The Anatomy of The First 12 Hours Post-Vacation

posted in: Humor, Life 78 comments

Elbert Hubbard quote

Midnight: Ragtag family tumble into musty-smelling apartment. Children are far too hyper for this hour. Children are really, really happy to be home. 

12.05 am: Open one bag and give up because, too tired. Children are still running rampant.

12.10 am: Pick self up off floor, grab clean PJs for kids and not bother with cleaning of either (sticky) child. Put clean PJs on children (who are eating Cheez-Its).

12.12 am: Strip oldest child’s bed and change sheets. 

12.15 am: Palm oldest off to husband to put to bed. Drink a load of water. Smallest still running around like a ball of energy.

12.20 am: Get into bathroom while husband handles the toddler. Cannot find facial products as they’re in suitcase somewhere, so make do with soap and water. 

12.22 am: Have to drag dead legs walk to living room to get clean nursing bra. Note to self: either buy more nursing bras or wean the child. 

12.23 am: Shower, finally. 

12.24 am: Stupid drain in shower is clogged. Thoughts of long hot shower shelved. Unless willing to risk flood in bathroom.

12.25 am: Dry off, change. Crawl Walk slowly to bedroom. Nurse toddler. Sleep.

12.25 – 6.59 am: Wake up at least twice to nurse toddler. Really need to wean this child. And sleep train. Again.

7.00 am: Wake up, still tired. Why is the sun up already? Toddler stirs. Try not to move. Toddler wakes up anyway. Lie in bed thinking that it’s good to be home.

7.05 am: Get up. Stick child into crib with books, while I shower. He’s not happy. 

7.10 am: Littlest and I go into living room. See unpacked bags. Sigh loudly. Start putting random things away. 

7.12 am: Toddler has made a mess in the kitchen. Clean up. 

7.15 am: Resume putting things away. Find dirty clothes in random places in all four unpacked bags. 

7.18 am: Do first load of laundry.

7.20 am: Give toddler breakfast.

7.25 am: Unpack my bag. Realize I left a pair of jeans in Australia. Fuck. 

7.35 am: Open the kids’ bag. Close kids’ bag.

7.36 am: Open husband’s bag. Find my laptop. Search for 10 freaking minutes everywhere for laptop charger, to no avail.

7.48 am: Oldest wakes up. Give him some food. The kids play. The great thing about vacation is that when they come home, all their toys seem new to them. Watch them for a few minutes, enjoying the sight of them playing together happily and noisily.

8.00 am: Husband wakes up. Husband makes coffee. I am grateful.

8.01 am: Check email and Facebook. Ignore shit lying around everywhere. Children still playing together. Vacation has brought them closer. How awesome is that?

8.45 am: Change kids. Still ignoring unpacked bags. Throw first load of washed clean clothes into dryer. 

8.50 am: Take kids to their grandparents place. Watch their grandmother scoop them up with joy. 

8.55 am: Head off to breakfast with the husband, marveling at the fact that we are just-the-two-of-us for the first time in nearly two weeks. Feel no guilt.

9.10 am: Leisurely breakfast (OMG!).

9.45 am: Stroll into grocery store to pick up a few things.

10.15 am: Get home. It’s quiet. And unpacked bags are calling. Suddenly productive. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the 3 cups of coffee I’ve already consumed. 

10.18 am: Strip bed and crib. Second load of laundry. Change sheets. Fold first load of laundry. Unpack all the bags. Put allthethings away. 

11.20 am: Put second load of laundry into dryer. Start third (and final) load of laundry. Look at clothes to be ironed. Contemplate ironing for about 2 seconds. Shelf stupid ironing idea.

11.25 am: SIT DOWN. Do some quick work catch up. Fart around on Facebook. Write this post.

What’s the first thing you do when you get home from vacation? Unpack? Clean? Do laundry? Nothing?


Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • September 16, 2013 Allie

    Hooray to being home!! I love when the kids play nicely together and are so excited to see the toys they have missed – that is the best!! I always unpack and do laundry first. I just feel like I need everything to be organized immediately. It’s annoying. Glad you got that breakfast in and alone time is a MUST! Welcome home.
    Allie recently wrote…VITA-MERICAL or My Blog CommercialMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      I would normally put things away and do laundry straightaway too – if it wasn’t midnight πŸ™‚

  • September 16, 2013 Jenn

    We drop bags, feed kids, shower and go to bed. Then the bags usually remain in the spot where we dropped them (near the washer/dryer) until laundry is done. A week or so later they’re finally put away.

    Needing a vacation after a vacation is no joke. Welcome home!
    Jenn recently wrote…I Advocate for a World Without SuicideMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Jenn! It’s good to be home.

  • September 16, 2013 Tracie

    The first thing I do is always nothing. Everything else can wait until the day after I get home from vacation. Or maybe even the day after that.
    Tracie recently wrote…The Nothingness Of GriefMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      You are a chill girl! πŸ™‚

  • September 16, 2013 seventiesbaby

    It’s been a LONG time since I’ve been on holiday but depending on the time we get home I either make a coffee, have a shower, open all the windows or go to bed…. and sometimes all of them in random order! I have learned, the very hard way, to always try to have fresh sheets on all the beds before we leave for our holiday [with fresh pjs ready too]. It makes SUCH a difference to come home to that! I open all the bags up on the lounge room floor and they stay there until everything is washed which usually takes daaaaaays. But it’s worth it… right?

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      It gets really dusty here so I briefly contemplated changing the sheets before we headed off. But it was a 11-day trip and I was worried about the sheets getting dusty and dirty while we were away, and I’d have to change them anyway. πŸ™‚

  • September 16, 2013 Kerstin

    I’ve missed you! Glad you had a great time and I know how great it feels to come home. Over the years I have definitely learned to relax about putting allthethings away immediately, but my husband can’t quite shed his Germanness yet, so that’s what we do, no matter what time of day we get home.
    After our first trip in Canada, when my son was 7 years old (we had to go to some immigration medial which was quite far away), he said upon seeing our house: “Home sweet home. Finally we made it.” – So every time we go away, that’s what we say when we come back home πŸ˜‰
    Kerstin recently wrote…High NoteMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      That’s a good saying!
      It did bug me that our bags were unpacked and strewn everywhere but it was too late and I was too tired πŸ™‚

  • September 16, 2013 Nicole

    Welcome home! That quote is SO true!! I’m always amazed at how exhausting it is to come home from a trip. We usually try to plan in at least one buffer day before we have to go back to work so we can restock the fridge, tackle the massive mountain of laundry, recover from any jet lag, and just sit for a few moments before starting the craziness of life again!
    Nicole recently wrote…Kavu Sydney Satchel Review & GiveawayMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      We did have a buffer – Monday was a public holiday so we I did manage to do all the laundry that day, and everyone just chilled out before work/ school resumed. And thank you!

  • September 16, 2013 Vikki

    This felt so familiar. We’ve done this dance as well.
    Vikki recently wrote…Kids Are Funny – Part 2My Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      Don’t you wish there was an unpacking/ cleaning fairy?

  • September 16, 2013 AlwaysARedhead

    If it is late at night, I pile things in the kitchen, throw dirty clothes in laundry room and shut the door. Ignore that I need a shower very badly and go to bed.

    If we arrive home during daylight, I pile things in the kitchen, throw dirty clothes in laundry room and shut the door, sit down have a drink (club soda) and turn on laptop. Ignore everything and rest while I check email, facebook, twitter, etc.

    P.S. Awesome post.
    AlwaysARedhead recently wrote…Do you know where your underpants are?My Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      I like that you relax first. πŸ™‚
      And thank you.

  • September 16, 2013 Jen

    That is the best quote ever, and SO true. I can’t tell you how I almost dread vacations as they are a TON of work. So glad you are back!
    Jen recently wrote…Halloween Cupcake IdeasMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Jennifer!

  • September 16, 2013 Jessica Smock

    I’m so glad that you’re back! Vacationing with small children is never actually a vacation. We actually only went away for a few long weekends this summer, but each time I needed about a week to recover from the trauma.
    Jessica Smock recently wrote…The Madness of College Admissions Revealed: Early Decision by Lacy CrawfordMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      The boys were actually really good, though the flight was no easy task πŸ™‚ But yes, good to be back!

  • September 16, 2013 Robin

    Ha! (And I’m amazed you changed the oldest’s bed. That’s not the first thing I do!) πŸ˜‰

    Lately I’ve been trying to unpack as soon as we get home, otherwise it sits there for two weeks. But I probably wouldn’t if we got home at midnight!

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      I had to change the sheets because of his dust mite allergy πŸ™‚

      I try to unpack ASAP too – if it hadn’t been midnight. Heh.

  • September 16, 2013 julie gardner

    Oh my goodness. Suddenly I’m glad I’ve had only one week-long vacation in twelve years.
    This after-vacation routine sounds exhausting.

    But I know you had a great time ~ and if you’ve learned to leave the ironing alone?
    Totally worth it.


    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      I left it alone for 4 days – WIN!

  • September 16, 2013 ilene

    I hear that about the kids being revved up at that late hour when you get home from vacation! That happens all the time in my house! I could feel you dragging though. I’m always too tired to do much of anything the first 12 hours we’re home. I’m impressed about the linens! Anyway, welcome back!
    ilene recently wrote…TangledMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      I had to do the linens, it’d have bothered me too much otherwise πŸ™‚

  • September 16, 2013 JDaniel4's Mom

    I tend to unpack everything right when we get in the door. It can make a late night, but I love to know the dirty clothes are in the laundry and the suitcases are tucked away.
    JDaniel4’s Mom recently wrote…{Bloggers Go Orange} Moms Fighting HungerMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      I’m actually the same way. Though it had been a REALLY long day, so not doable. Also, my husband wouldn’t let me. πŸ™‚

  • September 16, 2013 Tamara

    Yup, yup – this was me yesterday. The first thing I did – even though there were diapers to change, and meals to make, was unpack. I have a neurosis about doing it fast. And last night was a disaster. We found Scarlet in our bed this morning. It was snuggly but we’re going to need a bigger bed, if it keeps up.
    Tamara recently wrote…Safe and Sound.My Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      Me too. Hence the first 12 hours. It would have been immediate if we’d arrived home in the day time. But my husband wouldn’t let me. πŸ™‚

  • September 16, 2013 Julia

    Oh my goodness, I so get this. Vacations are exhausting. We went out of town for 9 days and then jumped right into throwing a birthday party and starting school. Because I am crazy. And still not caught up from vacation (we’ve been back for a week.)
    I’m so glad you had a good vacation and I hope life can settle for you soon! xo

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      Oh my gosh, that IS crazy!

  • September 17, 2013 Christine

    Those first 12 hours post-vacation are painful, especially when you return late at night. The best is how happy and excited the kids are to be home and getting reacquainted with their things. Love that vacation brought them closer together. For me, I have to unpack right away. Drives me crazy otherwise!
    Christine recently wrote…Life Jacket RequiredMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      That’s me too. Usually. But midnight. πŸ˜‰

  • September 17, 2013 sarah reinhart

    glad you’re back at home and slowly but surely getting allthethings done. I smiled when I read that vacation brought the boys closer. What a great little after effect.

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      An effect I hope lasts long-term. πŸ™‚

  • September 17, 2013 Stevie

    Actually I applaud you for doing laundry and unpacking within the first 12 hours. My typical pattern is to leave them fully packed in the corner of bedroom or even the entry way for at least a few days. Or until I have guests coming over and I don’t want them to know what a terrible housekeeper I am.
    Stevie recently wrote…Don’t Mind If I Drool: The Story of a Rescue Dog Part TwoMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      I couldn’t do that – my OCD would drive me (and my family) batty πŸ˜‰

  • September 17, 2013 Nina

    Love the play by play! And welcome back!
    Nina recently wrote…Why Couple Friends MatterMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Nina!

  • September 17, 2013 Gin

    I usually dig out the bathroom stuff and go dump it on the bathroom counter first thing. Then I go sit on the sofa and mouth-breathe for awhile before I open my laptop and begin catching up on email and perusing Facebook. After that, we contemplate just what we’re picking up/ordering for dinner if we made it home before the middle of the night.

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      Sounds like a good way to settle in. πŸ™‚

  • September 17, 2013 Kim

    I love that quote – it totally says it all. Because laundry. That is the first and the most time consuming thing I do when I get home from away.
    I smiled at your description of your bags. The going-on-vacation bags are always so much more orderly, aren’t they? Coming home, it is just put anything anywhere and we’ll sort it out on the other end. πŸ™‚
    Kim recently wrote…Defying GravityMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      Yes, more or less! πŸ™‚

  • September 17, 2013 Natalie

    Oh girl I agree…unpacking and finding things is the worst!
    Natalie recently wrote…12 Months and Growing…My Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      Right? I want an unpacking fairy!

  • September 17, 2013 Shefali

    Yay for all the toys seeming new. I love it when the baby is all excited about the same ol toys, only now she thinks they are exciting. Welcome back home-to the clogged shower, to the loads of laundry and to the crazy unpacking.. wait maybe you do need another vacation πŸ™‚
    Shefali recently wrote…Losing my shit!My Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      Hah! I sure do. πŸ™‚

  • Welcome back!
    I’ve seriously considered vacationing at a nudist colony just to avoid all the post-holiday laundry…
    Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes recently wrote…On bruised fingers and Blackberry muffinsMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      Hah! That would be awkward, with the kids and all. Heh.

  • September 17, 2013 Kimberly

    Make love to the shower head because there is nothing like having a shower in your own shower. Shower. Shower…how many times can I type that hee hee.
    Then I tackle the laundry because I hate smell.
    And there is always something that gets stuffed somewhere that you can’t find…and panic about. Shower
    Kimberly recently wrote…It Probably Wasn’t A Good Hair Day For That HikerMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      I did manage to get somewhat clean in that one minute before the damn drain overflowed.

  • September 17, 2013 Keely

    Why does the laundry always multiply on the way home from a trip? Boo for losing jeans. YAY FOR QUIET BREAKFAST, WHAT?!?
    Keely recently wrote…Cottonelle Clean Routine, AKA She’s Talking About THAT?My Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      The loss of said jeans still hurt, a little. Le sigh.

  • September 17, 2013 tracy

    Welcome home! I freak out from the laundry when we get home. #allthelaundry
    tracy recently wrote…Finally An Answer To All Of Their QuestionsMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      It took 3 loads. Just 3 loads. Sigh.

  • September 18, 2013 Arnebya

    So, um, yeah. It wasn’t a vacation, but I did use a bag. That bag, from BlogHer in July? STILL ON THE BEDROOM FLOOR. Sigh. It’s empty at least. I’ma need you to recover those jeans.
    Arnebya recently wrote…Consequences of Sex Between Teachers and Students Are Intentional and NecessaryMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      I wish I could recover them jeans. They were good jeans. With a stretchy waistband. SIGH.

  • September 18, 2013 Carolyn Y

    I actually relax and then the next day, go at it. All of it. I’m Type A πŸ™‚
    Carolyn Y recently wrote…Butternut Mac and Cheese #PintestedMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      Same here! πŸ™‚

  • September 18, 2013 Ashlee

    That quote is hilarious and couldn’t be more true!
    Ashlee recently wrote…The “Mine” Phase Has BegunMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      Right? It took me 3 days to recover.

  • September 18, 2013 Leah

    Glad you are home safe and sound! I also need to unpack. Recently we have been staying in places where I have access to a washer and dryer, and believe it or not, I have done my laundry BEFORE we leave and repacked it all to come home and just put it away. Yes, it takes away a bit from my last day – BUT, I am way less stressed when I come home:)
    Leah recently wrote…Sharing Our Story Part 2My Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      We had a washer/ dryer too, thank goodness! I did manage to do a final load the night before we left, but still had a bunch of clothes at home, the ones we wore to travel, and all the linens to wash. And towels. It never ends, does it?

  • September 18, 2013 Dude Mom

    It literally takes me weeks to fully unpack from vacation. I am horrible that way. Welcome back!
    Dude Mom recently wrote…Wordful Wednesday. He Can See!My Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      That would drive me crazy! πŸ™‚ Thank you.

  • September 18, 2013 Andrea

    Likes: kids closer after vacation, grandparents, leisurely breakfasts with hubby.

    Dislikes: getting to bed too late and up too early and all.that.unpacking.

    Welcome home!

    PS I unpack everything, go through mail, listen to voice mail, and do laundry immediately. Don’t hate me.
    Andrea recently wrote…Blog Roll, Part 1: Most Artistic and Class ClownsMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      I don’t hate you, quite the contrary!
      I’m usually very anal about unpacking, doing laundry and cleaning the house. But now with two kids, and getting home so late, my husband wouldn’t allow it. He practically forced me to go to bed. πŸ™‚

  • September 18, 2013 Lady Jennie

    Home from vacations are a nightmare. Thank goodness you have in-laws nearby!!
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…Peace Like a RiverMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      I’m glad too! It would have taken me twice as long to get everything done (with no leisurely breakfasting) if we didn’t leave the boys with their grandparents.

  • September 19, 2013 PNG

    I am so exhausted of reading your post that I cannot even think of an answer to your question πŸ™‚ Maybe because it all sounds so much like our chaos. Toddler weaning is definitely on my list as well… Why does one always push it further and further?
    PNG recently wrote…Extreme humorMy Profile

    • September 22, 2013 Alison

      I don’t know! In my case, it’s probably because I know it’d be tough. My toddler loves nursing far too much. Sigh.

  • September 20, 2013 Maureen

    I wouldn’t do anything after a vacation – I need a post vacay recovery day hah! πŸ˜€

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      That’s totally understandable. πŸ™‚

  • September 24, 2013 Mirjam

    I hope you had a wonderful vacation, Alison.
    Ehm, I’m a little ashamed to say, but when I get back from vacation, I immediately start unpacking like a crazy person. Right after I do a happy dance that I’m home again.
    Mirjam recently wrote…My life is a sitcomMy Profile

    • September 24, 2013 Alison

      Don’t be ashamed! That’s exactly what I would have done if it wasn’t the middle of the night. πŸ™‚

  • October 11, 2013 Runnermom-jen

    Ha! This cracked me up. I hate coming back from vacation, I seriously need a couple of days to recover. And I hate looking at the unpacked bags…gets me twitchy πŸ˜‰
    P.S. Thank goodness for coffee!! It makes everything better!
    Runnermom-jen recently wrote…I’m Back!My Profile

    • October 12, 2013 Alison

      COFFEE. Amen. πŸ™‚

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