‘Why do you always get so stressed just before we go on holiday Mum?’ asks teenage daughter. ‘It makes everyone else stressed you know?’

‘I don’t really know darling,’ I reply through gritted teeth.

‘I mean, all we have to do is pack and then we’re off.’

‘Hmmm’ I reply and bite my tongue. Hard.

She’s right though. I do always get myself in a proper pickle before we leave the house and there is generally some kind of meltdown at departure minus one day that results in me losing my cool spectacularly. It happens every time.

It starts with the laundry. With a week to go I begin the pre-holiday warnings and pray for bad weather so that the holiday clothes can be spirited away without being missed. I ask and ask and when I am convinced that I have anything I wash, iron and congratulate myself on being ahead of schedule.

However my confidence is always misplaced. When the task of placing items into bags comes round, a major flaw in the plan is revealed. My idea of clean and my teenagers’ idea of clean do not coincide. As item after item comes out of the wardrobe pre-worn I get close to screaming pitch. After all, had I not asked for all this stuff so that I could get it all ready at my leisure?

Of course my children can’t see what I’m getting so aerated about. The clothes aren’t dirty as such. They are just worn. They can pack them and then wear them when we get there. This absolutely does not accord with my idea of how packing is done. I throw all offending items into a pile as big as a funeral pyre and shout a lot. More laundry undertaken with very bad grace and lots of stomping.

After the laundry comes the house. I want it to be tidy before we go and preferably clean so that on our return it feels good to be home. However as fast as I tidy at one end, the children are getting things out at the other. My suggestion that they sit in the garden with a book falls on deaf ears. Today they want to do painting, or Hama beads or dressing up and promise faithfully that they’ll put it all away afterwards. Is it any wonder I get myself so stressed?

My pre-holiday requirements are very simple. I just need an empty house for three days and all would be well. A pre-holiday holiday if you like. I need quiet so I can think through every possible scenario and then pack for it. I need to make lists of what will be happening in our absence and make sure its covered before we go. And most of all I need to clean the bathroom and not have anyone else use it!

Of course, I’m existing in cloud cuckoo land if I think I’ll get anywhere near my perfect packing environment. I have to work with what I’ve got – a houseful of excited children and a busy husband. So this year I’m going to beat them at their own game. I shall extract what needs washing myself. I shall take myself off to quiet corners and make lists in peace and I shall lighten up on the cleaning front because let’s face it, a lot of dust can settle in a fortnight.

Hopefully the net result will be that we will get to the airport without my relationship with the children being in tatters and I will be ready to start the challenging task of relaxing all the sooner.

(By the way oh loyal readers. My blog has its own Facebook page. Please ‘like’ it if you do. It’s at Imogen Clark at Home. Thank you.)