Parenthood is a crazy ride and it becomes even more hectic when you go mobile. It helps to calm the frazzled nerves by at least being prepared and having the things that you need at hand. I have put together an essential list for mom’s taxi as she negotiates traffic and tantrums!
- Basic hardware: Make sure your spare tire is pumped and ready. For some reason I have been having such bad luck with flat tyres lately. I am spending my life at Tiger Wheel and Tyre. This should be accompanied by a jack, screwdriver and a spanner. Jumper cables would also be a good investment for that day when your battery dies. One of those reflective triangles would be great for breakdowns to make sure you are visible. Items like this can be bought at your nearest Automobile Association.
- Entertainment: You need a car radio to keep sane and be updated on the latest news. You can also have an IPad to keep them busy on long trips, and these days you can even get portable DVD players / headrest screens to set up in your car.
- Bag: toys / nappy bag. If your child is in nappies, you need to be prepared. Also have a change of clothes, hat, sunscreen and their favourite toy. We always travel with a little toy car which seems to calm Nicky down.
- Wet wipes: This may already be packed in the nappy bag but I’m putting it as a separate item because it’s that important, even with older kids. You never know when someone is going to make a mess that you need to clean up or get sticky fingers. Nicky always seems to have a dirty face that I forget to clean before we go out. Today he emptied the contents of his pouch all over someone else’s couch and thank goodness I had wet wipes.
- Water and food: I always have water in the nappy bag and also have a few biscuits in there. Pouches for toddlers also work well. Carry some energy bars for yourself as well. You never know when you are going to forget to pack your lunch, or if you would be stranded without food.
- First Aid Kit: This must contain a good supply of plasters. When I was teaching I eventually got my own stash because of the amount of times kids would cut themselves when working with scissors. (Scissors is another useful item by the way – for things getting caught).
- Umbrella: It may be the sunniest day, but you never know when rain is going to catch you unawares. Be prepared.
- Map: Ah yes, before we all had smartphones and GPS’s we had maps. You need to be ready for that day when your electronic equipment fails you. And of course it’s always good to see the bigger picture, rather than living moment by moment listening to some disembodied voice.
- Blankets: I often have to fetch my husband late at night, so I permanently keep a soft warm blanket for Nicky (along with a little pillow) so that if he falls asleep in the car seat he will be comfortable and warm. If you travel often in cold situations, you might want to get a Mylar space blanket to prevent hypothermia.
- A Torch: If you get stranded, your cellphone may not be strong enough. Make the torch last longer by removing the batteries and placing them in Ziploc bags.
- Finally – look your best with a beauty touch up bag. Lipstick never lasts and it is good to have a backup. You can even get fold up brushes these days that are attached to mirrors. I used to have one in my bag. Concealer is also great for those days when you have a pimple that won’t budge. If you wear heels a lot you may want to think about packing a spare pair of flats in the car.
Oh… and don’t forget the kid, either!
As you can see, a lot of these items are there in the event of bad things happening. You never know when your car is going to let you down and it’s best to be prepared. I make sure my car insurance is paid every month. If you don’t have insurance, you’d better make a plan, and you can even receive an online quote these days. Having insurance is probably the most important item on your list – so make sure that you are covered.
We want to survive a breakdown, but we also want to survive whatever our kids throw at us. I’d be interested to know: what would be on your list of car essentials? Let me know in the comments.
Written in collaboration with First For Women.