There are certain items every parent will come to realise they cannot live without - even when their children are older and the nappy bag has become unnecessary. I was reflecting recently on the essentials I try to have on hand, particularly on long car trips or outings. This was sparked by a recent, unexpected bout of car sickness from my youngest child, when I was forced to hastily hand her an empty chip packet as I was completely unprepared. Thankfully, her nausea passed and the bag remained unused, but it prompted me to get organised and restock some essentials into our car. Here are the must-haves on my list:
Do yourself a favour and grab the proper ones they hand out in hospital or the GP's office. You can buy them cheaply at any chemist, and they are very effective in catching and containing everything. I now have a couple of these tucked into the back seat pockets just in case.
I don't think I will ever stop having this miracle item on hand, even when my kids are adults. They are handy for so many things. Obviously, if you have babies or toddlers, you will have these on you for nappy changes anyway, but they are useful for older kids too. We have a pack in the car for last-minute face cleans on particularly rushed school mornings, ready in case there is an unfortunate car sickness episode, for unplanned toilet stops (you never know what the toilet paper situation will be) and for cleaning tables and chairs at parks or cafes.
Aside from the obvious use, my kids occasionally have nose bleeds so they come in handy.
Plastic bags or nappy bags
For all the dirty tissues and wipes. Also handy for stashing toilet accidents or dirty/wet clothing until you get home.
Antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser
Even before COVID-19, any parent who has ever taken kids into a public restroom will understand the need for these.
Coloured pencils or crayons and activity books
Always handy at cafes and restaurants or for in-car entertainment. Do yourself a favour and avoid pens and Textas in the car.
An old towel
Great for cleaning up spills and for drying off playground equipment after recent rain.
For each child. Even if they are completely toilet trained, there are often falls and spills.
First aid kit
Although up until recently we had thankfully only ever used the Band-Aids, on a recent holiday my daughter discovered a tick behind her ear and I used the plastic tweezers provided in the kit. It does come in handy!
- Christy Kidner is an editorial assistant at The Canberra Times.