Summer is thriving, even if the weather doesn’t always feel like it! We’ve gone from skin-melting hot days to goose-bumpy mornings and everything in between. Regardless of how the weather is behaving, one of our main goals for the summer is to allow for moments of unplanned fun and adventure.
I love this mentality because it means that we get to genuinely surprise our kiddos with an unexpected stop at a splash pad or a quick dash through a pet store to buy our new kitty a toy. Regardless of what we end up doing, I love the ability to switch plans at the last minute, and they love the fact that we’re out of our regular mundane school year schedule.
The only thing that I don’t love? Being unprepared. Because we can pivot so quickly from a quick run to the grocery to a hike through the woods, I’ve had to ensure that our car is always packed with items that I’ve deemed necessary for our summer survival. Some items are self-explanatory, so I won’t go into detail, but other items deserve a quick breakdown.
- Extra clothing, make sure that you include underwear and socks!
- Water shoes
- Water bottle(s)
- First aid kit
- Bug spray
Items that I want to chat more about:
Our kids at ages 6 and 4 have felt that they’ve outgrown their stroller, but I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been out, and they suddenly want to be carried or their legs mysteriously no longer work. That’s why we keep a wagon with us at all times, it either serves as a place to hold my many, many bags carrying most of what has been mentioned in this article, or it holds my bags plus the tiny humans who no longer want to walk.
Baggies for ‘treasures’
I’m big into reusable bags, but as a parent, I recognize the usefulness of having a bag of Ziploc bags for the treasures our kids inevitably pick up. Now I know what some may say, “take nothing but memories,” but have you ever tried to take a pinecone away from a child? There are many times when I can remind my kids about this rule, and they regretfully put the item back, but if they’re not in the right mindset, then I know the tantrum is not worth leaving behind one pinecone out of hundreds. To avoid mud, dirt, and bugs crawling out of their treasures, I grab a Ziploc back as soon as we’re back at the car and jam their treasure inside. If they remember it when we get home, it finds a new place in our backyard. If not, it inevitably stays in the car until our next car cleanout.
Clipboards with paper and markers/crayons
If we’re doing a last-minute child-led hike, I’ll grab the clipboards that are preloaded with paper and our pencil holder filled with markers and crayons. This gives my kids a chance to journal about what they’re seeing, or if they have a question I don’t know the answer to, rather than pull out my phone and get distracted by social media, we’ll write the question down so we can look up the answer together at the library or at home. I’ll also try to print out a few scavenger hunt challenges or other activities that we can do outdoors.
I don’t always promote specific brands because I believe you should find what works best for you, your budget, and your family; but dang it, I love this blanket! It makes it so easy to pack up because you can literally stuff it into the bag it comes with. It doesn’t get gritty with sand if you’re at a beach, it’s compact, and it washes well if any accidents occur. We never go anywhere without this thing, and it’s come with us to beaches, national parks, outdoor concerts, picnics, backyard reading sessions, and I’ve even used it to tan outside while working on my laptop. It’s phenomenal, and I’ll never stop singing its praises.
I really hope you got some helpful tips from this article! What items do you have in your car that I missed? Or do you have any other helpful tips that you could tell me about so we can share the knowledge and the love?