Nothing would make this moment much better than a cup of tea and a slab of Cadbury chocolate. The house is quiet – my daughter has her comfort toy draped across her face and is fast asleep in her cot; my mom and sister are also taking an afternoon siesta and my dad and husband are out for a round (no, probably two or three) of putt-putt. I, on the other hand am sitting on the couch opposite a curving mountain range, rolling hills and a rippling lake waiting to indulge in a real girly programme.

Tucked away in the berg in a huge house right on the front of a lake, the only noises to be heard are Egyptian geese jabbering, hadedas squawking from time to time, crickets trilling and frogs singing. And, at this time of the day, everyone and everything is still. Only the wind ruffles the curtains and bursts through the open door sporadically as if taking deep breaths every so often. Suddenly I have to laugh… As I sit and type, a fly buzzed over my head! Not quite the image that I am trying to portray! Such is life!

Not much can rival this place of solitude. And little could coerce me to give up our week’s timeshare here once a year. The smell of the thatch is engrained in my memory. The geese flapping in indignation and landing noisily on the rooftop then hollering a loud “Good morning!” is a sound I love and I cannot hear anywhere else without wishing I was here. And it sounds silly, but childhood nostalgia still makes me want to repeat some things just for old time’s sake. First a welcome drink of guava juice at reception, then racing to get to the trampoline for a few jumps before running across the grass to the house in front of the lake, walking through the front door and drinking in the scent of the thatch. My dad had made a game of the arduous duty of checking all the items in the house and it was just part of the tradition. My sister and I would then pour over the TV guide and select the programmes we had no access to at home. It wouldn’t be long before a game of putt-putt or a paddle across the lake would ensue.

Okay, honestly now, I’d rather drink the juice and skip the trampoline as I’m a good near twenty years over the age limit and just enjoy the view with a cup of tea. Holidays, especially in this place hold such sweet memories for me and I realise how important and special they were in my upbringing. Now, being a parent, I hope and pray that we can build a similar treasure chest of memories, special moments and heart-penetrating conversations in the hearts of our own children.

 

However, sentiments aside, I find myself in a very different position now from childhood or even the early days of our marriage. In the last year, I now have the daunting job of packing.

Yes, I’ve packed my own suitcase for years, but now I am wardrobe co-ordinating for another person. And if that wasn’t bad enough, children, especially very young children bring a new set of packing rules to the party. They don’t always eat the same food as we do or sleep in a bed and woe betide you forget the one thing without which they cannot sleep! You’ll wish you had never left home! In my case, my child decided that it was a good time to chew a hole in her dummy.

Paranoid mom + no shops that sell a decent dummy = waking up every few hours to put it in, waiting for her to nod off and then taking it out! Of course, I didn’t think to pack an extra dummy!

 

So, in an attempt to make your life easier, I want to share a few holiday packing tips that will hopefully stand you in good stead for the Christmas holiday.

1. Start a day or two before

I’ve always found that, just for the sake of my own sanity, it’s a good idea to start laying out the things you want to take on some surface – which now has to be out of reach of little hands – a few days beforehand. This makes me feel more in control and, as a result, I am not as uptight. Then there’s no mad rush the night before realising that the top that matches those pants are in the wash, the baby soap is ridiculously low and you only have your moth-eaten underwear left to take.

2. Make a list

In fact, make two. One is a list of things you need to pack. The other, a list of things you want to do before you leave.  I’ve found it really helpful with a tiny tot to have a list that I can refer back to because I’m bound to forget something important and it would kill me to have it at home but have to make an unwelcome dash to a shop (which in the case of this last holiday, was far away) and waste money because I left it sitting in a cupboard at home. And with all the paraphernalia I need for my child, I am bound to forget my pyjamas or toothbrush. So making a list of what to pack for myself was also useful.

This is the first time I’ve made a list of things to get through before we went away and, my living, I felt so liberated going away. It was so satisfying to know that I left behind a clean, organised house and that I wouldn’t return to chaos.

3. Check the weather and wash in advance

I sometimes decide to wash on a certain day only to find out that the very day that I haven’t filled up with other commitments was the one that happened to be the coldest, wettest day of the week. I’ve found it helpful to make sure that I find a day of the week that’s warm enough to dry enough of the washing long enough in advance. For the remainder of the week, we can live with mismatched, old clothes.

4. Have a medical box

I must be honest, I carried little more than plasters and Panado before having a child. Now….

I pretty much take a box solely devoted to medicine. The thought of buying something that I have at home pains me. So I’d rather just pack it. Apart from which, I don’t need my toddler running a temp in the middle of the night and being stuck with nothing to give her. A couple of extra things I added this time were Steri-strip and Burn Shield. The Steri-strip has been a recent addition to our medical box after my daughter accidently head-butted the lounge table and ended up with a small cut above her eye. I was more concerned about the eye ball but our doctor friend told us that she would sport a nasty scar if we didn’t close up the cut. Now, that tiny strip of sticky gauze will be a staple in my medical kit.

Kids don’t burn themselves often but if and when it happens, I want to be able to act quickly and not have to hunt down a place that sells Burn Shield.

5. Toys

I think we all know that it’s important to pack toys. But a mistake I’ve made before it to just grab whatever comes out of the drawer first and then a few favourites. Bad life choice! I’ve realised that I need to pack the things that entertain her most. And, certainly in our case, it may not even be toys. The things my daughter loves more than any toy are a drawer of my bracelets, a photo album with a stack of loose photos, books and something to draw on. This last holiday she barely gave a second glance to her toys. It would probably be better to say – Take what entertains your child and this need not necessarily be toys.

Take a look at this video… I feel it will give you a good idea (if you don’t already have one!!) of what I mean!

I’ll be kind and help you out a bit. Here is a 4 page list of things to pack. Hope it helps!

Packing List

So bring on the Christmas holidays, happy faces, relaxation (at least some, I hope!) and memories! I hope you have a blast with your family and that the packing experience is a pleasant

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