stairs.
Please, please, please tell me I’m not the only incurable scatterbrain. Or share your strategies for remembering everything you need when traveling with kids. I need help, and I will take it anywhere I can get it.