7 Car Staples for a Spontaneous Summer

Today is Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day! I’m posting over at Mama’s Organized Chaos about preparing your child for their first day of preschool and Kim from Team Cartwright is guest posting here on a super fun summer topic: 7 car staples to have on hand for spontaneous summer fun!!!

Summer is a great time to be spontaneous. Kids are out of school, days are longer, and it seems like we just have more freedom to do what we want.

I am big on my schedules, but even I like to be able to say yes to spur of the moment ideas. The sprinklers are going as we leave story hour?

We should totally run through them. We are at the farmer’s market and there is a splash pad nearby? Let’s go! Basically I want to maximize our fun whenever we can.

One thing can hold me back though. I am not spontaneous by nature. I like to have a plan, and I like to have everything ready for any activity we do.

This might make me sound pretty lame, but when you have three little ones it really pays to plan ahead. What if someone needs a snack? Or a diaper change I didn’t plan for? Do I really want to have wet car seats? So I plan for our spontaneous activities.

Yeah, that sounds strange. But it works. Here is what I make sure to keep in the car for summer fun.


Sunscreen is a must when you are playing outside. But what if I think we are just going to the library and then we decide at the last minute to swing by the park?

I want to be ready. Yes, it is best to apply it 15 to 30 minutes before you head into the sun, but putting it on any time is better than not using it at all.

Sunscreen can break down in the bottle in extreme heat, so this is an item you should replace fairly regularly and try to keep out of direct sunlight when sitting in the car.

Extra water

I keep a six-pack case of water in our car at all times. I just throw it in the trunk and cover it up to keep the sun off of it. Dehydration can happen quickly, especially with high temperatures.

Little ones don’t always realize they are thirsty, so it is up to me to make sure they are getting enough to drink. Even if they are playing in water they still need to actually have some drinking water. No, the warm water doesn’t always taste the best, but it is better than nothing.

As a bonus having water in the car is a safety measure if you break down anywhere.

Extra snacks

I know not everyone is keen on snacking. But sometimes little tummies can’t wait. If we see a great opportunity I don’t want to pass it up because of fussy toddlers.

I’d rather have something available for them to eat. I keep this one pretty simple, just some Cheerios. They can stand up to the heat of the car, are easy to eat, and are always accepted by my kids. No, it isn’t a perfect food, but it isn’t too bad.

Try to switch these out pretty frequently as well. While I don’t think leaving them in a hot car for a long time will hurt anyone, it just doesn’t sound good. I can tell you having a back up snack has let us squeeze out a little more fun with happier kids.

Extra Clothes

Just like when you are out and about with newborns, you need a backup outfit for each kid. My son hates the be all wet once he is done playing in a splash pad.

I hate having to dry out car seats when we get home. This makes having a back up outfit he can change into a blessing. Sure it is nice to plan ahead and have a swim suit for water activities, but it isn’t a requirement.

I don’t want to say no to a sprinkler just because we aren’t wearing the ‘right’ thing. Another good reason is if you find something messy to do and don’t want a cute outfit ruined. (I’m talking to you muddy puddles.)

This is something that might normally be kept in a diaper bag, but as my oldest is closing in on four I don’t always carry extra clothes for him And with three kids I try to carry as little as possible, so the diaper bag lives in the car anyway.

The car outfits are usually old clothes that aren’t favorites. My kids might ride home in some interesting combinations, but they are dry and happy after having fun.


This is something that, like the water, can be a good idea to just have in the car anyway.

My car towel has been used as an extra blanket, a giant napkin, and padding for fragile items that need transport. I’ve never been annoyed to have this back up item. With splash pads open for business it is great to just have towels around.

Yes, I bring extra clothes to change into, but sometimes the kids still need to be dried off. Afterwards the wet clothes can be rolled up in the towel and the whole bundle tossed in the wash.

Extra Diaper Bag Supplies

I suppose this one should go without saying, you should have a stocked diaper bag. But honestly I go out without a diaper bag a lot.

I know, I have three kids three and under, I should be prepared.

Most of our outings are just a couple of hours tops. Really if we need anything that badly we just head home.

I do keep some diapers and wipes in the car, but that is about it. When we aim to be a little more flexible I like to keep a few extras in the car.

I have a few little toys for the girls in case we are doing something aimed at older children. Wipes are even more important if any parks have sand pits to play in.

An extra sippy cup or two can come in handy if your kids haven’t gotten drinking out of a water bottle down yet. Basically if you are stocking your car this is a good time to replenish any basic diaper bag supply you would normally want.

Mom Extras

I think a lot of us moms forget about ourselves when we are thinking about what we need when we are out.

I don’t add a ton of stuff for me, but there are a few things I like to have. I toss in some shorts and a t-shirt for me too. I know I can change when I get home, but usually my focus is on the kids and getting them situated.

Knowing I can quick get something dry on makes me more likely to jump in the sprinklers too. (Bonus if you wear a lot of white shirts in the summer.

No one wants to show off more than they meant to.) I also make sure to put extra hair ties in my glove box. It’s a little thing, but they come in handy, especially if we stop somewhere to play outside.

Make sure to have a couple of dollars ready. I try not to spend a ton of money, but getting a little treat can be part of the summer fun.

Ten dollars seems to be plenty, and it helps if they are in singles. You never know when you will need to stop for a quick ice cream or at a lemonade stand to support some business minded kids.

I know this list seems a bit long, but once you actually get it all together it really isn’t too bad. I basically take a beach tote bag, fill it up, and plop it in the trunk.

The key is to replace anything you use as soon as you can when you get home. That can be the hardest part, but if you take the bag in the house with you it will serve as a reminder to replenish it and get it back in the car.

I love being able to say yes to my kids. Yes, run through that sprinkler. Yes, jump in that muddy puddle. And yes, let’s stop and buy some lemonade from those potential new friends. What other items do you keep in your car for the summer?

Here are some other posts that can help you out this summer:

SPF What? Summer sunscreen tips for babies and kids

Hydration in babies, toddlers, and kids

Kim is the mother of three – a 3.5 year old son and 16 month old twin daughters. She blogs at Team-Cartwright.com

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