Real Life: What To Take On A Family Day Out
The warmer weather combined with the half term holidays has seen many of us parents partaking in the fun game of car boot tetris. Days out before children meant grabbing your purse/wallet and perhaps a pair of sunglasses. After children? Well, sometimes it feels like you need to squeeze the entire contents of your home in to the back of your car, doesn't it?
With two boys, aged five and seven, I, Rachel, finally feel like I'm getting the hang of what to pack. I know, I know, it's taken me a while. But we live equal distance between the coast and countryside so it means being prepared for every eventuality. We might know where we're headed on a day out, but we may end up stopping in a completely different place on the way home.
After many of years of getting it wrong and having to use my own clothes as towels, bandages and makeshift outfits for two small boys, here's what I never leave home without.
A WATERPROOF STORAGE CONTAINER
Wellies are pretty much a must on any day out with children. If there's mud, puddles, or even a stream or lake, you just know that your child will want to jump or run in it. But then what do you do when it's time to go home? I've accepted that my car will never be clean until my boys are old enough to have cars of their own, but I still don't want grubby wellies all over the back seat. I bought a plastic storage basket a couple of years ago and it has become our dedicated welly storer. I keep it in the hallway and simply transfer it to the car when I need to. It's also handy for popping any wet clothes or towels in to until we get home again.
A BAG PER CHILD
I pack each of my sons a swim bag with a towel, a spare set of clothes, sun hats and sunglasses. You might be lucky and not have children as grubby as mine but after having to give up my own vests and t-shirts after close encounters with incoming tides, I feel like it's better to be prepared. I hang the bags in the hallway and grab them when we go. If we're lucky enough not to need the spare clothes, I simply hang them back up again until the next time.
FOOD & DRINK
This is a given, right? Even if you leave the house immediately after breakfast, as soon as the car door slams, your child will inevitably announce that they are hungry. I nearly always pack some sort of picnic. It could be snacks, sandwiches, a mixture of the two. And lots of drinks, too - I fill a couple of water bottles for each child (and for myself). We love eating in cafes and restaurants but when the sun is shining, you really can't beat a picnic. Which leads me on to ...
A PICNIC BLANKET
Yes, a picnic blanket! I have the rainbow family picnic blanket and it comfortably fits the four of us and a rather large picnic hamper. It has water-resistant backing which means no damp bottoms when we use it at the beach or on wet grass. It folds up quickly and neatly and has adjustable straps making it super easy to carry. I also use it to line the boot for picnics on the go. A quick shake and the crumbs end up on the floor rather than in your car.
A TOTE BAG THAT STAYS IN THE CAR
Finally, I keep this strong and sturdy beach tote bag (discontinued) in the car at all times ready to take on days out. It's my 'just in case' bag and contains things such as sun cream, wipes, a mini first aid kit, calpol sachets, stickers, colouring pencils, small notepads, and a few spare coins. I replace and replenish as and when needed, and we nearly always need all of these things.
What are your day out essentials? Have I missed anything? Do let me know in the comments.
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