Saturday, September 24

Organizing the Van with Kids (and our "backup box")

Traveling with kids usually mean hauling a lot of stuff. The more kids. Even a trip to the grocery store can mean sippy cups, lost shoes, and an outfit change if you have a potty trainer. Sometimes we feel like we're packing enough for a weekend trip when we're just heading out for a few hours! Rather than lugging a huge diaper bag every time we leave the house, we've found it's much easier to keep a few key items stashed in the van permanently. Things we don't necessarily need to carry in our bag, but we want to have access to without running home. Here's what we pack and how we do it:

We have a Grand Caravan with "Stoe and Go" storage, which is wonderful for storing these extra items without sacrificing our trunk space! But if you have a car, you could totally do the same thing in a trunk with a couple small totes. Before we had our van we actually kept this first box on the floor below one our rear-facing carseats for easy access. This box was the first thing we ever packed for emergencies. We call it our "back-up box." Which is basically all the kids stuffs we might need in a emergency.

We use a small 5 gallon tote from Walmart, I think it was $6 but that was a few years ago. It's enough space to pack for our three kids without taking up too much room in the van.

What's in it? Let's take a look. A few books, a soft ball, and a few small toys (cars or animals) in a baggie. We always have something to entertain them if we end up having a long wait! We also kept a baby sling in the box while it was in our car, but now it's usually stuffed right in the Stow and Go so we can get it out quickly.

We also pack a handful of extra diapers in each size, extra baby wipes, and change of clothes for each boy (if you have a baby you may want an extra shirt for mom & dad, too!), socks and mittens, plus a couple empty plastic shopping bags for wrapping up wet/dirty clothing. We have most of these things separated into gallon size bags to keep them neat so it's easier to see what we have. For the boys clothes, we've found it best to do long pants and a short sleeve shirt (unless you remember to change them out every season). But long pants can be rolled up in summer, and we can add a jacket to short sleeves when it's chilly.

Plus a jacket for each boy, a travel shopping bag that rolls up in a ball, and a mini first aid kit.

We packed it all in, trying to put things we're using more often on top (for the fall it's the jackets and sling).

Then we stash the whole box in our stow & go compartment under one of the carseats.

We also keep a few water bottles for emergencies - in an empty oatmeal box so they don't roll around. Free storage! I want to add some granola bars but haven't remembered to yet. Then up to the left of the gray tote we have our ring sling and the woven wrap I dyed (never be caught without a baby carrier!), and below the box are two small fleece blankets the boys like to use while we drive in the winter.

The other thing we keep in the car all the time is a lightweight stroller. You can get the tutorial for our stroller holster straps here. We also have tips at the end of that post about diaper bags (which is another important factor for going out with the kids!) including links to some of our favorite patterns.

Bonus boy pics for aunt Beffy! Both of the big boys at the end of last summer:

"Baby Fred" caught another slug. He can spot a slug 10 feet away.

He also lets them crawl around on his tummy. He's an "all boy" kind of kid.

Traveling with kids can go much more smoothly if you're prepared. What are your favorite tips for organizing the car around your kids?

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