After eight hours of car travel with two small children, there is no better feeling than walking into a tidy, fresh home. It was a lot of work right before we left, but totally worth it. Here is what we did to make our return easier:
1. Leave the house tidy. So obvious but so hard. Trash out, dishes done, new sheets on the beds. My mom did this growing up and at the time, I thought she was nuts. It makes getting out of the house more challenging, but ultimately it provides a significantly more peaceful return—totally worth it every time.
2. Pack bags by room to make unpacking easier. We brought all of the bags into the house and immediately dispersed them to their proper room. It made unloading much more efficient and not quite as daunting (some rooms could wait, like the bedrooms, while we tackled the more important ones like the kitchen).
3. Pack laundry separately. We kept up with most of the laundry while gone, but there was still plenty to do when we got home. We packed everything dirty all in one bag before leaving and then took it directly to the laundry room.
4. Get help if you can. We have a few angels in our lives and they really helped us out while we were gone. My saintly mother dropped off groceries before we came home (she returned one day before us), so all of the necessities were waiting for us. Milk and fresh fruit never looked so incredible.
5. The most amazing, accidental tip of all: go swimming when you get back in town. When we were about an hour from home, I felt like someone was going to crack (maybe me). We were all needing some major leg stretching and outdoor time, but I knew it would be blazing hot outside once we got home. So instead of driving to our house, I suggested we go straight to the pool. Pure joy ensued. Floating in that water was the best feeling ever and much earned by all. We showered the kids there, and threw on their pjs (see tip #3). They conked out when we got home, and nothing makes for a more peaceful house than sleeping children.
Dorothy had it right: there’s no place like home.