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One of the greatest things about summer is the lack of routine. All year long we race the clock to get to work on time, get the kids off to school on time and make it to dance class or soccer practice on time.  Summer is the one time during the year where we can finally take a breath, relax, and turn off the alarm clock.

However, the lack of routine can add a whole new dimension of stress to our lives; What should I do with the kids? What should I bring with me in the car?  What if I forget something? Like I say all the time, the responsibility of getting it all together should not rest solely on your shoulders. Depending on the ages of your kids, they can (and should) actively participate in getting everything ready for the fun activities that lie in the weeks ahead.

My philosophy with packing for summer is much like everything else: KEEP IT SIMPLE. Below are 5 tips to keeping organized for the summer:

1.     TRAVEL TOTES.  If you are the type of person who takes a lot of day trips I suggest having a travel tote in your car with the essentials: sunscreen, hats, beach towels, a blanket, hairbrush and a change of clothes. *I also advocate having a travel snack cooler that you can cycle through before and after each excursion.  This should include: napkins, straws, plastic utensils, hand wipes, and non-perishable snacks.  This way, right before you leave all you need to do is add water, juice boxes, and any perishable food such as sandwiches or fruit that you may be bringing for a long day in the car.

2.     MAKE THE KIDS ACCOUNTABLE. Granted you are the adult, but that doesn’t mean that you have to remember every last item the kids want to bring. My girls who are now ages 10 ½ and 7 are responsible for charging their electronic devices and making sure they make their way into the car before a long trip.  In my opinion, it’s my responsibility to be accountable for the essentials, but anything specific that they want to bring, whether it’s a game, a book or a toy is completely up to them.  Consequently, if they forget it, oh well-not my problem.

3.     BAG OF TRICKS.  When my kids were small, I used to keep what I called “my bag of tricks” in the car at all times. It included: coloring books, crayons, some of the girls favorite board books and possibly a toy.  I kept this in my car at all times so I was never left without something to occupy them on a long line, in the car or at a restaurant. *note: you can also keep a diaper bag in your car as well so you are never left without!

4.     LAY IT OUT THE NIGHT BEFORE. Why stress yourself (and the kids) out in the morning by trying to get everything done? Instead, plan ahead.  Have the kids take out whatever clothes they want to wear and games/toys they want to bring so everything is ready to go when they wake up. No more running around searching for the DS game that you can’t seem to find or their favorite baseball hat that fits like a glove (no pun intended!).  Allow the morning to be calm and fun (a novel concept), and eliminate the chaos by being prepared.

5.     KEEP A CHANGE OF CLOTHES IN THE CAR.  Regardless of where you are going, it can never hurt to have a spare change of clothes in the car for the kids. You never know when they are going to be soaked or spill an ice cream cone down the front of their shirt.
Remember, summer should be about fun and relaxation. Don’t lose sight of this by stressing yourself out trying to do everything for everyone. It’s ok to delegate, I actually advocate it.  Having everyone pitch in to help is an important lesson that I work on teaching to my kids every day, and by following my tips I know you will be successful in teaching yours.

Happy Summer!