Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wanted: efficiency training

I’ve had 20 months to practice, but I still haven’t mastered the art of outings – particularly overnight ones. As if the two hours it takes us to get out the door wasn’t confirmation enough, surely the dozen bags, backpacks and other assorted baby items waiting to be loaded in the trunk are.

This weekend we went to the Texas Renaissance Festival and, once again, the preparation for our 36-hour getaway took longer than the mini-vacation itself. I started packing Thursday – a full two-and-a-half days before our scheduled departure. To say “packing” is really a misnomer; there were no clean clothes to stuff in bags. Instead, I made a list of everything that we needed to take and did laundry all afternoon.

By Friday, my and Ladybug’s overnight bags were basically ready. Before she went to bed that night, I filled another backpack with toys to entertain her during the five-hour drive. Saturday I folded up her portable playpen (it’s what she sleeps in when we travel) and cleaned up her stroller after our dusty walk. Then I washed and sterilized enough bottles to get us through the next two days, cleared off a shelf in the refrigerator and stocked it with food to pack in the cooler the next morning for a picnic lunch along the way.

I was up by 6 a.m. Sunday to make a hearty breakfast, pack the cooler and gather up any last-minute items. Things were rolling along, and it looked like we would make our target departure time of 8 a.m. And then my husband asked where his shorts were.

Um, on the shelf in the bathroom. And dirty. I had forgotten to wash them.

With my husband’s only other presentable shorts already packed and temperatures expected to climb near 90 degrees that afternoon, I had no choice but to wait while the stray pair ran through the quick wash cycle. I sat on the sofa twiddling my thumbs as the clock ticked past 8 a.m., 8:15, 8:30. This was ridiculous; two-and-a-half days of preparation and here I am sitting on the couch at the last minute waiting for laundry. If we didn’t leave soon, we’d hardly have any time at the Renaissance festival. When the washing machine clicked, signaling the end of the cycle, my husband grabbed the shorts and said we were leaving. The shorts would dry during the drive, he said.

As the hours on the road passed and we neared our destination, my crankiness began to fade. We made it to the festival by early afternoon … more or less on target 60 hours after packing began.

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