Why does the Torah say that Yakov placed his sons and wives on the camels before his wives?
Bereishis Rabah 74:5: We learn that a Chacham puts his sons first (Yakov married in order to have children - Gur Aryeh). A fool (Esav) puts his wives first (36:6; Esav married for lust). 1
Malbim: In four ways, Yakov made it appear that he does not flee, so people would assume that Lavan knows, so they need not tell him. (a) One who flees first sends his wealth stealthily, and then flees with his household. Yakov first put his family on the camels, and then sent his wealth with his slaves (verse 18). (b) He openly put them on the camels. (c) He took his Metaltelim; one who flees normally sells them beforehand. (d) He openly told people that he is going to his father Yitzchak in Eretz Kena'an.
Ha'Emek Davar: He put his sons first, for they were used to riding on camels, and afterwards his wives, due to fear (since they ride side saddle, for modesty, and are prone to fall. 2