When we become moms, our bodies change, our responsibilities change, and even our cars change. The transformation may be a completely new vehicle or simply the addition of a child seat in the back, but from the day our first baby comes home, our rides are never the same.
With those ten-tiny toes wiggling in the back, we now need completely different things to be available on the run at all times. Welcome to My Mom-Car Essentials.
1. Water: Plastic water bottles can remain sealed anywhere inside the car until an absolute emergency. When kids are screamingly thirsty, I pull the car over, hunt one down, and add H2O to any sippy-cup or hand that needs it. I stash enough for each kid and myself.
2. Reserves: These are snacks I hide from preying eyes. If I forget to stock the Forever Tote (see #16) or if my kids already devoured everything in it, I scrounge for these last resorts. Plus, on those rare occasions I’m alone in the car, I indulge on my favorite hidden gems: gummies.
3. Mommy’s Beauty Kit: Super handy for post-gym or to be presentable after rushing the kids to school. Must haves? Toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, gum, deodorant, hair-ties, a hairbrush, lip gloss, a mirror, tweezers, hand sanitizer, sunglasses, sunglasses case, and pretty smelling body spray.
4. Stroller(s): Yes, child transportation so I don’t have to break my back. If the baby was younger, I threw in a baby carrier, too. And as a 4a, when the kids were little, the Diaper Bag was a total essential in every car ride for 7+ years of my life complete, with a change of clothes for ME and baby.
5. Cell Phone Chargers: I keep two different kinds of chargers in the car: one for the car and one for regular outlets. I learned it only takes a few minutes to drive to the kids’ activities, which is not enough time to charge the phone’s battery which I forgot to charge while home catching up on the Bachelor. I usually want, or NEED, an indoor charger while I am waiting for lessons to end.
6. DVDs: Whether it’s for the boys or the girls, stranger-danger, or educational ABCs flicks, DVDs end up saving me those times when I can’t take the noise from the backseats anymore.
7. Car-Jam Music: When The Bee Movie from the DVDs above drives me bonkers or it’s time to rock out, I turn to my jams. A playlist of songs are a click of a blue-tooth button away to seat dance to with the kids. It helps pump everyone up while Mom-taxiing around.
8. Movie Popcorn T-Shirt for Harkins: Bet you don’t have this one! But since it is always in my car, I don’t stress trying to find it when rushing to get good seats during Summer Movie Fun. Did you know you can upgrade the medium popcorn you get with the shirt to the large REFILLABLE popcorn for only $1 more?
9. Safety Supplies: I find peace in knowing that bandages, Neosporin, sunscreen, hats, headache medicine for adults, Benadryl and an Epi-pen for my food-allergic son are there to treat boo-boos anywhere around town.
10. Cleaning Supplies: Have you seen a Mom’s School Bus close up? If I get a moment at pickup or waiting at practice, I take a few minutes to disinfect and tidy up. Glass wipes for windows, all-purpose interior wipes for the rest, leather cleaner for seats, a hand-held vacuum for floors, extra grocery bags for all the trash (wrappers, lollipop sticks, preschool crafts) that inevitably end up under the front seats.
11. Sanity Cash: This is extra $ collected over time. If it’s not on the credit card, it’s guilt free and untraceable when pit stopping for Frappuccino’s, lunch, or frozen yogurt.
12. Coupons: With all the restaurant discounts available in papers and mailers, I pick out my favs, zip them in a baggie, and reach for them if the urge arises as we drive by.
13. Thermal Pack: It helps keep items cool on the way from the grocery store. You never know when you want to buy some ice cream but also need to make a few more stops before home.
14. A Roll of Toilet Paper: My Mom taught me this one. This seemingly endless roll of tissue can be used for runny noses, as napkins, or for cleaning up occasional spills. It can also be used as toilet paper (no way?) when potty training little ones on long road trips.
15. A Bag of Toys: I saw her one time at the train park. Yes! It was Supermom. She walked with pride carrying her super carryall. The minute she set that giant pack down in the middle of the sand, kids from all corners of the playground flocked to her bag filled with all sorts of balls, shovels, buckets, and trucks. She and her 4 beaming children willingly shared their bounty with kids of all ages and sizes. Then, as if her work there was done, she gracefully retreated from her offspring and their 30 million new friends to a nearby bench to sit back, relax, and smile while leaving the rest of us moms staring in awe and wonder. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be her. I rushed home and permanently marked our family’s name on every ball and plastic toy I could find. Then I stocked my blue, fiber mesh, plastic, Ikea bag to the brim and placed it in the back of my mom car, ready for the next time this new protégé would be called back to the sandy trenches of play.
16. Forever Tote: Now that my kids are older, the over-sized bag of toys has changed into the Forever Tote. That metal rimmed picnic basket shaped bag is perfect for shuttling items full circle from the house to the car and back on my daily adventures. It can carry pencils, rulers, crayons, stickers, changes of clothes, coloring books, waters, and daily replenished snacks (not the car reserves, as previously mentioned).
17. Devotional: Last but not least, this is my favorite Mom-Car Essential: a hard copy compilation of shorts stories (about 5 minutes long) that teach life lessons my husband and I value. Why not take advantage of the minutes I have with our captive seat-belted audience? It becomes an added incentive for me to get places early because when I do, I simply reach for the book in the back seat pocket, read a quick tale, ask questions and discuss the main topic, and then feel good about doing my important job as a parent. After all, it is a Mom-Car now. Why not make the most of it?