The Joyful Sort How To: Organize A Summer Car Kit

Well, we're about a month into the Summer of Mom and it's been equal parts fun and exhausting. June always tends to be really busy for us, giving way to a more relaxed July, and this year has been no exception. Between baseball, soccer, swimming, day camp, dentist appointments, and fun stuff like zoo trips, we've been spending a lot of time in the car.  We recently had a break in the action that allowed me to take a "catch-up day" (which always prompts my five year old to ask when "Mustard Day" is...), so I poured a glass of lemonade and headed out to our patio to put together a car kit to get us through the rest of the summer.

The Joyful Sort - Professional Organizer - COlumbus, OH - Blog - How To organize a summer car kit

Disclaimer: I keep essentials like hand sanitizer, an umbrella, small trash bags, and "car mints" (orange Tic-Tacs, because sometimes candy bribery is the only way, am I right?) in the center console of my car year-round, so those aren't included in our summer car kit, nor are basic preparedness items (jumper cables, tire pressure gauge, etc.).

Contain yourself.

Start with some sort of container to corral your items. I love this trunk organizer from (where else?) The Container Store, but if you already have an inexpensive plastic tote or a reusable shopping bag on-hand, those also work well to provide some structure without taking up too much trunk space. I went a step further and added some containers within the container because #organizerprobs. Whatever your preference, the key is to not just be tossing things into your trunk or backseat willy-nilly where you'll end up digging around for them later.

The Joyful Sort - Professional Organizer - Columbus, Ohio - Blog - HOW To organize a summer car kit

Prep and plan.

Jot down some of the activities that your family tends to gravitate towards in the summer. For us, it's lots of time spent at the park, spontaneous get-togethers with friends, and day trips to places like the Columbus Zoo and Franklin Park Conservatory. Think about those times when you've found yourself saying, "I wish I had thought to bring..." in the past. Better yet, bookmark this post and come back for future reference!

Round up your essentials.

The Joyful Sort - Professional Organizer - Columbus, Ohio - Blog - How To Organize A Summer Car Kit

In our summer car kit, I included:

  • Sunscreen

Summer = sunscreen. Does anyone else love being immediately transported back to a pool from childhood or a great beach vacation with one whiff of a particular brand of sunscreen? It's the best. The jury is still out on whether you should actually keep sunscreen bottles in your car due to possible reduced efficacy after being exposed to heat for a long period of time. I've found that we use ours up frequently enough (fair-skinned Irish heritage for the win!) that no one bottle stays around for too long, so I feel okay keeping ours in the car.

  • Insect repellent

I love these Babyganics wipes that I picked up fom Target before my oldest went off to day camp a few weeks ago! They're convenient, compact, and easy for the kiddos to apply themselves.

  • Wet wipes

Fact: children aged five and younger are always sticky. 

  • First Aid kit

Bandages, alcohol wipes, aloe, antibiotic ointment, and headache meds (for those days when I'm terrible about remembering to drink some water along with my three cups of coffee).

  • Tissues

Fact: children aged five and younger always have a runny nose.

  • Beach towels and bathing suits

Because sometimes the only thing saving anyone's sanity is an improptu trip to the splash pad.

  • Gallon baggies

For wet clothing or bathing suits and absolutely nothing else because just thinking about barf makes me want to barf.

  • Collapsible pet water bowl

Just in case our sweet (and maybe a little or a lot overweight) pup is able to join us on a nature walk or park trip.

Keeping snacks in the car can be a bit tricky in the summertime, again because of the temperature factor. Rather than stocking them in our car kit, I designated a small snack tote that lives in our mud room for easy pickup as we're leaving the house. I take a few minutes at the beginning of the week to refill it as needed and my boys enjoy being able to each pick out their own favorite car snacks.

The Joyful Sort - Professional Organizer - Columbus, Ohio - Blog - How To Organize A Summer Car Kit

Now this little beauty lives in the trunk of my car (except for session days when I gladly cram the trunk full of my wonderful clients' donations and trash instead - yay for decluttering!) and we're ready for whatever adventures are yet to come our way this summer.

The Joyful Sort - Professional Organizer - Columbus, Ohio - Blog - How To Organize A Summer Car Kit

Do you keep a summer car kit handy? Are there any important items that I might be forgetting about? Let me know in the comments!