Sssshhhhh!  Don’t tell the crazy lady that just posted this, but it IS Wednesday!  She must be having a difficult time keeping track of her days since getting home from such a relaxing vacation. *snicker, snicker* she’s so lame!

clearing throat loudly and moving on…

So this week I’m highlighting tips on how to help lessen work load while camping, er um, with a camping trailer.  You can adjust these to hotel vacations and tent camping also.  I’ve learned these the hard way.  Hopefully some of these will be new ideas for you that will help you relax a bit this summer.

~ Make dinners at Home and Freeze.  This was the biggest load-lightener for me.  It does require more work at home before the trip but trust me, every evening, when you pop that already made dinner in the oven (or campfire), you’ll pat yourself on the back and kiss yourself in the mirror (not recommended if you are having to use a public bathroom mirror!) for being so smart.  It’s so nice and easy to just pull out that day’s dinner in the morning, let it defrost all day while you are out and about (or snoozing in the sunshine) and then just heat it up for 30 minutes before dinner.  Some great homemade frozen dinner ideas are, lasagne, enchiladas, Chicken ala King, soups, taco meat (just bring along the tortillas and fixin’s), meatloaf.  You can do store-bought frozen dinners in a pinch but it ends up being so much better for your vacation-stretched budget to make them at home.  Sometimes I do half homemade, half store bought if I’m in a time crunch.  Also, I use the aluminum pans to freeze them in.  That way, even the clean up is a snap. Just toss that dirty pan in the trash and move on to dessert!  Breakfasts can also be made ahead of time. Big Daddy Biscuits work great! Just mix all but the milk together, place in a ziploc (make sure to write the milk measurement and cooking temp and time on the outside.  ‘Cuz those vacationing brain cells forget a LOT!) and refrigerate until you’re ready to use.  Sausage gravy can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen.  And frozen waffles or french toast make for easy mornings too.

~ Plan Ahead.  For a long time I fought the need to really plan well for vacation.  But it’s worth it’s weight in gold people.  The more you plan for, the less spur-of-the-moment scurring around you have to do while on vacation.  Plan for layered clothing so that you are somewhat prepared no matter the weather (like this recent trip to Arizona when we woke up to 8 inches of snow – in MAY!).   

Plan for some extra food, just in case you get snowed in end up feeding new friends you meet along the way or your kids suddenly become ravenous vultures from all the activities and fun going on.  Plan and pack for each activity you hope to do.  It’ll save you money AND errand running if you can bring it from home.

~ Bring toys and quiet kid activities.  Since you might want some downtime while the kids are awake, bring along toys, games and coloring/reading books that they can do on their own.  That will allow you to relax a bit while they entertain themselves.  We keep a separate set of toys in the trailer that they only get to play with while we’re camping.  That way, the toys stay special and new to them.  We do retire them about every year and a half and bring new ones on board.

~ Tag Team It. One of the ultimate, most fabulous things Hubby does for me is take the three oldest out for about an hour and a half every morning.  Because Lil Blue still takes morning naps, he stays behind with me.  But when he drops that nap, you better believe he gets to tag along with Dad too!   Here’s our morning system: I get up at 7am with the kids and let Hubby try to ignore the breakfast rukus sleep in.  Around 9am, when Lil Blue goes back to bed, Hubby then heads out for some grand adventure with the rest of the mini-muffins and I get to eat the breakfast leftovers and go back to sleep leisurely shower, dress and get ready for the day.  It’s delightful I tell you, those moments of peace and quiet.  Helps me prepare myself for the onslaught of activity that is the rest of the day.

~ Try To Stick To Your Regular Routine.  This one is probably the hardest to do but also really pays off.  Obviously, some activities will demand a change to your regular at-home schedule.  But when you can, stick to regular meal times, naptimes and bedtimes.  Your kids will then know what to expect.  And when that is the case, they tend to be a little less crazy and overwhelmed by the whole vacation thing.  Especially the real little ones.  They really benefit from a shedule at home so why should vacation be different?  If you want to preserve some of your sanity that is.

I know there are probably more tips I’m forgetting but I’ll add them as the come to me.  I’d love to hear what you do to help lighten the load during vacations so feel free to leave them in the comment section.  Maybe I can compile all of our tips and make a page out of them for quick reference for us all. 

For more great tips and ideas, check out Rocks In My Dryer.