10 things to keep in your car this winter
Some days I have a plan.
If the kids are out of school, we’ll get up. Get dressed, have breakfast, pack up a lunch or something, and head out – hiking if it’s warm, or somewhere warm and indoors if it’s not.
THESE DAYS ARE RARE.
Often, we bounce around the house. Kids eat breakfast…half of them get dressed and half of them harass their siblings while running around in various stages of UNdress and it’s chaos and ugliness and despair until I finally wrangle them all together, order them all to put on normal people clothing and march them to the car because I cannot have them in my house anymore.
On those days, I throw whatever I can find into a bag for lunch, grab some water bottles or juice pouches, and we get out as fast as we can.
On those days, it’s helpful to already have some things in my car, because I’m not thinking straight, I’m just trying to leave.
So. Here’s a list of things to keep in your car this winter, that might help out in situations like the above. This isn’t an extensive list – if you’re planning a weekend in the mountains or something, you’re going to want more stuff. This is just a list of the little things I’ve noticed are helpful to have during winter…and I’ve mostly noticed this because I’ve been out without them in the past and wished I had them.
Usually sometime in the fall I get a milk crate or cardboard box to put all these things in, and I just leave them there all winter. Actually, it doesn’t hurt to keep them there during the summer as well (except for the crayons. Those suckers will melt all over your seats. Ask me how I know.)
I included a handy-dandy printable list as well. You can print it out, gather everything up, and leave it in the car all winter long.
10 Things to Keep In Your Car This Winter
1.) A warm blanket
I hope you never need this because your car has broken down or won’t start, but I always carry one just in case. Wool is good, because it keeps you warm even when it gets wet. Or these Costco down blankets – I bought two last fall and keep them in my Stow-and-Go and I’ve pulled them out more times than I can count. They’re great when you’re watching sports games, and the kids sat under them when we went up near Fairplay to cut down a Christmas tree, and sometimes when we’re just driving, one of the kids will take them out to sleep under. They pack up really small and I love them.
2.) Extra mittens and hats
We keep at least one extra set for everyone. You can pick them up cheaply at thrift stores or other places, and when you have kids you can never ever have too many mittens or hats. Someone’s going to forget theirs, or assume it’s too warm to need them and it won’t be. And you’ll be a hero.
3.) Diapers and wipes
Let’s face it, you can always use an extra stash of diapers and wipes. Just be warned – if you keep the wipes in your car all winter, at some point they will freeze. I was always able to warm mine up just by holding them sandwiched between my hands for a minute or so.
Non-perishable snacks are always important, and they will be an actual lifesaver if you should try leaving downtown at the start of a snowstorm one afternoon…at the exact same time everyone else has the same idea, turning your 20-minute drive into a 3-hour odyssey. Granola bars, crackers, dried fruit, or pretzels are good snacks that won’t spoil and can withstand the cold of hanging out in your car. Always, always carry extra snacks.
5.) Coloring books and crayons
For the same reason – drives that take longer because you get caught in snow. They’re also useful to have if you’re running errands or dragging kids to the doctor, etc.
I always forget this in winter. But it might be even more important to wear now – the snow reflects, there’s less cloud cover…ok, actually it’s important to wear it no matter when. Keep an extra bottle in the car, along with lip balm with sun protection.
7.) First Aid kit
At the very least, you’ll want Band-Aids, but it’s helpful to have an entire First Aid kit for the car. You won’t regret it.
I’ve been caught off-guard a few times by how early it gets dark during the winter months! A flashlight is one of those things you may never need, but you’ll feel good having it just in case.
9.) Toilet paper
See #8. Another item you may never need (though we’ve been in plenty of outhouses along hiking trails where we did!) but it’s always better to have toilet paper and not need it than need it and not have it. That’s a good life quote.
10.) An extra backpack or bag
When you’re heading someplace indoors, kids are going to put on and peel off layers like crazy. It’s nice to have a bag or pack to stuff everything in as they hand it to you (and you’re less likely to lose all those mittens!) – and it’s all in one place when they need to put everything on to go back outside at the end of your outing.
How about you? Are there any must-haves on your list that I don’t have here? What are they?