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It’s here! Summer has made its entrance! Can I hear a “woot woot” ?
The kids are out of school, the weather is warming up, and it’s just about time for summer vacation!
And while the kids may be super excited about their upcoming trip to the beach, an island, or theme park you’ve probably got something else on your mind before you head off…
Getting the house under control.
Womp Womp. I know, it’s definitely a buzz kill. But don’t worry, here’s a guide to prepare and organize your home before vacation without losing your mind before you head off. To keep things organized, let’s start with tasks you can do ahead of time and then move chronologically to last-minute tasks. Shall we?
As Soon As Possible
1-) Start now
Do you happen to be reading this in January and your vacation isn’t until July? Start now. Focus on getting your home decluttered and organized…do NOT worry about cleaning. After all, your toilet won’t stay clean for six months even if you never use it. Your bedroom, however, has a chance of staying neat if you work hard to keep it that way.
2-) Delay mail
I don’t know anyone who likes dealing with mail. And it’s definitely no fun to have your mailbox overflowing when you just come home from a fun and relaxing vacation! To minimize the torture, we always have the post office hold our mail until a day or so after we get back. Just let them know what dates you want them to hold it and they take care of the rest for you! We still get a lot of mail, but we have a moment to breathe before it’s right in front of our face.
3-) Arrange pet/house/baby sitters
If you need someone to keep an eye on pets, the house, or kids then it’s wise to ask them as soon as you can. This way they can plan for it and not have to rearrange their schedule just so Fido doesn’t get hangry. If you opt against having the post office delay your mail you can also ask the house sitter to take the mail in for you and leave it in a designated space.
Two Weeks Ahead
4-) Stock up on supplies
It’s time for the countdown! Now is the time to make sure you have everything ready for the house sitter. Stock up on food and medications for Fido, make sure the leash and toys are in a space that’s easy to access, and buy/rent plenty of things to do for any kids you’re leaving behind.
5-) Plan meals to use up consumables
Try not to plan any fancy meals that will create leftovers now. Instead, meal plan based on what you already have so there’s less waste. Bonus: less money spent on groceries = more money for vacation!
6-) Get your car in shape
If you’re driving to your destination, you’re going to want to make sure your car is in tip-top shape before you leave! Get your oil changed, put air in your tires, and top up on gas (depending on how much you drive, you may have to fill the gas again before you leave). And while getting it cleaned at the car wash is probably better left until after you get back (road trips have a tendency to make cars full of trash and crumbs), start clearing out any trash and clutter that has been building up so your ride is comfortable.
One Week Ahead
7-) Catch up on laundry and cleaning
I don’t know about you, but I do NOT like to come back from vacation to a home that’s got a lot of chores waiting for me. It just feels better to come home and not have to worry about anything more than getting back into routine. If you feel the same, then about a week before your vacation is the time to prioritize cleaning. And don’t forget to get the kids involved… they may be willing to help more than usual since they will be in an excited mood from all the anticipation! Or, if you just avoid cleaning altogether, you could consider hiring cleaners . They can get it all done in less than a day!
8- ) Give keys and important information to sitters
Now is a good time to remind anyone you’ve lined up as house sitters that your vacation is coming up. Make sure you give them a set of keys, emergency contact information, and any other important information (such as the code to your security system). It’s also a good idea to give them copies of your passport information if you’re traveling abroad (make copies for yourself too!).
The Night Before
9-) Close and lock windows
It’s almost time for your vacation! The day before you should consider any safety precautions you want to take such as closing and locking windows and sheds. If your sitter has small children tagging along with them you may also want to make sure that any chemicals and sharps are out of reach.
10-) Set the thermostat
Set your thermostat for a steady temperature or timer. For summer you may want to keep it warmer than usual so you aren’t paying to cool your house when you aren’t there. But please…don’t make it too warm if you have any living beings at home! Safety first!
11-) Run the food disposal
My husband once told me that his fraternity forgot to run the garbage disposal before everyone left for spring break, and the frat house reeked when they got back. So try not to forget this one once you’re done doing dishes! You can throw some baking soda down the garbage disposal too to help with any unpleasant smells.
12-) Run and empty dishwasher
If you want to come back from vacation to a dishwasher full of plates with crusty food on them, then by all means leave the dishwasher without running it before leaving. However, I bet you don’t want to have to manually scrub off yesterday’s oatmeal from the bowl after you get back from vacation! If so, I highly recommend running the dishwasher before you leave…and don’t put any dirty dishes in after!
We have a rule in our house…once the dishwasher is run the last time before we leave for any length of time (vacation, holidays, etc) we have to manually wash any additional dishes. If we have a full meal to eat at that point we normally just eat off paper plates, but that’s just because we’re lazy 😉 .
13-) Make your beds
Today’s the day! Time for the last minute to-do’s before heading off! Right after I wake up the morning of leaving for vacation I make sure I make my bed. It’s a small task for the super rewarding welcome home to your own fluffy bed!
14-) Turn off the water
Although only necessary for really long times away, turning off the water (especially to your toilets) can save money and hassle when you’re not there to take care of any issues. Just make sure you let any sitters know what you turn off!
15-) Unplug Electronics
Even though most of your electronics won’t be turned on while you’re away, they still draw a small amount of power. Why spend the money on electricity when you’re not there? Save your money and help ensure your home’s safety by unplugging your electronics right before you leave. Exception: leave anything plugged in that your sitters might use/need.
16-) Take out the trash
Always, always, always take any trash that’s in your home out on your way out the door! Seriously, if you thought a garbage disposal can smell bad, imagine what the trash itself can smell like! For completeness sake, it’s also a good idea to take out the trash from bedrooms, bathrooms, the laundry room, etc.
17-) Set the security system
If you have a security system, then setting it on your way out is probably habit already. But don’t forget it in your excitement! And as I mentioned before, make sure your sitters have the code if you use a security system so that the police don’t show up by mistake!
My husband and I have travelled a lot, but following these tips always ensures we feel good about leaving our home for any length of time. Hopefully they will help you too so you can have the best vacation ever!
What tips do you have for preparing your home before vacation? Comment below!
For even more cleaning and organizing advice head over to How to Get Organized: 9 Attitudes You Have to Change and The Scientific Reason You Should Ignore Cleaning Advice That Combines Vinegar and Baking Soda