When you have a baby you can basically fit everything your child will need to travel with in a diaper bag. Granted some diaper bags get rather large, but still, most everything you will need for taking your child in the car can be stuffed in that one bag. However, as your child grows and perhaps you have a second or third child you will find that your vehicle is not simply a mode of transportation but also a second home. And like in any home with kids there are certain things one has to have to maintain sanity. Too many times we have found ourselves in the car and inadequately prepared for what life with children throws at us. So, to help you avoid some of these predicaments, and to prepare you for the many hours you will spend in the car with your children, I have put together this survival list of must haves. Hopefully it will make your second home, the car, a little more tolerable for the kids and for you.
Snacks and Water. Your kids are going to get hungry. However, most of the time it won’t happen around regular family eating hours. To save trips home, having to stop at the gas station to buy over-priced snacks, or causing you to leave early from an event, having nonperishable snacks in the car is a must. Of course if they eat they are also going to want something to drink, so having some bottled water stashed away is a good idea as well.
Baby Wipes. Kids will get dirty. They will spill food, dig in dirt, color on themselves, pet strange animals and touch places that thousands of other little germ infested hands have also touched. Having wipes is a must for these situations, especially if you are going to let them dig into the snacks you brought along. Also, and I am not sure how this happens, but between the time you leave the house and the time you get to where you are going your child will mysteriously end up with something on his or her face. You will swear it wasn’t there when you left the house but you certainly want to clean them up before taking them in the relative’s house, school or even the store.
Toys. Kids get bored in the car. When they get bored, you pay the price. It is always a good idea to have some car only toys or games tucked under the seat to keep them occupied. Avoid taking toys back and forth from the house to the car though. This will eventually lead to toys being lost or forgotten causing additional stress for you.
Batteries. Toys need batteries. Whether it is the toy they have had for years, the present from Grandma’s house or the new toy you just bought because they whined so much you gave in, most toys now days require batteries. Your best bet is to keep a few various sizes handy in the car because if the toy runs out while you are in the car your child will not be satisfied until they are replaced.
Tool kit (including tape). Something your child can’t live without is going to break. In addition, the toys we discussed previously all have screws that need to be taken out so that you can get to the batteries and replace them. So again, having a tool kit is just another way to ease your own pain and suffering.
Change of clothes. Your child will get dirty and so will his or her clothes. They will get dirty, and wet, and stinky. Your kids will also get hot, cold, want to go in the sand or the water or wherever else they can go that they aren’t appropriately dressed for. At the very least you need a change of clothes for your child that is appropriate to the season of the year that you are in.
Umbrella. This is pretty self-explanatory but if you don’t plan ahead you will find yourself needing it more than ever.
Phone charger and phone book. Once you have children you are always on the go. Often times you are so busy that you can forget even the simplest of tasks, like plugging in your cell phone. Therefore, it is imperative to have a phone charger in your car because sooner or later you will need your phone and it will be out of juice. Also, if you have a small phonebook to place in your car it is a good idea to do so. You never know when you will need to find an address or number of a classmate, locate a store or rummage sale, or even place that all important pizza order for dinner that night.
Kleenex/paper towels. Noses run and snot happens. Plus, stuff will spill, leak, tip over and be found in strange places which need to be cleaned. Having these cleaner-uppers is a good idea.
First aid kit. There will be scratches and bites. Things will be pinched, cut and scraped. Having band aids and some disinfecting spray will be an asset. It is also a wise choice to include bug spray and sun screen in your kit. You won’t believe how many times you will find yourself wishing you had these.
(Bonus item) Something for you to do. Perhaps it will be a book, some crossword puzzles or even a pocket video game, but you need to have something in the car for yourself to do. You are going to find yourself in the car waiting. It might be in the school parking lot, outside of someone’s home or even the grocery store, but you will be in the car waiting. In any case, you will get bored too so having something you can do is just as important as having something for the kids.
So there you have it. You and your children will spend a lot of time in the car together. For your own sanity it is best to be as prepared as you possibly can be for all those bumps in the road life with kids will have for you. By planning ahead and placing these items in your vehicle you will surely cut down on your child’s anxieties, tantrums, and frustrations which will in turn reduce your stress and frustration as well. Have a safe trip and try and enjoy the ride.