How to Help Your Family Get Organized After Vacation

Carrie Lowrance

Crosswalk Contributor
Published May 16, 2024
How to Help Your Family Get Organized After Vacation

We are on the cusp of summer. Soon, school will let out and summer will be in full swing. Are you ready for vacation? I’m sure most people are planning their summer getaways and looking forward to lots of family fun. Sun, sand, warm beach waters, and plenty of suntan lotion. A much-needed reprieve from work, coworkers, and everyday responsibilities. 

Most people plan like crazy to go on vacation, but what about when you get back? Chances are, the moment you get home, you walk back into a crazy, chaotic mess. It doesn’t have to be that way. 

Here are some tips to make your transition back to “reality” as smooth as possible:

When You Get Home

1. Make sure you take everything out of your vehicle- As soon as you get home, make sure you remove everything from your vehicle. It's easy to miss tablets, sippy cups, and pacifiers in the backseat. You will also want to do a quick vacuum as well and wipe down cup holders, table trays, etc. 

2. Unpack- Before unpacking your suitcase, go around and help your children unpack their suitcases. This way, dirty and clean clothes won’t get mixed up and that tube of toothpaste will wind up back in the bathroom and not squished in an inside suitcase pocket.

3. Do Laundry- Take stock of your laundry situation. Do you need to wash work clothes you didn’t get to before you left? Will the kids need their clothes washed right away or do they still have an outfit or two in their closets? You will also want to account for everyone’s undergarments, blankets, etc. Especially if you have littles that attend daycare. They will need a sheet and blanket for their cot at nap time.

4. Make dinner easy- Driving so many hours to get back home is exhausting for anyone, so make dinner easy. Buy one or two bagged frozen meals before you leave to make when you get home, or order pizza so no one has to cook.

5. Catch up on emails- Set a timer on your phone for forty-five minutes or an hour and sit down at your computer to catch up on emails. This way, when that timer goes off, you are done and don’t wind up sitting there for two or three hours. 

6. Make a to-do list- Write a list, either mentally or physically, of the things that need to be done most urgently before you start your week. This could mean planning quick meals for the rest of the week, ordering groceries for delivery, or touching base with your spouse about appointments that are coming up, activities the kids are in later in the week, or taking the car in for an oil change.

7. Involve the whole family- Assign tasks to other family members to help get re-organized. For example, Tim walks the dog, Lacy waters the plants, Joy loads the dishwasher after dinner and runs it, and Nate takes out the trash.

The Night Before You Go Back to Work

8. Choose an outfit- Make sure everyone has an outfit chosen for the next day and set it out. This includes the adults in the house as well.

9. Make sure backpacks for daycare and/or summer camp are ready by the door- Go through everyone’s backpacks from before you left to make sure there aren’t leftover snacks, dirty clothes, too many toys, etc. Next, have your kids make sure they have everything they need for the next day, including art supplies, water shoes, etc. Have your older kids help your younger ones round up what they need.

10. Make sure shoes are ready by the door- Have everyone put their shoes by the door so no one is looking for the missing one the next morning. This includes parents, too.

11. Make sure your stuff is ready by the door- Parents, make sure you have everything you need to go to work and set it by the door as well. You will appreciate taking a few extra minutes the night before to get organized.

12. Pack what you can for lunch- Lay out your children’s lunchboxes on the counter and add snacks and beverages. Then all you have to do is make sandwiches in the morning and throw them in. 

13. Make breakfast a snap- The night before, set the table for breakfast and put out boxes of cereal, pop tarts, bakery muffins, etc. This will ensure a smooth breakfast in the morning. 

14. Set the coffee maker- Set your coffee maker to brew at a certain time in the morning so the coffee is ready when you come downstairs. Heaven. 

15. Check the weather- Make sure you check the weather for the next day so there are no surprises in the morning, and if you need anything in particular, make sure it is sitting by the front door as well. 

16. Go to bed early- You have had a great week of family fun time and chances are you all have been up later than usual. Make sure everyone gets to bed early so you all can have a happy, productive day the next day.

The Next Morning

17. Set your alarm fifteen minutes early- Set your alarm for fifteen minutes before you wake up and just lie there and relax. Since you organized everything the night before, you can relish not having to get out of bed and start your day in a rush.

18. Finish packing lunches- Make sandwiches and finish packing those lunchboxes. 

19. Fill your to-go mug- Fill travel mugs with coffee for you and your spouse if you have one.

20. Head out the door- You should be able to head out the door in a calm, peaceful, organized manner and have a great day ahead.

The Week Ahead

Sit down and think about your week ahead, what you need to do, and what’s coming up.

21. Make a family command center- Get a bulletin or white board and put it somewhere that everyone will see it. A whiteboard calendar is a great idea too. This command center is where you should keep schedules, important papers, and other family-related information. That way, everyone will know what is going on, what day.

22. Plan your menu- Chances are you won’t have much as far as groceries in the house, so plan your menu for the week. This will help you stay on budget and not spend a fortune on takeout because you don’t know what’s for dinner.

23. Order groceries- Order your groceries online for either pickup or delivery. By ordering online, you’re not tempted by impulse purchases.

24. Check or schedule appointments- Look at your calendar and make sure no one has any appointments coming up. This is also a good time to schedule things like an oil change and tire rotation, taking the dog or cat for shots, or a trip to the dentist.

Coming home from vacation doesn’t have to be unorganized and full of chaos. With a little thought and planning, you can have a smooth transition back to your normal routine. If you are getting ready to go on vacation, look over these tips and start planning what you will implement to help everyone in the family get back to reality. This way, you will come home less stressed and ready to face the week ahead.

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