Ahhh…it is that magical time of the year, the time when the days grow longer, the weather hotter, and the pools finally open. Summer! By far, summer is our girl’s favorite time of the year as it means one thing, VACATIONS!
Over the years, and through an abundance of trail and error, I have come across 5 major MUST-DOs before leaving the house for vacation. Prior to this, we would always leave the house (despite my greatest efforts and deepest intentions) a wreck! Honestly, I had no idea how this happened every time. I mean I tried everything including making daily countdown to-do charts to packing two weeks in advance–nothing worked. No matter what, we always left the house messy and of course, we returned to mess.
And if you are like me, opening the door to a messy smelling house is just…well, cruel. After experiencing enough of those moments–I set out about identifying and implementing things that would allow me to enter into a clean house. I am happy to say that I have come up with 5 things that guarantee we come back to a fresh smelling and inviting environment. For me, it doesn’t matter if we are only gone for a short weekend stay or a long holiday–I always make sure the 5 things are completed.
1. Care for the Kitchen: In addition to ‘cleaning’ the kitchen, I go a step further to really make sure that we won’t return to any stinky growths that happen when we are gone. We have come home too many times with a powerful foul smell greeting us at the door. Then we are running around the house playing, “Who can find that funk!” game. So now I make sure we do the following things in the kitchen:
- Clean the refrigerator. This doesn’t mean I am doing a deep clean that has me feeling like I am crawling inside of my refrigerator, not at all. Instead, I look at the food–make sure it is things that will keep during our time away, and I wipe the inside down (usually with vinegar, lemon juice and water).
- Put away fruits and veggies. Those beautifully arranged fruit bowls will attract bugs. Yeah, nothing like being greeted by fruit flies when you return.
- Wash and put away all dishes. Yeah, enough said.
- Empty and clean out trash cans (this means all trash cans). This is a huge one because we have always been very good at tossing the trash outside before leaving, but if something leaked in the can it could cause a big stink–so now I take two minutes to disinfect the cans
- Mop the floor. Living with three little ones means taking care of the floors more often than usual. I am so amazed how sticky the floors can get. So I make it a point to mop the floors before heading out.
2. Tackle the Laundry: Oh the laundry. I make it a goal to wash, dry and put away ALL the laundry before leaving. There is nothing worst (except bad smells and bugs) then coming home to piles of laundry, and don’t forget all the dirty clothes you have acquired on your trip. Really try to completely do your laundry before you leave.
3. Find a Home for the Flowers: I simply adore fresh flowers. But over the years I found out that fresh flowers in a house for extended periods of time without care leads to dead stinky flowers. Before I leave I know I must do something with my flowers. Depending on how long we will be gone will determine what I will do with my fresh flowers. If I am going to be gone a long time (week or longer) I will more thank likely give them to a family member or friend to enjoy. If I am going to be gone a couple of days I make sure to change the water, and remove any dead or dying leaves and buds.
4. Fresh sheets on Beds: There is nothing like coming back home and getting into your own familiar bed. I always make sure all the beds have fresh sheets on them.
5. Meals Ready to Go: When we travel, we think we know exactly what is going to happen and how we will feel and be when we return. Life has shown me that what I think will happen doesn’t always happen. We may come home sick, tired, or with unexpected guest. The one thing that always challenged me the most upon returning home was food. Trying to figure out what was for dinner, lunch and breakfast was too much. So now I make sure I have two meals ready to heat up when I return. I fix meals that freeze well if we are gone more than three days like my delicious white lasagna and meals that hold in the refrigerator well if we are gone less than two days like my tasty tuna salad.
This past Saturday we were headed for a short weekend trip to celebrate my aunt’s 70th birthday in Virginia (5 hour trip for us). We planned to head home after the party at 6pm, but like I said–you may have your plans but life doesn’t always work out that way and it sure had other plans for us! As we were headed to the car, saying our final goodbyes, we discovered that Princess Petals locked the keys in the car. Needless to say we weren’t going ANYWHERE. If you can imagine being stranded in the deep country in a field at dusk without any lights (deep country) that was our situation. Luckily my aunt and sister were with us and we decided that all the women would go back to my aunt’s house while my husband and brother-in-law waited for roadside assistance. Almost three hours later assistance did come and popped open the lock. As for us, well we all made the best of the extra time–I sure enjoyed laughing with my cousins, the girls had a ball playing with their cousins and my husband and brother-in-law enjoyed guy talk under a starry sky. Pulling into our driveway at 2:30 in the morning had me very thankful of my 5 Things rule…especially those freshly made beds and ready to go meals for the next day!
I hope you enjoy all your vacations–big and small.
Most of all,
Stay Encouraged & Be Blessed!