One of my favorite things about summer: the seemingly spontaneous things we get to do with our kids. Few things delight my son like the mornings I announce over breakfast that we’re going somewhere fun. Little does he know that I’ve already planned our trip and, thanks to some time spent early in the summer, I’ve just been waiting for the right day. You know, the day when hearing “I’m bored” gets to be boring itself. Prepare your car ready for some planned spontaneity and you’ll be able to nip those whines of “I’m bored” in the bud, too.
Start with a clean car: As soon as school’s out for the year, I like to thoroughly clean the car to get rid of the paperwork, sports or band gear and, yes, fast food wrappers that have piled up.
Plan for bad weather: Here in the Midwest, our weather changes in the blink of an eye, so it’s always good to plan for rain even when the forecast calls for a drought. I know this from (bad) experience! Keep a change of clothes for each child, and yourself, in a plastic bag in the trunk. Be sure to include an umbrella, along with a few extra plastic grocery store bags to hold wet clothes.
Plan for sunny weather: I have an old tote bag that I got as a freebie with a makeup purchase years ago. We call it “Mom’s Magic Bag” due to all the things I stash in there. Like: sunscreen (replaced annually), wet wipes, mosquito repellent, itch relief cream, a bottle of aspirin (for me), granola bars and a couple of bottles of water (both replaced regularly), a roll of quarters (for gum ball machines and other emergencies), some paper and colored pencils, stickers and a compass. With my Magic Bag I’m ready for just about anything from last-minute trips to the playground to Geocaching excursions.
Plan for pool time: We love playing in water, so I keep beach towels and a spare swimsuit for each of us. Rather than stuff them in the trunk, which gets crowded even in a minivan, I fold them together and slip them in a pillow case. It makes a great cushion to sit on while watching my son play with friends at the park, and a great pillow when he nods off on the way home. Plus, I have our swimming gear when I need it.
Plan for messes, big and small: I save all the paper napkins from fast food places in the console of my van, where I also have another bottle of water to use to clean sticky faces and hands. Also in the console: more plastic grocery bags to corral the trash that inevitably piles up when we’re on the go, and a couple of large trash bags for wet bottoms to sit on when we’re in a hurry getting home from the pool.
Keep in mind, I drive a mini-van with in-floor cargo storage. If you’re more the Mini Cooper kind, you may need to keep your activity bags in a closet and swap them out based on your activity for the day. What items do you consider essential to keep in your car for summer fun? Share your lists in the comments below!