By Susan Barnett

I went into last weekend with a mountain to climb. I’ve been offered a huge opportunity to co-host CBS’s afternoon talk show THE TALK on Friday, an offer that may only come along once in my entire career. Since the show shoots in Los Angeles, I will be flying out of Philadelphia mid-week, shooting the show and returning next weekend. I have child care all sorted out thanks to my sister who is my fulltime babysitter/nanny.

Everything seemed to be falling neatly into place… until I realized my trip to the west coast runs right up against my family vaction to the shore! This means that before I can even think about packing myself for THE TALK (a selection of four outifts for the wardrobe department to choose from, coordinating accessories, hair, makeup products, clothes for sight seeing while I’m there, etc), I first have to pack my entire family for a week at the beach. Enough stuff for two kids and myself (including a maternity bathing suit, that’s enough to push any woman over the edge) plus bed linens, beach towels, bath towels, food, baby formula, diapers, sippy cups, sand toys, inside toys, bikes, helmets, strollers, swimmies, medicines, make arrangements for the cat and finally… my husband can pack his own clothes!

So all of this dawned on me late last week! Since I work full time I was left to figure out how I would get all of this done this weekend in addition to all the other regular weekend chores (everything you can’t get done during the week). Needless to say, I was a little stressed out. Who hasn’t been there once, twice or a hundred times?

Clearly, I had my work cut out for me. There was only one way to climb this mountain without passing out from loss of oxygen before I made it to the top or in my case, to the shore.I had to pack EVERYTHING over the weekend. Everything I need for LA and everything my entire family needs for our one week a year in paradise.. and I don’t want to be the one to screw that up.

Saturday came and went. My husband, the kids and I were out all day long running errands. That left Sunday. I started the day Sunday with an early appointement related to the LA trip. But something happened when I got home. I started making a pile in the kitchen. Two piles actually.

Refrigerator food (condiments, meal staples, etc) and pantry food and supplies (chips, crackers, paper plates, plasticware, etc). Then I started adding in a few cleaning products, laundry detergent, oxy clean, bottles, sippy cups, etc. This may not be sounding like things that make for a fun vacation but we are on our own in a vacation rental for the week and these are the things we need. Anyway, eventually I started bagging these things up and putting them aside, cleared out a spot in the refigerator, put the cold items in a bag and stored them away in one place. I started a note to be left on the counter for a week of things not to forget.

When finished in the kitchen, I moved upstairs and started more piles: bed sheets and blankets, bath towels and beach towels. Then I moved onto the garage and gathered the sand toys, swimmies, flotation devices, bikes, helmets, etc. I also had my husband break out the car top carrier to reacquaint himself with it. Good thing we did that… only to find out that the new car we have this year has no roof rack and therefore no means with which to attach it. Good thing we figured this out now and not when tensions are high next weekend while packing the car.

Anyway, are you getting the picture? From there, you can imagine the way the rest of my day went. Between making and feeding the kids lunch and dinner, playing outside, naps and finally getting the kids to bed, I managed to pack both boys (ages 4 and 11 months) and leave enough for them to wear during the week before we leave. All I really had left to do at that point was pack myself for two trips (work in LA and vacation at the beach) which at that point seemed like the easy part. However, I was beat.. and decided to brag to my husband about how much I’d actually accomplished that day (which is unusual for me.. and he noticed), take a shower and get in bed. I’d finish the job monday morning before work.

Guess what…. I DID IT! I actually packed myself for both trips Monday morning. I still can’t believe it.. but it feels SO GOOD!

Did I forget something? Probably.Will I still be running around at the last minute before vacation? Of course, I will. Will we still get to the beach 3 hours later than we had planned? HECK YES!

But, it sure feels good at the moment and I may have learned a little something about planning ahead.

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