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Dear Hattie-

My family went camping this summer. Between packing the food, the clothes, the first aid supplies, and the gear, I am not sure I will be ready to do that again anytime soon. It’s exhausting! Any tips on how to make trips with kids easier?

Sincerely, Tired of Tent Pegs

Dear Tent Pegs,

I would be lying if I said that family trips-and camping especially, are not a ton of work to prepare for, but the memories made and the time spent together really do last throughout the years. If you can find ways to get ‘er done, it will be worth the effort.

Here are a few things you may find helpful when packing for a family trip: 

  1. Use a Reproducible Packing List for children: Create a handy blank packing list with pictures that can help ensure kids have what they need while still giving them the independence to pack themselves (even if they can’t quite read yet). Keep a master packing list on file to make packing for any trip an easier, reproducible process. Once your list is set up for your particular trip, run copies for however many you need. Older kids can help by packing younger kids. Just make sure they each pass yours’ or an older child’s final inspection.
  2. Designate a dirty laundry bag on Day 1: communicate to your family where all worn and dirty clothes are to go (a black garbage bag works well) from day one. That way you can stay on top of the mess in your space and with the clothing. When you get home, take said dirty laundry directly to the washing machine and get started as soon as possible. It’s simple, but this tip does help keep the smells and messes contained and brings some sense of cleanliness to camping.
  3. Store like things with like things: if you have a little extra storage space at home and can find duplicate items at garage sales, make up a kitchen box of needed utensils for cooking while camping or vacationing, such as: a can opener, dish soap, lighter stick, cooking spoons, plasticware, kitchen knife, cutting board, cleaning products, table cloth, etc. While you will need to inventory before each trip, such a box will prevent you from recreating the wheel each time you pack. Any other scenario that will allow for this, just replicate: a swim box with swimmies, pull ups, and sunscreen; a stocked first aid box with bug spray and bandaids. Hope you get the idea. 

And I hope that helps give you some fresh ideas to make the work of preparation a little lighter.

Dear Hattie-

I know many moms look forward to starting back to school in the fall, but I confess I get very melancholy. Mostly it is about the changes and my kids getting older. I know God is good, but what can help ease the tug in my heart?

Sincerely, Growing Pains

Dear Growing Pains,

Change is hard–and harder in some seasons than others. Milestones seem to reveal how quickly time is passing and children are growing. Milestones also serve as a motivation to  remain present with our children! It is good to acknowledge the changes you are going through: cry, talk, remember, and lean into God harder through those changes. Maybe these little steps are preparation for bigger changes down the road. Every departure our children make from our nest can seem like a loss to us as moms; but for our children, it can be a launching point into the plans God has for them. Pray God gives you an excitement for that. Be sure to look for new ways to bless and encourage your family as changes come. And remember to use the increased burden and appreciation you have for them in this season to drive you to pray for them and the changes they are experiencing as well. God is able to strengthen you in this season. Lean into Him as God refines you through the changes!

Dear Hattie-

Real quick. What are some thoughts on the best way to get school supplies when I am crunched for time?

Sincerely, Tricia Trapper Keeper

Dear Ms. Trapper Keeper, 

I have just a few words for this challenging (and sometimes dreaded) task: “Wal-Mart Grocery Pick-Up”. If you use their app and use the search for your specific items, Wal-Mart will shop your list for you and let you know when it is ready for pick up. It doesn’t get much easier.  To the best of my knowledge you can select almost all of the no. 2 pencils and colored folders you need. There is a minimum order amount for it to be free (25ish dollars), but you can add your groceries in as well. Hope you find it a helpful tool!

Love, Hattie