I've always thought it would be a no-lose moneymaker if some enterprising soul put together an "everything-you-need-in-the-car" kit for families who travel.
I'm not just talking here about maps and get-you-out-of-a-drift snow shovels. I'm thinking more along the lines of extra straws (for when your kid tragically misplaces his before it finds its way into his chocolate milk, and he's a hundred miles away in the back seat), spare underwear (one can never be too careful) and gum (there's always a reason for gum).
Must-have mommy car kit items
This enterprising idea flew into my head as so many do: in response to necessity. It was a Thursday – or, as I fondly think of it, stretch-mommy-to-the-seams day – and we were en route to swimming lessons from gymnastics, having stopped to pick up the older kids from school along the way.
After swimming, during which two of my four would get wet in the pool, and the other two would get wet on the recently rained-on hill outside, we would have precisely 22 minutes before the attendance of my second oldest would be required at Sparks.
By then, any kind of official dinner time would have come and gone, and grumbly tummies and too much time getting in and out of car seats would have taken their toll. And so it was then, with my mind drifting in the direction of such saving graces as plug-into-the-car-lighter refrigerators, and inside-the-glovebox microwave ovens, that I realized that the best-equipped vehicle is really a home away from home. And I started mentally composing my must-have list.
Penciling in last minute fun
For one, you would need a calendar. I've been caught out too many times without a comprehensive family schedule in my brain to risk leaving the house without one again. Similarly, you need a phone list. That way, when you're on your way to your kid's friend's house for a playdate pickup, and you can't remember whether she lives at 5 Third St. or 3 Fifth St., you've got a backup. While you're at it, you might as well throw in a GPS locator.
Homework on the go
For another, you really need a homework station, for school assignments on the run. Include a supply of paper (kept in something stiff so it doesn't get dog-eared), scissors, a dozen pens (their ranks will start to dwindle almost immediately), a couple of highlighters, a calculator, a ruler, 14 erasers, various dictionaries in a sampling of foreign languages, a thesaurus, an encyclopedia of Shakespearean quotations (you never know), an atlas, tracing paper, a healthy supply of glue, a stapler, a staple remover and a big stack of old National Geographics (these always come in handy for collages).
Something for every occasion
Next, pack bathing suits for every family member (the opportunity to share the goodwill of a friend with a pool should never be overlooked), a fork (it's amazing how often you can find a use for a fork), lip balm, sunscreen, a disposable camera, wrapping paper and tape, four letter-sized envelopes and one manila one, six of every type of battery and two diapers, even if all of your kids are beyond this stage.
Even more essentials
Finally, throw in some first-aid essentials (include Tums, Rolaids and Midol for mom), a preservative-centric collection of snack foods, sewing sundries, postage stamps, wet naps (grab a handful at the next Swiss Chalet visit), lots of kids' CDs, several long-life magazines (to occupy big people while awaiting kid pickups) and a wide assortment of electronic diversions for bored car mates.
Store all of these things in an enormous container to which you enjoy immediate access. Hit the streets.Read more:
• Road trip boredom blasters
• Safe driving strategies
• Stay healthy when you travel
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