Never be caught out again! If you’re constantly zipping around with kids, then you need this list of essentials to make sure you’re prepared for every crazy adventure on the road. And before you say “where am I going to fit an extra 21 things in my car?” we assure you that most of these ideas are compact and can fit in your glovebox, under the passengers’ seat or an unused corner of your boot. And you’ll thank us when they come to your rescue. Trust us!
21 things every parent should have in their car.
1. Wipes & Tissues
It goes without saying – wipes are the greatest invention known to parents. Even when you’re well beyond the nappy years, you can use your wipes to clean up spills, take care of sticky fingers and food faces, sanitise toys, clean stains off clothes, wipe dirty noses and about a thousand other things.
Keep at least one spare in your car as well as your nappy bag, so you’re always covered. They can also be used to soak up spills in emergencies!
3. A change of clothes (especially undies)
Remember to replenish your supply when they get used (I’ve been caught out by that one). A spare top for you can be a clever addition too, for the days when the baby decides to eject their last meal on to your shoulder or the kids decide to use your t-shirt as a hand towel.
4. Snacks in re-sealable packaging
“I’m hungryyyyyyy!” is a perpetual backseat complaint. Keep a supply of healthy, shelf-stable snacks in your glove box in resealable packaging such as Mamee’s Little Monster Snacks for toddlers.
5. First aid kit
Buy a pre-packaged version from a reputable seller or assemble your own and make sure to keep it well stocked.
6. Car sickness bags
We pray it will never happen to you, but if you ever here “Muuuuum, I think I’m going to be sick” while you’re barreling down a four-lane highway, you’ll be so glad you have one of these within arms reach in the glove box.
7. Spare sun hats and sunscreen
Sun hats are notorious for getting lost, so keep a spare in your car along with a mini sunscreen roll-on.
8. Picnic blanket
You never know when you’ll make an impromptu park stop, so keep a picnic blanket in the boot and you’ll always have somewhere to sit.
If you’ve got a frisbee, you’ll always make a friend.
10. Umbrellas or ponchos
Cheap fold-up ponchos are compact and can be a great standby when you’re making the kinder run in the rain and there are no parking spots within a 10 minute radius.
11. Large ziploc bags
These all-purpose babies are perfect for sealing up wet clothes, rubbish or half-eaten food. I heart them.
12. ‘Busy bag’ games
Great for long drives or unscheduled waiting in doctor’s offices and medicare queues. Take a look at our roundup of DIY busy bag ideas that don’t take up much room.
Kids are drawn to water like moths to a flame. I can’t count the number times when we’ve gone to the park or beach ‘just for a walk’ …. aaaaaand three seconds later they’re soaking wet.
14. Hair elastics and clips
If you have little girls with long hair, a stash of these is essential. Like socks in the wash, hair elastics seem to disappear off to magic-hair-accessory-land, never to be seen again.
15. Water pop tops
“I’m thirrrrrsty!” … and you forgot their drink bottle. Keep a few packaged water pop-tops on hand for your forgetful days.
16. Plastic bags
Having a few recycled plastic supermarket bags on hand to take out the zillion wrappers, drink bottles, lone LEGO pieces, coffee cups and school notices that find themselves peppered all over the car at the end of each day will go a long way to keeping the car in some sort of order. Also great for muddy shoes and nappy explosions!
17. A roll of paper towel or a chamy
Mop up backseat spills, clean off dirty shoes with a roll of paper towel or keep a super-absorbent chamois in your glove box. Also make good lap placements for messy snacks.
18. Reusable shopping bags
If you’re always forgetting to take these to the supermarket, try storing them permanently in your boot – return them there as soon as the shopping is unpacked.
19. In-car phone charger
This is especially useful if your kids are prone to fishing your phone out of your bag and chewing up battery playing Angry Birds while you’re out and about.
20. Kids’ music
I’ve successfully weaned my child off kiddie music and on to normal music, which is fabulous. But when you’re on a long drive a burst of Hi-5 or Wiggles can be a great way to distract fighting or fussy kids and get them through the journey.
For you (not the kids) obviously. Stressful days and chasing toddlers around the park can leave you feeling less than fresh. Keep a travel-size deodorant in your car console. Just in case you run in to Ryan Gosling at the supermarket.