We have such a busy summer planned, and I have been trying to brainstorm ways to make it easier on all of us, especially me, the designated family taxi-driver. I have spent a lot of time lately waxing nostalgic about the days when the kids had one or two weeks of day camp in the summer (if that) and the rest of the time was ours. I would like to go back in time and tell my former self to appreciate those totally unscheduled days, to savor all those empty squares on the calendar. I would insert a photo of our summer calendar here, but I can’t bear to turn the page to July. It terrifies me, quite frankly.
I like for us to have a lot of time at home, for the kids to be able to just hang out, go in the pool, play games, stop by the library, go to the lake, read in the yard, or have friends over without planning weeks in advance. I like to have time to work in the garden, hang out with the kids, and prepare for our new school year. I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around a summer that seems like it is going to be mostly spent in the car ferrying kids to one thing or another. And yet, that is the season I am in right now, and while I do my fair share of complaining (mostly in my head), I see much value in the activities they have chosen. And it’s nothing new really, just more of the same, and more in-depth. Counselor-in-training, tennis clinics, horse shows, summer practices…oh my, the summer practices, especially for my soon-to-be competitive gymnast! If I think about it too long it makes my head spin, especially taking into consideration that not one single thing is closer than 25 minutes away.
So, I have been brainstorming ways to ease the load a bit and keep this summer from disappearing in a haze of driving. We might not have many lazy days at home, but we will have lots of little moments here and there when a sibling is not quite ready to be picked up, when we get somewhere early, or when practice is running late. It’s for those sorts of times that I made up my summer bag to keep in the car.
I found this large tote bag with lots of outside pockets at L.L. Bean. It’s sturdy and stands up by itself, which I love, because it is super easy to pack. The plan is to keep it stocked with things to make our driving trips easier and more fun.
First of all, this bag has lots and lots of pockets, which I love. Pockets are key; I have a big tote bag with no pockets that I thought about using for my car bag, but I really hate spending tons of time digging through a big bag looking for a tube of sunscreen. There are some small pockets on the inside….
And then the whole outside is lined with deep pockets.
The pockets go all the way around the bag, and I have things stashed in every one of them.
Here’s what I have decided to keep in my summer bag:
In the main compartment:
- A large blanket – to use at the beach, on a picnic, or just to spread on the grass at the park to play games or read on
- A couple of towels – for drying off after impromptu wading, sitting on when bathing suits are wet, or just putting over hot car seats
- An empty reusable shopping bag – for separating wet items, carrying groceries, or just as an extra place to stash stuff
- A Frisbee, and a ball to play catch with
In the inside pockets:
- Quarters – for meters and vending machines
- A tiny bottle of hand sanitizer
- Stick sunscreen
In the outside pockets:
- Sunscreen – a tube of regular sunscreen, a tube of facial sunscreen, plus spray-sunscreen for reapplying at the beach
- Wet wipes
- A little bag of sporks, plastic knives, and one sharp travel knife
- Bottles of bubbles
- Baby powder – the easiest way I have found to get sand off of everyone’s legs and feet!
- A deck of cards and another small game – currently it’s UNO; I plan to rotate games for variety
- A small first aid kit with band-aids, antibiotic wipes, and Tylenol
- A small hairbrush and extra hair elastics – for redoing ponytails before practice
- Ziploc bags – for stashing little treasures and other things
- Plastic grocery bags – to use as trash bags for carry in/carry out parks
- Doggie bags
- A small coloring book/drawing pad and box of crayons
I was going to keep the bag in the car at all times, but have decided that it’s better to bring it back and forth to the house each day. That way I can easily restock it.
In addition to what is in the bag, we may also need to bring along:
Sun hats and sunglasses
A cooler with extra water
Snacks and/or lunch-to-go
Swimsuits and towels
Change of clothes/shoes
Other sports equipment
I have a little sticky note on the side of the fridge with these “extra” items listed on it, to jog my memory as we get ready to head out the door. I am already in love with my bag, and I’ve only taken it along twice so far.