Whether we moms are hitting the road for vacation, or just shuttling the kids back and forth to camp every day, we’ve always got a list of essentials in our handbags that we can’t live without. It’s part of our summer ritual: switch the black leather bag to a bright fun tote, then stuff with everything we think we’ll need during the three hot months we’re out and about with our families.
So we’re sharing our 12 summer essentials that we never leave home without.
Whether you’re hitting the road, flying the friendly skies, or just heading to the park for a little sunshine, we hope these help keep you prepared at all times. After all, what is parenting if not anticipating every single possible need of our kids at all times?
1. Water bottle: My kids and I never leave home without water, and while my kids are usually responsible for carrying their own, I’ve always got a reusable water bottle on me. My pet peeve is a leaky water bottle though, so I always make sure the one in my bag is sealed tight and leak free!
2. Deodorant wipes: Did you even know these existed? They’re my new favorite thing, because well, it’s summer. And deodorant doesn’t last forever. A quick swipe with these and you’re good to go from the sweaty park to a cool coffee shop.
3. Portable phone charger: With our smartphones functioning as GPS devices, music players and cameras, it’s really important that they’re kept charged when you’re out and about. These days, you can find affordable, compact portable batteries that will give you one entire extra full charge on your smartphone.
4. Notebooks (and a pen): We really try to limit screen time when we’re out and about, especially at restaurants where my kids go completely screen free. That’s why I’m always glad to carry a couple of little notebooks and pens or crayons, so may kids can play tic-tac-toe over and over again.
5. Electrolyte tablets: This is one of my favorite tricks, especially since I’ve got a couple of kids who get easily dehydrated. Just pop an electrolyte tablet or packet into some water and it’ll give them a boost without the sugar, the expense of a sports drink, or the need to lug heavy bottles around.
6. Manicure kit: It’s amazing how many times I’ve used those tiny little nail-cutting scissors — and not even for nails! You might be surprised how often you end up using the clippers and nail file too, when you keep a set stashed in your bag. Plus, it’s good for a quick manicure while you’re waiting in the daycamp pick-up line.
7. Stain stick: It’s summer, the season of popsicles and ice cream and watermelon. Let’s just say the list of things that quickly stain my kids’ clothing seems to get longer in the summer. That’s why I love carrying a stain stick in my bag at all times.
8. Motion sickness bands: With at least one kid who tends to gets carsick on long (or short and windy) drives, I always carry motion sickness acupressure bands with me. Even though I remind my kids to grab their own before they leave the house, I usually end up passing out a pair to a kid who forgot. I highly recommend them as a lifesaving essential to carry with you, especially because they’re so lightweight and tiny.
9. Snacks: It never fails that kids get hungry the minute we leave the house, so we’re always prepared with snacks. One smart option: The delicious ApBitz dried apples from our partner Arctic Apples, not only because they’re healthy, but because they let you bring fruit along without worrying about a big, wet, fruity mess at the bottom of your bag. (Trust me, I know!) Plus they come in a fun french fry shape, and that they’re made from Arctic apples that were too big or too small for fresh slices, so no apples were wasted in the process of making these awesome snacks. Yay!
Dried fruit, nuts (if your kids can have them — like salted, roasted almonds or cashews), protein bars that won’t melt, sunflower seeds, squeeze packs of almond butter are all great ideas.
10. Sunscreen stick: I try to make sure my kids are fully sunscreen-ed before we leave the house, so a stick is a simple way to do touch-ups. Plus, after many a sunscreen bottle leak in my bag, I’ve learned my lesson the hard way not to carry around anything much bigger. Plus, the kids don’t seem to fight me about applying a sunscreen stick the way they do with lotion. So, there’s that.
11. Small pharmacy bag: I always keep a little stash of various pain relief and allergy medicines in my bag, because who knows when someone will get a headache or start sneezing uncontrollably. I add some hairbands, bandages, lip balm, and a clean, empty plastic baggie in there too and I’m set. (Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times a simple plastic zip bag has come in handy. Start carrying one around!)
12. Scarf: As hot as it can be in the summer, it can get pretty darn cold inside. We were all shivering in the theater of a musical I saw with my kids a few weeks ago, in the heat of the afternoon! Luckily, I had the scarf I always carry with me, which doubled as a little blanket for my girls. It’s also handy for impromptu picnics, one of the joys of summer.