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6 Perfect Packing Strategies My Husband Thinks Are Optional

Photograph by Twenty20

If your husband is anything like mine, he doesn't think too much about what he'll need for a day out with the kids. Sticky fingers? Just wipe your hands on your pants. No antibacterial gel? No problem! Germs are good. Bandaids just in case? Come on, kids, toughen up.

He never remembers to grab a pack of wipes. Ever.

It always makes me laugh when I compare the hulking, humongous bag I pack for a day out with my sons to what my husband thinks about bringing. Maybe I overpack. Then again, maybe my husband doesn't pack enough. You decide:

1. Leaving the house:

When my boys were newborns, I brought bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper cream, nursing cover, hand sanitizer, poopy diaper bags, burp cloths, muslin blankets, a few bibs, a changing pad and change of clothes. And just to be sure, I also needed to have on hand: bandaids, bacitracin, a change of clothes for myself, sunblock, empty Ziploc bags, tissues, extra toys, extra snacks, extra pacifiers and a teething ring. Even for a quick trip to the store.

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New dad, leaving the house:
A diaper (no wipes), and his phone to take adorable selfies.

2. Trip to the park:

Taking kids to the park is no walk in the park. (See what I did there?) I go prepared! I bring sunscreen, wipes, muslin blankets, juice boxes, three different types of snacks, water bottles and money for the ice cream man.

Dad's trip to the park:
Money for the ice cream man. If it drips? Wipe it on your pants.

3. For a day at the zoo:

It's a day trip, so lunches must be packed, snacks must be decided on ahead of time and maps will be printed. The app for the zoo will be downloaded, and nap times will be planned around the various shows and presentations. Plus the stroller, in case the kiddies get tired.

What my boys' Dad brings to the zoo:
Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Part of the fun is eating all of the fast food and snacks they sell. And if a kid gets tired? That's why dad's got a set of shoulders to climb on.

4. For a day on the sports field:

A day filled with soccer, softball or football, I would never consider appearing on the field without a folding chair, a blanket (to sit on or to use for warmth), extra sweatshirts for the kids, sunscreen, entertainment for the kid who's sitting out and watching the sibling play, and drinks and snacks for the entire team.

Dad's sports field must-haves:
A great attitude. That's all you really need.

5. For a day on the beach:

A day at the beach is no joke. When you've got kids, it requires military planning, so you need chairs, towels, sunscreen, extra towels, extra swimsuits, changes of clothes for post-beach, powder to remove the extra sand, waters, snacks, lunch, a tupperware filled with freshly cut fruit, hats, bug spray and a book to read in case the kids play quietly in the sand (bwah-ha-ha!).

Beach Dad:

My husband usually gets into the car and then, when we're halfway there, asks if I have sunscreen. But he does pack the trunk with the beach chairs and cooler filled with treats, and then lugs them to our spot for us. Of course, he always brings his trusty cell phone to snap cute shots of the kids while they splash around and I'm not reading.

6. For a day playing in the snow:

Listen, I'm not built for snow. Sure, I can get the kids dressed in their long underwear, sweatshirts, snowsuits, down jackets, gloves, snow boots, scarves and hats, but once I'm done with that, I'm generally too exhausted to venture outside. For me, it's 10 minutes tops, and then I'm going back inside to get the hot chocolate ready.

Dad's blizzard list:
All my husband needs is a single carrot to make a snow day the best day ever. He goes out with the kids, makes tunnels in the snow and orchestrates a grand snowball fight. He then builds a massive snowman, taller than both of my kids combined and has the kids help out. (And that cell phone he always remembers to bring? Comes in really handy just about now.) He builds a snowbank to create a giant snow slide down onto our driveway. And just when you think that's enough, he constructs a snow slide out in the front of the house, too. (And another snowman, because Dad.) And then, for the grand finale? Snow angels all around.

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As a mom and dad, my husband and I both have our chances to shine. Maybe all I actually need is a carrot and some imagination.

And wipes. We definitely need the wipes.

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