Sunday, June 8, 2014

Make Coming Back to the Real World Easier

You’re busy planning your vacation – packing, putting stops on your mail and newspapers, double checking your itinerary… There’s always so much to do before a getaway – but if you take just a little extra time to make a few preparations before you leave, coming home will be a thing of joy – not an adjustment to real life.

Plan a few meals in advance – go for the kind that can be prepared most of the way, frozen and then require only minimal preparation at mealtime (like a lasagna you can just pop frozen right into the oven). You’ll be glad to have a few nights of dinners ready when you come home.

Go grocery shopping – stock your pantry with enough to get you through a few days after you get home… put the bread in the freezer, buy organic or lactose free milk (the expiration dates on these are usually months ahead as long as they haven’t been opened), Apples keep well in the crisper drawer, so does un opened bagged lettuce. Just look for things that are either non-perishable or have expiration dates after your return (and don’t open them before you go – the expiration dates are for unopened packages).

Take out all the trash and recycling – Ask a neighbor if they can move the can to the curb & back again on trash day. Neighbors are usually happy to do this and you can do the same for them when they’re gone.

Wash it up – make sure all of the laundry is done! There’s nothing worse than coming home to a musty-moldy smell coming from the washroom.

Design an outfit – If you’ll be coming home and going back to work the next day, pick our your outfit for the work day (and your kids outfits) put everything together in a special spot – one less thing for a vacation-mode mind to think about. It will also keep you from having to do laundry the night you get home so you’ll have something to wear.

Do a quick change – Make up the beds with fresh sheets and hang fresh towels in the bathroom. You’ll feel like you’re still at your hotel when you get home.

Let your plants go for a swim – Place your houseplants in the bathtub (preferably not one you’ll need as soon as you get home) and fill with an inch or so of water. The plants will be able to soak up the water they need and will still be green & healthy when you return.

Set your email for vacation mode – most email programs allow you to set an auto respond that let your clients or family know you won’t be able to answer your emails. Choose a return date a few days after your return so you don’t feel pressured to go through 10,000 emails the day you come home.

Make a clean sweep – throw away anything in your refrigerator that will expire before your return and also toss all leftovers (they’ll be truly nasty – and dangerous – by the time you get home).

While you’re on vacation make your return easier by:

Sorting your dirty laundry – use the laundry bags provided by your hotel (they never leave enough, don’t be afraid to leave a note [in a place they’ll surely see it, like the bathroom faucet] asking for more). Sort your dirties as you would at home… dark, light, bleach (however you sort). This will make it infinitely easier to do laundry when you return – simply dump the bag into the washer! It’s also a great idea to pre-treat your stains while you’re gone. (I always take a Spray & Wash Stain Stick with me and pre-treat the stains on clothes as the kids take them off, before I toss them into their dirty clothes bag) This will save lots of time going through the clothes and finding what needs pre-treating before you wash.

Pack most important things last – be sure to save anything you might need when you get home (makeup, your jacket, slippers) on the top layer in your suitcase. That way you won’t have to rummage through the suitcase and have things strewn everywhere when you get home.

Lastly, when you do get home:

Be sure to unpack you suitcases promptly. Yes, there are people who have their suitcases cleaned out and put away the next day… but if you’re like me, you do the laundry and the rest of the stuff can sit there for days (I find it totally irritating and don’t know why I leave it sit – habit, I guess). Then there are others who (like the stinky cheese suitcase episode in “Everybody Loves Raymond”) can let their suitcases sit for weeks or months. Trust me, your household will run more smoothly with the suitcases empty and put away where they belong

Vacations are fun and relaxing. You can sightsee, play, or simply do nothing at all.

Going on vacation is something we look forward to all year and… coming home is something we dread all vacation long. This year, take a little time to plan ahead for your return and your “return to the real world” headache will be non-existent!

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