Skip to content


Why Kids Should Pack Their Own Clothes

{This post may contain affiliate links (links for items which you may purchase) for which I might receive a small commission. Please see my disclosure page for more information}

Why Kids Should PackIt only took a couple of rounds of “Mom!  You forgot to pack my…!”  for me to decide that it was time for our kids to pack their own clothes for overnight trips.  Even though I didn’t “forget” to pack anything that was important by my “Mom Standards”, those missing items were certainly important by their standards!

The first few times that they had to pack for their own trips, I had them lay everything out on their beds so that I could be sure that all the essentials were present.  Things I found important like underwear, pants, and jackets were often missing.  Things like favorite shirts (all five of them!), and plenty of toys were usually present instead.  We would discuss “what ifs” to help them decide what they might need to be sure they covered any likely scenarios that might present themselves.

Now that they are both teenagers, they are pretty much on their own.  We have a Packing Checklist that they refer to, especially if they are packing for more than just an overnight stay.  I will also ask them if they are missing key articles of clothing that they might need in the event of a drastic change in the weather while they will be gone.

Have they forgotten things?  Oh yes, they have!  Have they lived to tell the tale in spite of it?  Yes, indeed!  Have they learned anything along the way?  Why yes!  That is actually the whole point.  Here are some things they learn when packing for themselves:

  • To think ahead.  What is the weather going to be like?  What kinds of activities will we be doing?  How long will we be gone?  Will my clothes get dirty or wet?
  • To make do.  I guess I’ll have to borrow ________ from someone.  Mom won’t like it, but I CAN wear that underwear twice!  I better not get these pants dirty, they’re the only ones I have!
  • To do better next time.  When I forgot that sweatshirt, I didn’t enjoy that chilly night-time activity.  It wasn’t any fun watching everyone else swim while I sat out because I forgot my swimsuit.  Um, yeah, I was the kid that wore the same shirt three days in a row!
  • To appreciate mom and dad more.  At least they remembered to pack the important things, and enough of them,  even if they forgot my favorite shirt.  They weren’t just trying to make me carry a bunch of extra stuff, they just wanted me to be prepared.  They really do care whether I have a nice time or not!

I admit, I have grabbed an extra sweatshirt, or double checked to be sure they have their swimsuit with them if I thought those were going to be key items that they would need.  But generally speaking, they do all their own packing!  We had one forget her sweatshirt for camp this year, and she won’t likely forget it next time!  A couple of years ago, our son forgot his pants for chapel time at camp.  He had to borrow a pair from his (smaller-sized) friend.  He too, has not forgotten that experience!

When kids are able to pick out their clothes each day, they are able to pack their own clothes with some help from mom and dad.  As they get a little older, give them a little more responsibility in this area.  If they are just going to stay overnight at Grandma and Grandpa’s, it’s not going to be critical if they forget something, let them pack their clothes on their own.

As a word of caution though, if you know there is one thing that is going to cause a meltdown if they forget it; or if they might forget something that is really going to make their trip miserable, make sure you run interference for them.  The goal is to help them get better at planning ahead, not to ruin their time away!

In the end, they are probably going to forget things.  They might even be uncomfortable if they do.   In the long run though, having your kids pack their own clothes is just another way for them to learn responsibility!