Today will be stressful – packing for the family holiday. If you’re a mother, you will know what I mean. If you’re male (not being sexist or anything), read on…

There is oceans of washing to do. It seems a bad idea to leave dirty clothes to fester in the laundry basket, plus there is all the bedding. I don’t like the idea of returning after two weeks away to sheets that have been slept/sweated/dribbled in for a week and then locked into a room to ferment. Obviously I cannot wash it all the day we leave, but it feels better if it’s washed the day before – so just one night of body fluids sweated into them.

Then there is the animal stuff. Dog and grumpy-cat taken to kennels, their bedding and towels left here. I can leave them – and be welcomed home by the thick odour a la dog, or I can wash them before I go. Thank goodness for washing machines and please can mine not break today. Of course, not everyone has this problem. I have known people (not female) who quite cheerfully shove dirty clothes into a bag before a holiday; and then return with the same bag of dirty clothes at the end. I am not entirely sure if they were worn, or washed, in between, because I didn’t like to ask.

I have to pack. Always stressful. You assemble everything you need, the case is full, and you haven’t even thought about clothes yet. There’s the stuff in case someone cuts themselves, or has a headache, or is sick. The shampoo you’ll never find abroad, the sun hat, sun lotion, sandals, plus hygiene stuff, a book, rechargers (because these magically disappear and people always need to borrow them) swimming goggles (which I never wear, but again, they disppear into the black hole of “I wasn’t the last person to have them…”), etc. And even supposing you find room for clothes, which ones do you take? Will the food be good and the weather lazy, so you need clothes you can expand into? Or will you spend the time enjoying the hotel gym and pool and eating salads, so you can pack the slightly-too-tight-but-fitted-last-year clothes? Then Husband weighs the case (why? Why do men do this? It can wait until check-in and be sorted out then if necessary) followed by ever so slightly tense conversation about the necessity of carrying certain items.

At least now I don’t have to pack for the children. That was always a nightmare. I had things sorted when we lived in the US, travelling back and forth with a 2, 4 and 6 year old, often on my own. Each child carried a small back-pack containing a complete set of their own clothes and an empty ice-cream container. You only ever carry a vomit covered child off a plane once before you plan things a bit better. Of course, sometimes it went wrong. Like the time Son 2 couldn’t decide what to pack and proudly tipped up his bag on holiday to empty out one of each piece of toy/puzzle/game that he owned. Just one piece. Or the year Son 1 packed his football. Just his football. And every year, although not having room for clothes, there does seem to be a disturbing number of inflatable animals in the pool with us. (They are all in their twenties now, and this is still true. Other families at the pool don’t do this. Just saying.)

Then there is the house. Sinks need to be bleached or they stink when you get home. But some oink always tips their unfinished coffee into the sink just before you leave. And surfaces need to be wiped and crockery washed and bins emptied. And always, after you have done that, someone will use something and make them all dirty again. And you can’t do it too early, because the family has to eat. They expect, amidst all this frenzy of cleaning, for a meal to appear. Which creates another whole lot of mess to be cleaned up. So you feel like you are stuck in a loop of cleaning, washing, wiping while everyone else is going round making it all dirty again. And no one cares, they cannot understand why it makes a difference to return home to a clean house, not a dirty stinky one, when within minutes of arriving it will get messed up again. But it does. If you are female you will know this – having a pristine house while no one is in it is extremely important. Otherwise burglars might think you are tardy.

I haven’t even started on the outside animals yet. Buying copious amounts of food so they can be fed in my absence, cleaning them out so kind pet-feeding person doesn’t think I’m slack for not keeping them properly clean. Clearing up all the stuff I ignore when I’m there, but looks unsightly when I notice it. Ensuring fences are secure and bedding has fresh hay. It all takes time.

So, I had better stop writing and make a start. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we’re flying to Munich tomorrow. Last summer the boys inter-railed around Europe, and were keen the family should repeat some of it this year. They travelled on a budget, and I’m thinking that a €6 per night including breakfast hostel is not going to suit me – so we’re staying in slightly different places. But the plan is to hire a car, drive through Austria, Slovenia, to Croatia, then fly home from Venice. There are seven of us going, I will let you know how we get on, but I’m sure it will be wonderful. I shall do nothing but follow round Husband-with-a-plan, while laughing at my family’s jokes and writing rude things about them on my blog.

Thanks for reading.
Take care,

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