I’ve learned quickly that you can’t just pack up the kids and go. If you plan to be traveling for more than 15 minutes, there are things you MUST keep on-hand in your vehicle to allow you to get somewhere all in one piece without your car and the kids getting there completely trashed. Here are the things I always have in my car simply because of the kids.
A hairbrush and a few pony tail holders. If you have 2 sisters side by side, a kicking fight and hair pulling will ensue, so having a brush handy to comb out girl fight hair is a must.
Wet wipes, toilet paper, tissues, and hand sanitizer. We can’t seem to go anywhere without someone needing to pee on the side of the road, or sneezing and blowing snot clean across their face. The added issue of booger wars makes the need for hand sanitizers and wet wipes a complete necessity, and tissues or napkins are just great to have on-hand for nearly anything.
A spare pair of clothing for the younger kids. I always have panties, socks, and shirts in the trunk of my car, because somebody is always jumping in the river, canal, or falling in mud. Towels are a great necessity as well and come in handy if somebody gets cold when the AC is on.
A portable DVD player with a car charger and a few fave DVDs. A huge lifesaver for trips longer than a half hour to drown out the “are we there yet?” shout outs every 5 seconds.
Children’s Tylenol and car sickness pills, along with a bottle of water. For that matter, just pack a full-on first aid kit along with plastic bags for puking. A lot can happen in tiny quarters when you’ve got 4 kids beating the crap out of each other and when you hear, “Ew, blood!” you’ve got it covered.
Plastic sacks are not just good for hurling kids, they make great garbage sacks to toss in all the junk the kids are eating to keep them pacified for a 12 minute drive.
Pillows. Always have pillows. Maybe this will urge the kids to sleep.
SOMETHING to eat. I always have a pack of gum or Lifesavers as a simple treat to keep the kids happy until we get there.
Blankets, just in case you end up needing them for a carsick or cold child. They also come in handy when you break down and completely forgot jackets for the kids so they’re not freezing in the car when the heater isn’t able to run. Blankets also come in handy for separating the kids from each other- just cram a blanket in between 2 fighters as a barrier to keep them from attacking each other- for a minute.
The most essential thing you should have in the car at all times is a roll of quarters. This way, you can quickly wash clothing at the laundromat if you’re traveling long distances and somebody peed their pants, quick change for vending machines and toy dispensers, and a quarter for those kid rides in front of Wal-Mart. You never know when a simple quarter will be the highlight of your kids’ lives and get them to shut up already.