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Chronicles of Parenting

Chronicles of Parenting: Toddler Trip Packing Primer

by Jocelyn Jane Cox

Welcome to the Chronicles of Parenting by local author, freelance writer, blogger and parent-of-toddler Jocelyn Jane Cox. Read on for advice you never knew you needed and the chuckles you know you really need, tailored to those who live in the Great State of Parenthood.

Packing for a Trip with a Toddler?

Trying to get away this summer? Hoping to have an adventure with your kiddies more than a few hours from home? That’s great! But I have some sobering news: first, you’ll have to pack. Whether you travel by car or plane or jet ski, getting everyone’s belongings stuffed into bags is an uphill battle that might make you question why you ever wanted to go away in the first place. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  1. They will trail you like a hawk: Because your toddlers’ belongings are stored in their bedrooms, you can’t easily pack up their stuff while they’re napping or sleeping…This means they’ll be following you from room to room and getting underfoot. While you’re trying to concentrate, they’ll be asking several thousand questions per minute, most of which have to do with giants, dinosaurs, or something you can’t even begin to understand from that show Super Why!
  1. Inclusion doesn’t help: Let’s say you give your toddler their choice of three toys to bring on the trip to include them in the process and keep them busy while you pack. You will immediately regret this, since the painstaking toy selection process may last longer than the trip itself. Scientists say the average toddler can change their mind up to 57,000 times a day, with each new decision accompanied by intensive lobbying. The good news is that the accompanying whining will remind you to pack earplugs for your trip.
  1. Library books are expensive: Likewise, while choosing which books to take, toddlers will invariably select the largest and also the most valuable books, i.e. library books, the ones you don’t actually own. When you leave these behind at the hotel, expect to pay a replacement cost equal to the Greek bailout package.
  1. Toddlers think packing is playtime: They will inevitably want to play with the clothes you are trying to organize into neat piles on your bed. This includes but is not limited to: throwing shirts into the air á la fireworks, or putting shorts on their heads.
  1. While you pack, they might unpack: For example, you have spent a great deal of time and energy trying to convince your toddlers that their shoes belong in a specific place in your home, perhaps in the front hall or in a designated bin in the mud room. Though this concept eludes them every other day of the year, as soon as they see you put them in a bag, they will promptly take them back out, say, “I know where these go!” and proudly deposit them in the correct spot.
  1. They may also want to get in the bag: Toddlers love enclosed spaces almost as much as they love zippers.
  1. After packing for the kids there won’t be much room left for your own stuff: Who knows how many potty accidents, muddy puddles, and ice cream incidents your children will encounter over the next few days, so the only safe bet is to pack ALL THEIR CLOTHES. To make room for ALL THEIR CLOTHES, you will have to downsize your own packing list. According to Murphy’s Law, this pretty much guarantees that you will have your own potty accident, fall into a muddy puddle, and dribble mocha ice cream all down the front of the only nice shirt you could fit into the luggage.
  1. As distraction increases, organization decreases: When your toddlers start “vrooming” the suitcase around the house before it’s closed, you’ll just start chucking things in there willy-nilly while its in motion. When you get where you’re going, you’ll have no idea which pocket contains the sunscreen and the swimmy diaper you need immediately. For 25 annoying minutes you’ll frantically question whether you even packed them.
  1. Toddlers have no concept of time: In an effort to get toddlers to “transition” to this upcoming adventure, you’ll be talking up the trip with an exaggerated excitement…you know, the quick journey, the cool sights, and the super-fun accommodations. The result is that they will want to go RIGHT NOW even if the departure isn’t until the next day. Just try to explain what “tomorrow” means, and you’ll get soaked by a fountain of frustration tears.

And when it is actually time to leave? Well, good luck with that because now your kids have no interest in going. Just don’t forget to bend your knees when you pick up that luggage in one arm and your flailing kids in the other.

Jocelyn Jane Cox. Photo Credit: ©2015 Dave Zornow

Jocelyn Jane Cox is a  freelance writer and author. Her 2012 humor book on life in the New York suburbs, The Homeowner’s Guide to Greatness: How to handle natural disasters, design dilemmas and various infestations, is available on Follow her on Twitter at @JocelynJaneCox.


The Chronicles of Parenting is sponsored by The Palisades Center, your one-stop-shop for fun. Come to the Palisades Center for Munchkin Mondays, childrens’ concerts throughout the summer in the East Court. See the complete schedule of summer events at

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