Parental essentials on the road

I got so many great questions after yesterday’s post on vehicle hacks for parents that I thought I’d go into a bit more detail today about some of the items I keep in our minivan. I’m one of those over-prepared people that always has a band-aid or a hair elastic: it’s a gift/curse.
So let’s get started …

I showed this essentials kit in yesterday’s post, and it’s probably the most important thing in my minivan. CPR kit (with a mask and gloves) in case I ever need to put my first-aid skillz into action + a couple of loose band-aids are the biggies, but the chapstick and Advil are also reallllly vital sometimes.

This all fits into a mini pencil case and I keep it in the driver’s side door (along with an extra baggie of my oh-so-awesome Lifesaver mints) so it’s always easy to grab.

Now, this next case wouldn’t be considered an “essential” for a lot of people, but it is for me. I keep a couple of small notebooks, different black pens and a few sketching pencils in a little pouch. 
This is fairly new because my old (terrible) method was leaving numerous notepads and pens in EVERY SINGLE BAG, EVER. This way, I can grab a single book or pen to throw in my purse if I expect to be sitting/waiting so I can write out lists, sketch upcoming project ideas and clothing designs, etc.

Now let’s take things into the backseat (oooooh!) and see what’s happening in the heart of the minivan.

One of my recent discoveries, which I mentioned in yesterday’s piece, is that I keep a bag of mini trash bags in the seatback pocket of each vehicle so we always have a fresh bag ready to go.

Each package was $1 each and they’ve been INVALUABLE for us, since we were accumulating a lot of garbage and often trucking around full grocery bags of trash, etc.

I also started tying the trash bag to the netting on the seatback pocket, rather than on the passenger armrest, so I can still reach it from the front without constantly looking at it. Also, it’s easier for the kids to put their trash in the bag since they pass it to exit the vehicle — and let’s face it, they’re the real pigs.

On the other side of the van (driver’s side), the seatback pocket holds the empty bags (ready to be used), a mini package of wipes (we don’t use many now that the kids are four and five), a pump of hand sanitizer and a mini package of tissues. All very important and therefore SUPER EASY TO GRAB.

Now remember that big yellow Bag O’ Crap from the top of the post? That’s where post of the stuff is, and I keep it tucked in the back of the van (technically the trunk, but you know it’s not *really* a trunk in a van).
Here’s what’s inside my Big Bad Bag of Car Crap … 
Various drugs (stored in an old Ibuprofen bottle), first aid kit with bug spray and AfterBite (never been used, but I seem to think we’ll use it at some point), a zippered pouch with extra kiddie underwear (not really an issue at these ages, but you never know) and socks for the kids (and me)  in case we hit up an indoor playplace during the bare-footed months. Oh, and toilet paper. My kid peed in the parking lot of Cleve’s less than seven days ago, and this would have been useful. 


Folder with a blank scribbler, colouring books, stickers and a fuzzy pencil case of crayons. (If this stuff looks familiar, it’s from the church bag I made a million years ago … when we were going to church regularly, whoops). 
I recently threw in this 20-question card game we’ve never played, just in case.  

Four bottles of water (Yes, I know — leaving plastic bottles in a hot car is bad. These are just emergency waters, and I’d rather drink possibly-icky water in an emergency than nothing), two juice boxes, a somewhat-crushed bag of Goldfish, two boxes of raisins, and a fold-up reusable shopping bag.

Four really tiny fold-up chairs in their own bags (bought for $4 each last summer at Carlton Cards, of all random places), back-up sunglasses for the kids and for me (although I always have my good ones in my bag, and the kids typically wear a pair out of the house in the summer), back-up hats for the kids (they will likely leave the house wearing a “good” hat daily during the summer, but these are beat-up back-ups), and one towel in case we find ourselves at a splash pad unexpectedly.
Oh, right — the centre console. I talked about this a bit yesterday, too, but here it is again. I put silicone muffin tin liners in the cupholders because they get so grody (crumbs, spilled Diet Coke, etc.) and are difficult to clean properly. I also keep a phone charger and car power adapter (useful for charging the kids’ LeapPads and the iPad, as well as my iPhone and iPod) in the centre console, along with my really ancient iPod (not pictured) and the cord that connects it to the stereo.*
*This van does not understand your fancy Bluetooth technology. It’s all about the cords. 
So that’s it! Other than license and registration in the glove-box (and yet another notebook and pen in there, too, in case of writing down accident details), that is EVERY SINGLE THING in our minivan. 
Am I missing something important? Is your mini packin’ something I should have, too? Let me know!

So what do you think?

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