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Vacation Organization

 

Yes, I even organize my relaxation time! I am that neurotic. Really. Just ask my husband, who’s been trying to get me to relax for years. But, even homeschooling families need a vacation.

Seriously, organization is the pathway to real relaxation. Once the details are in place, then I don’t have to worry about them and I can be at ease. I’m not running around trying to find sun block or hats or beach towels. I’m not stressed about where we’re headed or how to get there; it’s already worked out. Snacks? No problem. Car activities? Right in that bag. (Better yet, get your kids to pack their own small traveling bags with quiet games, books, i-pods, and stuffed animals.)

What’s my secret? Lists. When something pops into my head, I write it on the appropriate list. I usually have several lists running concurrently for different purposes. By spending a little bit of effort ahead of time writing lists, I can avoid the frustration of forgetting important items. The vacation list can be started at any time—the earlier the better. When I’m ready to pack for a trip, out comes my list. I check things off as they are packed. This method also allows me to pack more quickly since I’m not wasting time trying to remember what else needs to be brought. A plethora of websites offer free packing lists for various types of trips and travelers. Here are a few of my favorites:

http://honeymoons.about.com/cs/travelplanner/a/Packing_List.htm
http://www.flylady.net/pages/FLYingLessons_PackingList.asp
http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art29190.asp

Another detail that I like to organize ahead of time is the itinerary. Two to four weeks before our departure date, I go online to map out the roads we’ll be taking. Often, I check several mapping Web sites as well as a regular road atlas to make sure that we’re going the most direct and the most easy route. I print out the directions and map and store them in a desk drawer or with a pile of stuff already slated to go on the trip. I also spend time looking for and planning activities at our chosen destination. I look at the costs, additional travel time required, and educational values. While this may seem restrictive to some people, it’s really not. It gives us choices of many activities that we could possibly do. We don’t do everything I’ve planned and sometimes we do things I didn’t plan, but at least we’ve got a starting point. Since travel time is excellent reading time, I often bring material regarding the places we’ll be visiting. This helps my kids to get an introduction to and historical background on what they’ll be seeing and it’s a great way to get kids excited about unknown places.

One last tip for organizing a vacation: start early. I usually start putting things in a neat pile in the guest room (or my room) a week or two before our planned vacation dates. I do this as I remember things that aren’t on my original list or as I look at my list and see things that could be set aside ahead of time. This photo is of the pile that I’ve accumulated in our guest room for last year’s shore trip.

Of course, there will be quite a few items that can’t be packed until the day or two prior to leaving, but the more that’s done ahead of time, the less stressed I am the day before. Just in case you didn’t catch it, I never wait until the morning of a scheduled departure to drag out the suitcases!

Happy trails!

Bethany

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From Vacation to Field Trip in the Blink of an Eye

Doesn’t everyone need a real vacation away from the books, jobs, phones, emails, and the neighbor’s dog barking at 3:00 a.m.? Well, sure, but the real question is, do your kids need a vacation away from learning? The answer to that question is a resounding no! Do they have to realize that they’re learning? Well, no again.

My article “Turn Any Vacation into a Field Trip” is posted on Heart of the Matter today. Go check out slew of sneaky ideas to make a learning opportunity out of any trip. Your kids will be having so much fun that they won’t even notice that they’re learning. Promise!

In a few weeks, our family will be putting these principles to the test as we visit Washington, D.C. Leave me a note letting me know where you’re going (or have gone) on vacation and how you plan to turn your days into learning opportunities for your kids.

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Yes, I do!


Organize my vacations, that is. Doesn’t everyone? No? Well, do you want to learn how you can really relax while you’re on vacation? Read my latest article over at Heart of the Matter Online to find out. It’s not nearly as painful as it sounds, I promise! Leave me a note & let me know how you’re going to organize your family’s vacation this year!

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Re-Entry

I’m baaack! Yes, the suitcases are put away; yes, the dirty clothes are all washed; yes, the sand pails and towels are cleaned up and stored. The pictures are even off my camera and onto the computer. What?! Already?! Yep. How?

Day one: unpack all suitcases to either hampers or drawers, as appropriate; put suitcases away; empty coolers and food bags. Day two: store coolers in shed and start laundry, make menu and grocery lists. Day three: continue laundry, go grocery shopping, clean and store beach toys, mats, umbrellas, etc. Day four: finish extra laundry, transfer pictures, make sure kids have finished unpacking and putting away items from their car/toy/book bags. Day five: sort pictures for printing and upload to internet, make lists for coming week. Done!

Next project: have my kids produce something that looks educational from our vacation. We went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and spent most of our time playing in the ocean and sunning ourselves on the beach. Doesn’t sound very educational, does it? But, do you know the composition of sand? Do you know why there are tides? Neither did we, until we visited the Cape Hatteras National Park. Everyone has heard of the famous pirate named Blackbeard, but did you know that there were also some women who were pirates? Again, neither did we, until we sat through an interesting ranger talk. My youngest daughter earned a Junior Park Ranger badge and patch by completing an educational packet. We can also write short essays, make photo scrapbooks with journaling, draw pictures with captions, or make lap books to show what we learned. Of course, I didn’t breathe a word about “school” while we were on vacation, but that doesn’t mean that learning didn’t happen or that it can’t be recorded. And that is the beauty of homeschooling.

So, with a bit of planning and effort you can have a well-organized house after your vacations as well as before it. I say that it’s an effort because I recognize that it would feel easier (for a while) to dump all the suitcases and sand pails on the living floor for a few weeks; however, the sooner things are back to normal, the better you’ll feel, trust me!

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Organized Relaxation? Yes, You Can Organize Your Vacation!

Yes, I even organize my relaxation time! I am that neurotic. Really. Just ask my husband, who’s been trying to get me to relax for years. But even homeschooling families need a vacation.

Seriously, organization is the pathway to real relaxation. Once the details are in place, then I don’t have to worry about them and I can be at ease. I’m not running around trying to find sun block or hats or beach towels. I’m not stressed about where we’re headed or how to get there; it’s already worked out. Snacks? No problem. Car activities? Right in that bag. (Better yet, get your kids to pack their own small traveling bags with quiet games, books, and stuffed animals.)

What’s my secret? Lists. When something pops into my head, I write it on the appropriate list. I usually have several lists running concurrently for different purposes. By spending a little bit of effort ahead of time writing lists, I can avoid the frustration of forgetting important items. The vacation list can be started at any time – the earlier the better. When I’m ready to pack for a trip, out comes my list. I check things off as they are packed. This method also allows me to pack more quickly since I’m not wasting time trying to remember what else needs to be brought. A plethora of websites offer free packing lists for various types of trips and travelers. Here are a few of my favorites: http://honeymoons.about.com/cs/travelplanner/a/Packing_List.htm, http://www.flylady.net/pages/FLYingLessons_PackingList.asp, http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art29190.asp.

Another detail that I like to organize ahead of time is the itinerary. Two to four weeks before our departure date, I go online to map out the roads we’ll be taking. Often, I check several mapping websites as well as a regular road atlas to make sure that we’re going the most direct and the most easy route. I print out the directions and map and store them in a desk drawer or with a pile of stuff already slated to go on the trip. I also spend time looking for and planning activities at our chosen destination. I look at the costs, additional travel time required, and educational values. While this may seem restrictive to some people, it’s really not. It gives us choices of many activities that we could possibly do. We don’t do everything I’ve planned and sometimes we do things I didn’t plan, but at least we’ve got a starting point. Since travel time is excellent reading time, I often bring material regarding the places we’ll be visiting. This helps my kids to get an introduction to and historical background on what they’ll be seeing and it’s a great way to get kids excited about unknown places.

One last tip for organizing a vacation: start early. I usually start putting things in a neat pile in the guest room (or my room) a week or two before our planned vacation dates. I do this as I remember things that aren’t on my original list or as I look at my list and see things that could be set aside ahead of time. This photo is of the pile that I’ve accumulated in our guest room for our impending shore trip. Of course there will be quite a few items that can’t be packed until the day or two prior to leaving, but the more that’s done ahead of time, the less stressed I am the day before. Just in case you didn’t catch it, I never wait until the morning of a scheduled departure to drag out the suitcases!

Happy trails!