Sunday, March 15, 2015

Packing for an Away Swim Meet: Does it Ever Get Easier?

After years of packing for away swim meets, I’m intrigued that it never gets any faster. I have learned how to streamline the process, but it still seems to take a big chunk of time to get everything ready. To simplify the routine, I’ve broken it down into the following steps:

1.       Food. This includes preparing and freezing nutritious food in advance (see my recipe for Spaghetti and Meatball Casserole) and packing a supply of healthy snacks for us all. The amount and variety of food that I take along has been scaled down drastically over the years. And I no longer take kitchen appliances. (Yep, from waffle irons to microwaves, I’ve done it.) Since this is something that can be done in advance, it is usually the first task I tackle.
Fresh fruit hits the spot when craving a healthy snack.
2.       Equipment. Even though I keep a family swim meet bag stocked and ready to go (Swim Parent Survival Kit), there are still last minute tasks that need to be done. These include printing out the reservation information (I’m sure there is an app for that) and charging video/camera equipment. Some items need to be replenished (like headache medication and chocolate). I typically do this between loads of laundry, which brings me to…

3.       Laundry. At least two days out, I do the laundry because it makes it easier to pack when clothes can go straight from the dryer to the suitcase. Of course, the beach towels that have been hung in the garage to air dry between practices are stiff as a board and need a good wash too.

4.       Packing. Fortunately, the only clothes packing I do is for myself. Swim Boy and Swim Hubby do their own. For awhile, I had “swim meet uniforms,” meaning the same three pairs of capris or shorts, five interchangeable shirts, two pairs of comfortable shoes, and a jacket. But after a few dozen meets, even the most practical clothing begins to look a bit tired. So this week it took more time to dig through the closet and dresser drawers to find something, well, different. Notice I did not say “fashionable.” Everyone knows that swim meets require comfort over fashion. (Check out my Pinterest board Swim Mom Attire.)

Dressing for meets can be tricky. The temperature outside as compared to the heat and humidity inside a pool can vary dramatically. Colder temperatures require dressing in layers to get to the pool and then peeling them off as the meet goes on. There is also the strange affect that swim meets have on my internal body temperature. When Swim Boy gets on the blocks, I may be sweating profusely or shivering with cold and it has nothing to do with the temperature inside the pool.
5.       Work. I’m fortunate to do much of my work from home. This requires packing up laptops, files, and books when traveling to meets. Technology has made this process much easier. I actually get a lot more work done at meets due to all that time stuck in a hotel room or lobby.

6.       Entertainment. This is the last item on my list. I may grab a magazine or catalog as I walk out the door.

I am very interested in hearing about other swim parents’ experiences preparing for away meets. Please share your tips or challenges!
P.S. Remember to call the cat sitter!


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