Tag Archives: organisation

Travelling for control freaks

I posted ages ago about how I like to keep complete control over the contents of my handbag using pencil cases and mini versions of things (https://minimumthebare.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/handbags-for-control-freaks/) This started when I was on maternity leave and I still think it’s a brilliant way of doing things, especially as I no longer have a titchy small, cute and manageable baby, I have a marauding toddler who thinks nothing of wiping his lunch casually around the inside of my bag. Wipe clean pencil cases saved the day when that happened, believe me.

I do the same thing when I’m travelling. I don’t get to travel as much as I would like, but I do get to disappear from time to time on business trips to hot places, and stay up late in hotel bars drinking gin. It’s quite a change from being a mum, and I like it very much, whilst also feeling desperately homesick and wanting to see my son and have him shout ‘MUMMY!’ at me. So a slightly conflicted thing-I have weeks where my son won’t sleep and is under the weather and teething and I yearn for a break from it all, a break from nose wiping, soothing, collecting abandoned bits of toast, changing nappies and tracking down missing socks. Then a trip comes along and I can feel myself trying to relax on the plane, thinking ‘sleep, you can sleep for THIRTEEN HOURS and the only person who wakes you up will be a stewardess who wants to give you breakfast!’ but also working out exactly what my son will be doing at any given point of the day or night and feeling a gut wrenching sense of separation that I just wasn’t expecting to come with motherhood. Tough, this parenting business.

I’ve found the perfect suitcase for me-a Samsonite case http://www.samsonite.co.uk/suspension-upright-50cm-18inch-black/product-en.htm?or=8678693875 It’s hand luggage size for short European trips, and I can easily fit my laptop, three days clothing, my Kindle or tablet and airport security friendly toiletries and make up, and anything else I need for the trip (purse, small bag for evenings out). For long haul, it’s still hand luggage friendly (you’re usually allowed a case around this size plus a laptop bag or other handbag) so I pack my laptop separately with my Kindle and any other tech things I need, then up to five days clothing, toiletries etc in the case. Not having to wait for checked bags saves a huge amount of time, and I get competitive about travelling light, so finding the smallest versions of things/reducing the weight of my bag from trip to trip is weirdly satisfying. A couple of points worth mentioning: I don’t have to wear formal business attire, so clothing doesn’t take up much space (short sleeved silk tops/vest tops and cardigans on top, a pair of trousers and a skirt, in addition to the casual clothes I wear to travel in, with a spare pair of ballet flats in the case, a swimming costume and underwear. That’s it. If you are more interested in clothes/need to take three suits with you/have lots of formal dinners etc this is probably not the case for you). I also have no problem using hotel laundry services if I’m away for longer than I have clothes for, and am quite happy to buy extra stuff overseas if I need it (if I finish my mini pack of cleansing wipes/toothpaste/run out of knickers before the laundry is returned). I also never take chargers or adapters, as I can always find a spare charger for my phone or laptop in our offices, and hotels always have adapters you can borrow. And I very rarely buy gifts while I’m away, so I don’t need to have extra space available in my case for the trip home (don’t usually get much shopping time, and airport gifts seem a bit pointless).

So, shoes in first, then clothes arranged as flat as possible around them. My laptop goes on top of clothes if it’s a short trip, then I put all the other bits in pencil cases wherever they’ll fit, and my Kindle and phone go in the pocket at the front.

Make up: Travel pack face wipes, 4 x sachets of face wash and moisturiser from a magazine, cheapy Boots cucumber eye gel. Tiny pot (5ml?) with enough foundation for me to use it several times, concealer stick, mini eyeshadow, black mascara, eyebrow pencil, very thin flat pot of blusher and small blusher brush, lip balm

Medicines/emergencies: paracetemol, ibuprofen, sudafed tablets, Strepsils, immodium, senna tablets, Karvol, plasters, earplugs in a small case, antihistamine tablets (these knock me out on a long flight) single use twisty thing of saline solution, tampons x 2, mini tube of antibac gel, tea tree oil spot stick. No tweezers-they get confiscated…

Toiletries: mini Nivea deodorant spray, travel pack of baby wipes, magazine sachets of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and hand cream, Sainsburys basics toothbrush and mini tube of toothpaste, travel dental floss

Other bits: small flat purse with foreign currency, debit and credit card, passport, work pass, comb and small mirror, pack of mints.

And that’s it! It works for me-what are your travel essentials, and how do you prepare for business trips, whether home or away?

Handbags for control freaks

Control freaks in a good way, obviously. Because I’m one of them. And I have a handbag-well, I have a few different handbags, and I actually feel quite sick and panicky at the idea of leaving the house without all of the things I could possibly need to get through the day. Before I had a baby, I dealt with this quite badly, by basically buying giant, ugly bags and piling all the stuff I could think of into them. It met the requirement of not forgetting/being without things, but it made me feel scatty and I quite often had that thing of KNOWING something was in my bag somewhere, but it taking whole minutes to find. Not good.

So, having failed to use my maternity leave to do any of the things I planned (trip to the National Gallery, organise bookshelves, redecorate, learn how to make choux pastry hahahahaha) I decided that it was very important that I should get the handbag thing sorted out before I went back to work. Because I have something in my head that says mothers, as a group, should be organised people. I know it’s wrong, and it represents weirdy conditioning, and fathers should be just as together, but I’m not a father, I’m a mother, and I wanted to feel like I was actually in control of something in my life. It clearly wasn’t going to be my baby, so I thought my handbag would be a great start. And I was right, hurrah.

Handbags. I started by taking all the stuff out of my huge bag and seeing what I was actually carrying around. Quite a lot went straight into the bin, but the stuff that stayed generally fell into little groups of things-stuff for my hands, assorted tablets and medicines, make up, money and keys and bits. I bought a vast stack of clear plastic pencil cases from ebay, and each little set of things got its own pencil case, keeping it neatly together and visible with the added bonus of keeping it free of baby slime/sticky hands. I bought a new handbag for work (Scaramanga flight bag, I love it-room for my laptop and all the other stuff I cart around with me) which now contains all of these things in little pencil cases:

Hands Mini hand cream, nail file, orange stick, small bottle of clear polish or topcoat, tiny round pot with those all in one polish remover wipes

Essentials Phones, USB phone charger, debit card, house and car keys, work pass, £30 cash in notes, five pounds change in coins for car parks, comb and mini mirror

Medicines/emergencies (this one is very full, but has no more than four of each tablet or thing!) paracetemol, ibuprofen, sudafed, Strepsils, immodium, senna tablets, Karvol, Calpol sachets x 2, teething powder sachets x 2, plasters, earplugs in a small case, single use twisty thing of saline solution, tampons x 2, mini tube of antibac gel, tweezers, tea tree oil spot stick and probably a few other things I’ve forgotten!

Snacks Small bag of almonds, small bag of apricots, Nakd bar, Earl Grey teabags x 2, pack of chewing gum

Make up (worked this out as everything I’d need to repair my face if I ever cry at work) Travel pack face wipes, 2 x sachets of facial moisturiser from a magazine, cheapy Boots cucumber eye gel. Tiny pot (5ml?) with enough foundation for me to use it two or three times, concealer stick, mini eyeshadow, black mascara, eyebrow pencil, very thin flat pot of blusher and small blusher brush

Also Fully charged Kindle with lots of interesting things to read, and Organised Mum Family life planner book (this is brilliant-comes out and about with me, and then I have the family calendar on the wall at home, so EVERYTHING gets written down as soon as it’s agreed)

If I am going out for the evening, I can take the essentials and make up cases in a small bag. There are more cases for travel, but I think I’ll do those in another post as this one is quite long already. I like to think I have most things covered-what do you always carry around with you?

Back to work-I am ORGANISED

A whole post moaning about my boiler (now back on, thanks) and I forgot to mention the really terrifyingly well-organised thing about my haircut-once it was cut, blowdried and I had paid, I made appointments for all of my 2013 haircuts. Every single one. End of every other month-February, April, June, August, October and December. I don’t even have to think about it now, just go when it’s in my book. I would have done the same for eyebrow waxing and lash tints (same salon, different lady) but the beauty appointment book only goes up to the end of March, so I’ll have to wait till they have a new diary before I get that organised too.  As a massive (and quite busy) control freak, I’m feeling pretty good about having all haircuts sorted now-I got to choose the dates, times and stylist that suit me, rather than taking an appointment when they could fit me in. Sorted.

Yesterday was my first day back. It went well, the baby was a bit grumpy when I picked him up, but had had a lovely day without me. I felt very odd-like I was watching myself living my old life, where I got to to wear smart clothes without porridge on them and sit at a desk drinking hot cups of tea all day and hearing all the office gossip. My make up lasted all day, I had two car journeys without having to sing nursery rhymes the whole way and I have some interesting projects coming up. The baby shouted a bit, slept a lot, ate a banana and two pieces of toast and played with his stacking cups (morning) and crackly book and octopus toy (afternoon). I think we’ll get used to it soon enough-who knows, maybe he’ll actually smile at me when I collect him in future!