Of all my unfortunate personality traits, I think ‘inability to accurately judge how long it takes to do anything’ is (one of) the worst. This particular issue especially rears its ugly head during preparations for our semi-annual ‘epic journey to the Midwest’.
Realistically, I should start the packing process about four days before our scheduled departure. Choosing clothes for five people, packing said clothes, figuring out what else to take (diapers, toiletries, food, toys, computers, cameras, music,etc.), doing all the laundry and cleaning the house.
Instead, four days before we were supposed to hit the road, I woke up in the morning and said to the professor: ‘do you think we should move the king-sized bed in the basement up to our room?’
In my defense, we had talked about doing so a few times, but hadn’t acted on the idea . Concluding it was too much work. But, recently, two boys had been coming to our room in the early hours of the morning. On a daily basis. Which meant a queen sized bed was no longer big enough for the four or five of us.
Call me high maintenance, but I just can’t get a lot of sleep on five inches of mattress. Without any pillows or covers.
So my better half humoured me and agreed to dismantle the bed in the basement. And dismantle our current bed. And then we carried the two box springs, enormous mattress, headboard and frame all the way up (two sets of stairs) to our bedroom. Despite the arduousness of the task, the wheels in my head were turning. When the big bed finally sat in our room, I called to the professor.
‘What do you think about moving the office….down to the basement?’ We’d talked about doing that too. But hadn’t. Because it seemed like an awful lot of work: carrying two desks and bookcases and boxes of files and paperwork downstairs.
By the end of the day (originally dedicated to trip preparation) we’d rearranged three rooms and the house was messier than when we started.
And then it was three days before our departure date and, instead of making lists and checking them off, I looked at the professor. ‘Do you think my blog is boring?’ He didn’t know what to say, it was sort of like being asked ‘do these pants make me look fat?’ So I spent the whole of the evening trying to come up with a new wordpress theme for my blog.
And then it was two days before we were supposed to leave and, other than getting some snacks, I still hadn’t done any packing. ‘I have all day tomorrow,’ I poo-poohed a friend when she asked me about it. ‘With three kids?’ she asked-reminded. Apparently other people get that it is not, in fact, possible to get much of anything done when you have three children milling about.
I wish I understood that, too. It seems unfortunate to be an ‘eternal optimist’ in only one area of my life.
The night before we were due to hit the road, the professor and I slaved until 2am to get everything ready; the car packed, the house cleaned. As I plopped my weary body upon the (king-sized!) bed, I made feeble little mental notes to remember the load of laundry I’d washed…but not dried. To pack the toothbrushes that we still had to use in the morning. To take the trash out, lest we come back a month later to an exceedingly ripe, diaper-filled trash can.
So in an effort to avoid burning the midnight oil and running around like a chicken without a head, here’s my note to self. For next time.
Pack everything except food two days ahead of time. No matter what. Don’t buy silly putty. Or sculpting clay. Or little wind-up toys that make clattering noises for hours on end. Don’t bother packing all the movies – they’ll only watch 3 anyway. Don’t buy snacks from Costco, it’s just too much. (Especially not fifty packs of fruit-flavoured Craisins. Blech.) Pack one blanket per child, as they do not like sharing blankets in the car. Or much of anything, come to think of it. Review route with fellow adult traveler. Agree on the number of stops and the purpose of stops. And remember the rules for stopping.
Without a plan, a trip tends to fall apart. Quickly.