As if it wasn't apparent already, let me just state for the record that we tend to stumble into family fun by accident.
I mean, don't misunderstand: I am a Virgo. I am a planner at heart, with touches of an OCD nature that flavor the scheduled disposition. I am the mom that would work to a :15 scheduled-day if you allowed me. (And I've learned that most kids? Don't really find that fun.)
And most kids definitely don't work that way.
So I plan where I can. And I try and follow the boy scout motto of Always be prepared.
When I tried to figure out WHY I was so fixated with trying to schedule everything, I realized it was because I wanted to be ready for anything on the schedule. I wanted all the accessories, all the peripherals, to make sure that anything that could come up within that small, concise schedule was accounted for.
Which was great before we had kids. I was pretty darn good at it.
But kids, man! Such wild cards!
So now, I try and keep the car stocked with certain things that will help us be ready for whatever adventures we get into. And, yes, seriously, I do keep all of these things in our car. No, I don't drive a passenger van. For all of my OCD nature, my husband is a fan of Tetris and will pack our car with the challenge of using as little space as possible for as much stuff as he can.
Here's some big things that have saved my bacon this summer:
Full changes of clothes. I have two boys, so if there's water to be found, they're going to find it with their entire bodies. I've now taken to keeping entire changes of clothes - down to underwear and dollar-store sandals - in big plastic bags in my car. Clean, dry clothes come out and you have something to throw the wet clothes into. I keep these in an insulated, reusable freezer bag, so even the plastic ziplock bags have something waterproof to go into.
At least two beach towels that stay in the car. These have been INDISPENSIBLE. These have been used as last-minute picnic blankets, privacy screens for above-mentioned clothes changes, blankets for long drives, and we've even been so weird as to use them as sun-screens in windows for long-drives as well. (IT GETS HOT HERE.) Sometimes, we even use them as towels.
A kit that resembles first-aid, but with more of a mom's touch. First-aid kits are a great starting point, but I find that they don't often carry everything. For surprise adventures, we need things like sunscreen, anti-itch ointment, pain-relieving gel, liquid Benadryl, Ace bandages, and band-aids with cartoon characters on them. Non-moms may not understand the last one, but moms are nodding along, knowing that for some reason, Spongebob band-aids have restorative properties.
Non-perishable foods. Now, I will be the first to admit that it's hard to keep these readily stocked in the car because they're used ALL THE TIME. Juice pouches, bags of crackers or pretzels, and granola seem to help us considerably. We also keep a few empty cups with lids in there in case .. well, just in case. They've saved us on more than one occasion.
Any thing you keep in your car that would be a lifesaver for me?