Our family recently flew for the first time as a party of three: two ADHD parents and a toddler. R. had a fabulous first plane ride thanks to our good travel habits and I was really impressed with everyone involved.

But — there’s always a but. You know the moment when you realize how quickly a situation could have turned from mildly inconvenient to critically overwhelming?

We’re all familiar with the latter. Our non-ADHD companions wonder at the minor setbacks we manage to transform into full-blown disasters.

I’d like to start a habit of sharing the positive side of this equation — our crisis averted moments, if you will.

On our return trip, the airline lost one of our bags. I forgot to ask how it ended up somewhere other than our baggage carousel, so the details of its journey from Orlando to Baltimore will remain a mystery.

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Here we stood, peering over the ledge, clearly at the brink of a meltdown. Our flight had landed just in time to get R. home for an on-time afternoon nap. Everyone was hungry and tired. The baggage attendant had left us to sit and wait patiently (ha!) while she looked into the situation. I kept thinking — and saying — “I just wish I knew what was going on.”

Then the attendant called me up to gather some identifying information about our bag, including the contents. I approached her desk carrying a battered copy of our packing list.

This moment was the tipping point. Despite having meticulously packed the suitcases myself the night before, I would never have remembered what was in there. I would, however, have had an anxiety attack about what might have been in there, or about the fact that I didn’t even know what was missing.

Instead, I calmly reviewed my list. I compared it to the items I had just seen in the other suitcase. I provided three unique items that would identify the contents of my bag. We left the airport feeling under control.

When we got home, I highlighted each item on the list as I unpacked it. The result: a complete inventory of the items we were missing, just in case the bag never turned up.

I use my packing list to keep calm while I’m packing up at either end of my trip, but its usefulness in the event of a lost bag had never crossed my mind.

If you’re placing your bags in anyone else’s care, do yourself a favor and use a detailed packing list that will double as an inventory if anything goes missing. As someone who is routinely embarrassed by memory problems, our list definitely saved my day.

What seemingly trivial item has saved your day lately?

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