There is a meter by which we measure all parents. Even if we don't talk about it openly, we all know it is there. For the longest time, I thought this meter was invisible. This year, with Covid-19 checklists becoming as noticeable as a new Louis Vuitton handbag in a sandbox, it is time to finally discuss the secret list that good parents always carry. I confess, I had to ask a number of parents what they actually carry in order to get this list as complete as possible. Let's see if you pass the test!
My car may look like the inside of an outlet store during the mayhem of boxing day sales but when you need a personalized bottle of saline because your contact lens fell out in the middle of a 10km hike in the bush, I'm your woman!
Items are listed in no particular order of priority. At one point or another I have used each and every one of these items and have been quite pleased with the ease in which I was able to get myself out of a potentially awful situation. If I missed an item you think is important, I'd love to hear from you in the comment section!
Throw it in a zip lock bag in your lunch bag and when that little piece of broccoli from your salad gets stuck in your teeth or your child's- you don't have to stick fingers in mouths. You can calmly reach for your floss and resume a Colgate smile! Pro Tip <<These ones the kids can use independently>>
My kids have an cunning ability to get splinters in their hands at any park. I've tried removing things with pliers out of desperation, but it wasn't pretty. I highly recommend a pair of tweezers also stuffed into the lunch bag or first aid kit. <<Check Out This Deal on Tweezers!>>
3. Plantain Salve
I only just discovered what this was two years ago and if I had to choose one natural product to take with me everywhere, this would be it. (From lip balm, to sunburns to scrapes and even hemorrhoid treatment, this amazing salve has got you covered -literally!). My favorite Brand is by The Green Goddess in Northern Alberta. Click here to order online.
My mother always carried a wet facecloth in a plastic bag when we went on picnics in Nigeria. They are much better on the environment than wet wipes but you'll have to remember to replace them each outing. These days, I throw a packet of baby wipes in my lunch kit and forget about them...until the kids come running towards me with muddy hands and begging for their sandwiches. Pro Tip- Get the flip top package << Featured Here>>
5. Hand Sanitizer
You might assume not much needs to be said about this these days, but there is more to it than meets the eye. Super parent tip- Get a big pump bottle, all the kids will use it independently and you won't have to battle with the cute but impractical spritzer bottle with peanut butter smeared down the sides. <<Click Here>>
6. Masks- Duh! Pro Tip- Get the behind the head adjusters. They make the masks so much more comfortable and they fit better for little faces and ears. << Click here >>
7. Extra Clothes
Now you may be thinking this is for the kids. Well, that is partially true. However, throw in a pair of leggings and a loose long sleeve shirt for yourself and you won't regret it. If you end up changing a child covered in who knows what, or sitting on a wet bench just when you arrived at the park, you'll be grateful to be able to whip out a new outfit for to get back yourself feeling more comfortable. ProTip- Pack oversized clothing because you can always make something too big fit a small child...but you can't always make something too small fit a big child. Hats, Gloves, Sock. One or two outfits per child in your care will be a life saver.
I spend about 4-7 hours outside most days with my three kids. At some point, someone needs the washroom. Half the time, there are no washrooms at the park or they are so gross, I can't bring myself to go in. So, I tuck <<My Carry Potty>> in the car that has a spill proof lid. A mom friend recently reveled to me that she carries a female urinal with her and it has been a life changer. She crawls into the back row of her car for privacy and doesn't have to contend with hovering over the gross portable washrooms at the park. I was jealous. Get Yours by <<clicking here >>
9. Extra Shoes
How many times has a child seen a puddle and walked around it? Never. That's right. So, throw in a pair of extra shoes in the car for that time when feet are wet from the water they ran through when your back was turned and now they are miserable. I keep the shoes with the laces that I never want to take the time to put on kids as my spares in the car. Value village is a great spot for these spare items that may only be worn a few times before they outgrow them.
I love being able to support the little lemonade stand or ice cream truck whizzing by with a couple of coins I carry in my lunch bag. Even better is being able to send the kids off to purchase their own goodies from the food trucks and practice their confident speaking voices.
I love snapping photos of my kids as they play. I also snap photos of the parks we visit to blog about them here (Did you know you can search for parks or features like "Tennis" in the search bar on the website?). I just don't leave the house without my phone. Partly because of the GPS feature, and partly for the safety aspect. I charge my phone at night and I consider it a good day if the battery is drained from all my photo taking at the end of the day!
12. Granola Bars
Can't tell you how many times I've run around like a chicken with it's head cut off in the morning trying to make it out the door only to realize I have packed lunch for everyone, but haven't had a moment to put breakfast in my own belly. Not a problem. My arm rest is usually bursting with granola bars. If it isn't a breakfast replacement, then come dinner when the kids are hungry, lunch bags empty and a traffic jam ensues, I whip them out then and hand them out like Olympic batons. I've handed out granola bars to homeless people asking for help. I've handed them out to other kids who are hungry at the park and whose parents look as frazzled as I often feel and nod an appreciated yes to my offer. Pro Tip- Buy them in bulk from Costco. Put an entire box in the car. You won't be sorry.
In the summer I have a giant jug or a full crate of water bottles that are left in the car. If its not my kids, it is someone else who is thirsty. Nothing worse than not having water when you need it.
14. Plastic Bags
I've got 99 problems but bags ain't one! For collecting rocks, leaves or any other thing the kids have decided they MUST take home. For dog poop, wet clothes, keeping feet dry, garbage in the car, the kid that gets car sick, I cannot list in a million years all the reasons to keep a few plastic bags in your lunch bag or vehicle. Pro tip: Don't get transparent bags. No one wants to see the grossness you are carrying. Try these colored ones.
15. A Towel.
A few years ago I went for a walk with a friend and our kids. Her child ran ahead and literally ran right off the end of a dock into a lake full speed. Her child was only a few years old. Moments later his father plunged off the edge to save the child from drowning. Well, now they were both wet. Guess who had a towel and a change of clothes for them in the car? yup, you guessed it. Since then, I try to pack a rag or towel for wiping down wet slides, or wet people at the least expected times.
16. Bug Spray
In a nut shell- they like me. I do not like them. Get what works and keep an extra one in the car. My children are allergic to wasps. So, not only do I carry bug spray, I also carry their post sting medication and topical cream. My favorite natural bug spray is also from the Green Goddess.
17. Lip Gloss
There is no amount of photoshop that can replace just putting on lip gloss, or lip balm, or plantain salve (see above) if you are feeling down. On days when getting out the door is award winning, I often feel like The Wreck of the Hesperus and a deep breath and some lip gloss takes the edge off of #momlife. Throw it in your car's cup holder.
My son asked me the other day why I had been scratching my legs so much. The truth is I hadn't been. They were just dry...really dry. More noticeable a calamity on Africans so I always have a bottle of lotion in the car for hands, faces, and now legs just to keep us looking less ashy :). We love this Cocobutter lotion
19. Wet Suits
My babies have always struggled to retain body heat in water. From the time my first child was just a few months old, we had an infant wetsuit from Amazon in hand for our time in the pool. Now, with living by the Ocean, a wet suit is such an important addition to keep our time by the sea and in rivers fun. <<Get Yours here>>. Insider tip: Get full length insulated (3-4mm) wetsuits for children 5 and under. It keeps them warm but also protects their knees from scrapes.
20. Band aids
I hardly use them because they tend to fall off, but when a child has a more emotional boo boo than physical, these go a long way...along with a lollipop. I am delighted to know there are now band-aids to match the skin colors of Black children! Even if you aren't Black, I highly recommend buying these for your inclusive first aid kit. <<Click here>>
21. First Aid Kits
Bonus points if you have a CPR mask with one way valve in your kit and know how yo use it!
When I was in highschool I took square dancing classes. (Stop Laughing), One day an hour before a dance show I sat down underneath a tree and sat on a piece of gum. yuk! Since then I've been quite conscious of where I place my tush for a rest. These days I carry a 5X5 tarp with me just about wherever I go. From wet sand at the beach to wet benches this tarp has saved me from many unpleasant experiences. Unlike a blanket, it is waterproof, doesn't need washing and it serves as a rain fort too. I love that it acts as a central meeting spot for lunch for the kids on the floor and a landmark on a beach. Amazon has a good selection if you can't find one second hand. << Click Here>>
If your hair elastic breaks, a pair of pants too loose, a fort needs reinforcements or your child gets tired of riding their tricycle and needs a pull, rope is your bestest of friends.
24. Cat Litter
Much like plastic bags, there are too many uses for cat litter to name. Some important ones however include giving your tires grit if you slide into a ditch in the winter and can't get out. It is also a really handy thing to have if you drop your phone in a puddle of water or in the ocean. Put it in the cat litter as soon as you can to absorb the moisture! Pro Tip: Get the Cat litter with baking soda in it and it will absorb all the gross smells in your car while waiting to be used!
25. Sand Toys Bag
There is one of me, and three of them! Having toys contained in their individual containers is key to my sanity. Sand Toys are a hit but I hated having to search through the whole car for the shovel that went missing. Now, We have a backpack JUST for sand toys. It is easy to carry, limits our inventory and means I'm not searching under seats for pieces here and there.
Mothering is hard. Some days I get headaches. Usually we are at a park or on a road trip when this occurs. Nothing worse than having to push through pounding pain for hours. Easy fix. One or two Ibuprofen hidden in the glove box of my car and my smile returns again.
27. Sidewalk Chalk
When the kids start to get bored of visiting our neighbourhood park over and over again, we change things up by bringing out sidewalk chalk. An easy way to create a hopscotch course or a maze that everyone can participate in. << Stock Up Here>>
28. Glow Sticks
The kids think this is tons of fun, but it is actually a significant safety tool! When we are camping or out in the evening, glows tick necklaces get dispensed like candy. This way, I can keep better track of kids running around in the distance. Pro Tip: Get the ones with a lanyard like these
29. Foil Blanket
Once I started going on hikes with friends and covering some serious mountain terrain, it dawned on me how risky I was being not having a foil blanket. Many hikers get hypothermia when they get lost and don't have proper gear for an overnight on a mountain range. Since then, I carry this << inexpensive little thing >>with me in my gear and it gives me peace of mind.
31. Safety Pins
My 4 year old insists on wearing ball gowns and fancy dresses to the most casual of outings. As soon as I say sandbox, all her party clothes come out. Safety pins are a great way to pin up dresses when hems are too long for the practicality of the situation. When buttons pop off, when mittens look like they are about to get lost. Pro Tip: The larger the better like these ones off Amazon
32. Paper, Pen and Tape.
A year ago I delivered cookie dough in the dark to the wrong house. When I discovered my error, I went back assuming the dough would still be on the front porch where I had dropped it off about midnight. It was not. I had to dig through my car for anything I could write on to let the home owner know the dough needed to go to the neighbours. All I could find was a C.D slip cover. It was less than elegant. Note to self, carry paper and some tape so you can leave notes where you need them to be seen.
How did you measure up? Out of 32, do you pass?
Share your score in the comment section below!
Did I miss something important? Comment below and let me know what you pack in your must carry items! And, click on the social media icon below to share this list with your friends!