We are going for our annual pilgrimage to Centerparcs on Monday and so this weekend I'm packing. How can it possibly take me two days to pack for a minibreak? It's ridiculous I know but there you have it.
So first I'm washing, drying and ironing the contents of the linen basket. It's not that there'll be much call for school uniform in the forest but somehow it needs doing before we can go. Then I have to steal what I think is required from the wardrobe of each child before they decide to wear it and get it dirty. But what to pack. Space is limited as there's not much room for luggage in a car packed to the gunnels with children. I scan the weather forecast, a pointless exercise and one that only makes things worse. So I pack long sleeves, short sleeves, full length and cropped, underwear, sleepwear and swimming kit. That must cover it surely? Not much left in their wardrobes but I plough on regardless.
The big two pack for themselves. This worries me. If I don't keep my wits about me we'll end up with indecently short shorts, a couple of vest tops and no underwear. I make suggestions and remind them how miserable it is to be cold. Reluctantly they include more suitable items.
I don't pack for my husband. I just nag him.
'Could you make sure everything you want to take is in the wash by tomorrow please?'
'Could you let me know how much you're taking so I can leave space?'
'If you don't give me your stuff now you'll be going in what you're standing up in.'
Of course, he doesn't understand what all the urgency is about. It's Saturday morning. How can it possibly be a priority right now? That is because he does not have a maelstrom of lists crashing around inside his skull like I do. For him, the trip involves attaching bikes to the car. The rest just happens.
Finally, I consider my own attire. I always fall into the trap of thinking that five days in a forest means scruffy clobber and then feel like a tramp for the whole week. So I've packed nice stuff which will make me feel better whilst I'm there but will require for more careful laundry on our return. C'est la vie.
Food next. Yes I know there's a shop there but it's so much easier to sort it before we go. Then I need decent knives because the ones there don't cut, the wherewithal to make good coffee and the papers that we haven't got round to this week. And I'm on the homeward stretch. Books, chargers, plasters, insect repellent, bike locks and we're nearly there.
I sometimes wonder how everyone else does it and whether it is such an all consuming task in other households. I like to think it is but I'm not entirely sure. And come Monday morning we'll either have it or we won't and it won't be a disaster one way the other. But now, in the thick of it with forty eight hours to go, I'm busy and I need to get on!!