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I’m a mum with TWO sets of twins – here’s how I cope with packing for holiday and the mistake all parents make

WE all love a summer holiday and the chance for a well-deserved break, but what's less fun is the work that goes into getting ready to go away.

From booking the time off, getting a pet-sitter to working out what to pack - holiday prep can be stressful.

Nina tackles holiday prep with two sets of twins - and as a result, can pack like a proCredit: Not known, clear with picture desk

Especially if you're a busy mum, like Nina Spencer.

The 41-year-old is mum to two sets of twins - aged 10 and four - and is also the founder of free group, The Chaotic Motherhood Tribe.

Thankfully, through plenty of experience and a lot of steep learning curves, she's learned the art of relatively 'stress-free' packing.

Here, she shares her top tips to preparing for your holiday, and the one mistake all parents make before they jet off on hols...

When Nina's family, pictured, go on holiday space is limited - so strategic planning is requiredCredit: Nina Spencer

Baby baggage

Nina first went away with all her children was when her youngest two were not yet one, and they travelled as a family group of seven.

She says: "Our first holiday with two sets of twins was actually an all-inclusive to Lanzarote, and we also took my stepson.

"One of the hardest things packing for babies is thinking about how many sets of clothes they need and what the weather may be like - do they need jumpers, coats,  a change of clothes for every day, nappies, and milk...

"On top of that you also want to make sure everyone has smart clothes for party nights, and that the kids actually want to wear them!"

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Laying everything out on the bed can be helpfulCredit: Getty

Panic over

Another important thing to remember is, whatever you don't take with you, you can generally just buy out there, so long as you remember the vital items - like passports.

Nina says: "We actually didn't take nappies for the whole trip, as we bought them over there. 

"We took four suitcases, one for my stepson who packed his own, one for my husband, one for the older twins to share, and then one for me and the smaller twins to share.

"We also took one bag of hand luggage each."

Back to basics

For Nina, the experience taught her a vital lesson, and made her realise the one mistake all parents make - overpacking.

Nina says: "I learnt to cut down on the amount of stuff that we take, honestly - you really don't need as much stuff as you think.  

"You really don't need 15 dresses and 12 pairs of shoes for a 7-day trip!"

Packing - a simple guide

Want a stress-free, simple guide to packing? Here, Ingrid Jansen and Lesley Spellman from The Declutter Hub Podcast provide their top tips...

  • A week before packing, start getting your laundry up to date so you have all your clothes available.
  • Use the opportunity to declutter kids’ clothing while you are packing. If they have outgrown something, it can go.
  • Always take a couple of empty carrier bags to put your dirty laundry into.
  • Rolling or folding your clothes helps you see and access what you have in your case, and avoids creasing.
  • Keep shoes in shape and save space by filling them with socks or underwear.

Next stop - stress city

Cutting down on how much you pack can really make all the difference, especially when travelling.

Nina says: "The most stressful part was transporting the amount of bags and a pushchair when the little twins were not yet one.

"Especially with getting through security - having to take off shoes and jackets, emptying bags of tech and batteries and any liquids while juggling the twin pushchair and four kids!"

Top tips

So what does Nina recommend to travel reasonably lightly and efficiently?

Nina says: "To save space in our cases we pack a spare change of clothes in hand luggage.

"We also take a limited amount of shoes, and rolling up clothes can really save space. 

"When we go on holiday we really are limited with space, with an eight-seater car and seven of us travelling there isn't much space to carry a lot of cases.

"Rolling clothes, packing travel-sized bottles, and limiting the number of things that we take is non-negotiable.

"Packing cubes are also a great idea, you can fit so many clothes in one and you can have one cube per person."

lugging the kids and all the luggage through the airport can be stressfulCredit: Getty

Holiday help

While it can often feel like it, try to also remember you aren't the only person responsible for packing, and delegate as much as you can.

Nina says: "My bigger two, now 10, get their own clothes out and I then vet them before it gets packed.   

"They are told the number of items they really need and what kind of things they might need for different activities.

"Even the little two help out with packing - I let them know how many pairs of underwear and socks they need, and then I will find an outfit for each day, with their help. 

"This can mean repeating outfits as I usually book somewhere with access to laundry or a washer, and pack each outfit together in a large ziplock bag or just roll them together.

"The best way we have found is to set the suitcases on the floor and lay everything we think we need on the bed.

"We even lay out the clothes we will travel in so we know they are ready. 

"I also pack a travel laundry bag - This is so handy to separate dirty things from clean."

The opportunity to spend precious time as a family makes the stress and effort all worth itCredit: Getty