We've had some bumpy experiences lately. Niiiiice and bumpy...
To start with, we've had an unfortunate family vehicle crash. We were all fine and thankfully not at fault: An on-coming driver decided to turn into his driveway right in front of us in a clearly mindless moment and BAM! Our almost new car was damaged on the front passenger side. The other driver's car was all but destroyed and spun into the gutter, deploying his airbags. It turned out he wasn't insured either. (Tsk...tsk!)
You're looking at almost $5000 worth of damages...
And so this week I am without my beloved family car and relying heavily on the kindness of some other lovely school Mummas, to ferry my kids to and from school while the panel beaters bang mine back to its former shape.
The experience of our first head-on car accident has got me thinking on all things cars (and luck!); especially things that every family should carry in their car or consider.
The importance of having correctly fitted car seats was really driven home by our recent experience. It is of paramount importance to ensure your kids are riding in the correct car seat for their age and height and that their car seats are also fitted correctly. Make sure you keep the manuals for any car seats you own in a safe place for quick reference, (even in the car itself is a great idea) and check that the seat belts are always fastened correctly. Little people have a tendency to fiddle with fittings on long, boring road trips and I've discovered unbuckled or ill-fitting belts too many times over the years.
On the subject of discovery, I recently found one of our booster seats was in fact broken and badly at that - polystyrene was spread about the car seat and floor like confetti and it had not occurred to any of the kiddos to let me know about it either. (Boys!) I was truly relieved that I had discovered this and removed it prior to our accident.
A first aid kit is a good idea to carry in your vehicle too. Apart from the smaller frequent accidents children manage to have, it's wise to carry a quantity of items in a purchased kit which includes necessities such as slings, scissors and antibacterial swabs. Most supermarkets sell mini first aid kits for a song which will tuck away in your car easily for unexpected incidents.
No car carrying kids should be without a bucket! How many times we've been saved by our faithful bucket I cannot tell you. Just trust me - it's been plenty! Great for trips to the beach to admire crabs, starfish and collecting shells but also invaluable for the unexpected bout of travel sickness or an urgent trip to the loo. You name it - our bucket's been called upon to do it! It's a small $1 investment that will serve you well and store inconspicuously in your car boot. Ours has even defrosted our windscreen on frosty mornings. (After a good cleaning mind you!) Nope, I wouldn't be without my bucket.
A towel is also a brilliant item to keep in your boot. Kids will invariably get messy or wet on outings and a towel has always been a welcome helping hand when they do. Accidents and spills within the car are swiftly mopped up, dirt removed and kids dried off. There are a million and one uses for a towel when travelling if you have children.
Garbage bags in your vehicle are a must with kids. Mine throw rubbish everywhere in our car on a daily basis (which drives me nuts by the way.) I keep a bag or two in the car and make my kiddos comply with the rubbish rule. We pass it around several times in a trip to collect whatever they've been consuming. It makes for an easy clean-up when we arrive home too.
I am pretty sure most car owners with kids carry tissues but in case you aren't, trust me, you need to! Consider carrying moist wipes of some description too. Whether you allow your kids to eat in your vehicle or not, these are a great staple for quick cleaning jobs on mucky faces and hands. Choose a good brand that won't dry out and will store long-term.
If you have a child in nappies, keep a second nappy bag packed in your car and fully stocked with all that you might need if you were held up in some unexpected circumstance - like an accident for example. Blankets, spare nappies, clothing, wipes - keep it all permanently in your vehicle and restock it as required.
My two younger boys are a total mess where clothing is concerned so for them I carry spare trousers and tees as well as undies and socks in a separate bag so that we're prepared for whatever manner in which they 'present' themselves. Thank god for that spare bag of clothing!
For pram pushing parents, make sure you have all of your pram's seasonal covers stored in your boot. Carry a rain cover and a net for sunny days, as well as a calico wrap to provide some sun coverage as the season warms up.
With the approach of Summer, make sure you've a picnic rug or two for outings and maybe pop a sun hut in too if you own one. Pop-up sun huts are brilliant for trips to the beach or park and a good quality one will provide up to 50 Plus SPF. The freedom to enjoy the outdoors in comfort for an unlimited amount of time is wonderful.
Sun hats for everyone are a must as well as a set of drinking cups. We have a gorgeous set of vintage metal cups which we take everywhere with us. They take good care of our needs and we wouldn't be without them. You can fill them up anywhere with anything as they even double as snack bowls. Purchase some paper cups if you've nothing decent to use and keep them handy in your glove box.
Finally, sunscreen is of major importance as we move into Summer but don't be tempted to keep this in your car - the heat of the season will destroy it before its time and you might find yourself and your kiddies burning as a result. We have discovered this one by accident ourselves - ouch!
What essentials do you carry in your car at all times?
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