By Helena Zachariassen, Home & Lifestyle Editor
There are few things more stressful than the last weeks before the long awaited summer holidays, especially if you’re travelling for most of the holidays. We’re not even used to travelling anymore, so in these pandemic times at least some of our expectations might be astronomically high. So what makes up our pre holiday stress? It can be work to finish, kids’ end of year school events, teacher gifts, a household to prepare for going away as well as returning, laundry, packing, gardening, home admin, covid tests…the list is endless.
With this guide I hope you can get yourself and your home organised enough to tick off some of the chores already before leaving. You will enjoy your time away even more as well as knowing that you’re not returning to an endless to do list and a chaotic home.
1. Work: Clear the mental clutter and put on your ‘Out of office’ a few days early
This trick helps colleagues getting used to the fact that an instant response is not required at all times. By reminding them that you will respond but that it might take a bit longer due to the holiday period, you will help yourself reducing the amount of requests and emails coming in before your actual holidays and support reducing also the mental clutter.
2. Home: prepare your home to allow for rest and more mental space
Running a household and a family involves a million chores and things to do during a year. Just for these summer holidays, try prepping yourself with the help of this list and see if it makes you feel lighter and less mentally burdened. Are you able to focus more on being present in the now? Are you able to give your family your fullest attention? Give yourself a well deserved break from all the to do’s in your mind and focus on recharging your batteries. If you have small kids, I know you get very little done , but consider getting help for a few hours so you can help yourself in the long run!
If you’re ready to give it a go, these simple ‘before leaving chores’ might be a total game changer. And make sure to involve any older kids to be responsible for their own rooms. By teaching them to start young we offer them a gift for life:
a) Change bed linen in advance
Do this 1-2 days before leaving so there’s no stress on the actual travelling day and it will feel great to return home to clean sheets.
b) Wash all laundry and return everything to their homes
Wash all your laundry up until a couple of days before departure so you have time to dry and fold and return it all to their home address.
c) Pause your mail, newspapers, gym subscriptions etc.
You might need to give notice a few weeks earlier for pausing any mail or subscriptions, so make sure to check all terms and conditions as early as possible.
d) Pre-program any outstanding bills to be paid on the due date
E-banking is made for this. Pre-program any bills that need attention during the time you’re away and it’s instantly out of your mind.
e) Go through the fridge and toss anything that already has or will expire during your holiday
This doesn’t need to take more than 15 mins and can be done a few days before travelling. Look through the food, keep what you can, donate the good stuff to your neighbour, toss the rest and wipe off the shelves.
f) Make sure you have food for the first day back
Leave some essentials in the freezer as well as some dry foods in a cupboard so you don’t need to go grocery shopping the same day you return or if returning late at night.
g) Clean the house to your liking so you know it will feel great to return
I’ve said this before and I will say it again: a tidy home equals a tidy mind. Give yourself the gift of coming home to a clean, inviting and orderly space where you can give yourself a moment to ground yourself and your family before getting back into the routines.
h) Give an extra key to a friend or neighbour who can water any plants and check on your house when you’re away
Weather conditions are currently extreme in many parts of the world. We just had a water damage in our house due to extreme rain, luckily noticed before going away, so make sure you have agreed with someone to check regularly on your home. Or simply to keep your plants alive too.
i) Empty the balcony/garden of any unnecessary items that might get destroyed by turbulent weather
In the past month we’ve had the strongest gales and hail storms in years, which might destroy outdoor furniture and plants if not protected properly. Remove everything that might fly away or can be moved indoors so you can sleep in peace.
j) Refuel the car and give it a quick wash if needed
A refuelled and clean car sets you up for an even nicer return.
3. Packing: Plan and prepare your capsule holiday wardrobe
Start planning early to avoid any last-minute stress and potential wrong decisions. Try to plan outfits in advance if possible – take with you only what you need. If you know what kind of events you will be attending, plan the outfit and check if it can be mixed and matched with other outfits too. Be honest, if you’re not sure if you’ll really wear it, leave it at home. Avoid overpacking!
I have a thing for number 3. When styling an interior you also look for grouping items in threes. Most of the time you won’t be needing more than 3 different items within the same category, especially if you’re able to wash your clothes at your destination. Try this time saving and sanity saving packing list (for a min. week long trip):
3 pairs of trousers/jeans
3 dresses for different occasions
3 pairs of shorts/skirts
3 pairs of shoes
3 sweaters/hoodies/cardigans for chilly evenings (depending on destination)
underwear/socks for each day (at least 3, double it up to be safe)
2 pyjamas (yes, I know, destroys the number 3…but no need for 3 sets)
3 sports outfits
3 pieces of swimwear (a mix of swim suits/bikinis and a cover up)
3 bags (suitcase and 2 other bags for day/evening use)
3 pairs of ear rings/jewellery to mix and match
Potential jacket(s) depending on destination
4. The ultimate packing guide: love the KonMari fold
Vertical folding saves a lot of space, also in a suitcase! Roll thinner fabrics, for example, summer dresses, to prevent wrinkles. Delicate items and potential suits might be better off laid flat on top of everything else or carefully folded in the special hanging/folding compartment included in many suitcases. If you need any help with folding, please reach out!
When I found Organista packing cubes a few years ago, it changed my family’s whole packing business for good. Packing cubes come in different sizes and are usually ca 10 cm high which means you can simply transfer your readily file folded items from your closet directly into a packing cube and the clothes stay neat for the whole duration of your trip. They protect the clothes and are see-through so you will easily be able to see what’s in them too. If you don’t want to use packing cubes you can of course also place your folded items directly in the suitcase.
5. How to keep your packing organised while away
Unpack everything as soon as you arrive at your destination. It makes you feel welcome and ready to start enjoying your new environment when everything has a home again. As a family of four we usually need quite a bit of storage space. But since my beloved packing cubes are see-through, I tend to keep storing our clothes in the cubes during the whole holiday, unless you have a lot of extra space where you can unpack the contents of yours and your family members’ suitcases. If you have shelves or drawers just gently move your file folded packages directly to the assigned storage space and hang any dresses that look happier when they’re hung.
6. Returning home: stress free unpacking
With the risk of sounding like a stuck cd player as well as a nagging mom, I will re-emphasize the importance of unpacking all suitcases immediately. Laundry can simply be dropped directly from the suitcase into the correct laundry basket and a first load put on within half an hour of returning home. The clean and still folded items may be put back into the respective closets and re-used. When all luggage has been unpacked within hours of returning you’re done with the largest part and you can start tackling the other household chores after a good night’s sleep in clean sheets.
Have you downloaded our free ebook – 21 Hidden Gems of Switzerland ? If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to download while planning your Swiss Summer Getaway.
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To read posts from June, click here