This basket may not look like much, but it holds the key to my summer sanity.
Those extra socks and tattered old towels? On a philosophical level, they help me bridge the gap between the parent I am and the parent I want to be. More practically, they give me tools to clean up my kiddos after a routine trip to the park turns to mud-pie making or another such unexpected filth generator.
I first got the idea for a summer car kit from Martha Stewart. But as I am in neither her tax bracket nor her time of life, I don’t actually need to gear out my Subaru for spontaneous antiquing trips. Instead, I’ve tricked out my kit to address all the issues we encounter during day-tripping and errand-running. It’s like a diaper bag for the next stage of parenting.
When my kids have an awesome idea for spontaneous summer fun, I want to be the kind of mom who moves forward with an enthusiastic “yes!” And yet, so often I give a short-tempered “no” because I’m bogged down by all the logistics that would be involved. The adventure bag is one way I address that response. I stock the bag/basket to preemptively address all the issues I can anticipate while adventuring with my wild little ankle biters. The bag has always been regionally influenced (translation: our Pacific Northwest weather is… capricious). I also change what I stock according to the kids’ ages and stages (6 and 3 this summer, both chronically incapable of staying clean).
Here’s what’s currently in my car:
In my trunk, I keep…
- A full outfit for each child (underwear, bottoms, tops, socks, shoes, and hoodie)
- A blanket (perfect for picnics, warming up, creating shade and/or privacy)
- 1 or 2 towels (for drying off wet children and/or rain-drenched playground equipment)
- sunscreen (yes, I know it loses effectiveness in a hot car… but compromised sunscreen is better than none at all if I happened to forget at home!)
- at least one plastic bag, garbage bag, or re-purposed diaper wet bag (contain their dirty clothing after the filthy fun)
Up front, I keep…
- baby wipes and Kleenex in the drivers’ side door (I’m constantly addressing unexpected messes and snotty sneezes while driving)
- small bottles of water (I hate when the kids end up wasting water in a bigger bottle… I also try to remember their canteens, but these are around just in case I forget)
- non-perishable kid snacks (if the snacks are not prepackaged, I keep them in 4-oz mason jars with plastic lids. Again, I often try to pack a lunch but this is great for if I forget… or if an ostensibly short jaunt morphs into something unexpected.)
- sunglasses for the kids (being Pacific Northwesters, they’re somewhat vampire-like in their sun sensitivity…)
- an engaging book and/or small, inexpensive toy for each kid (keep in reserve for if they get super whiny)
That’s it on my end, though I’ve considered adding a Frisbee, soccer ball, or wiffle bat set for spontaneous trips to the park. The final step of creating a functional adventure bag is, of course, to make sure it stays stocked. If you use a snack or rotate out some clothes, be sure to replace the item as soon as possible! (This is hard for me. I can’t tell you how many times Little Bro has spent half the day in his much taller sister’s rolled-up pants because I didn’t restock his clothes…)
Thanks for reading, fellow parents and caregivers! I’d love to hear from you. What do you keep in your adventure bag?