One of the biggest differences between urban and suburban/rural life is that suburban life is completely dependent upon a car – even more so when children are involved. I always thought of my car as just a means of transporting people and the types of large items I couldn’t carry easily.
But now I have no car.
Wendy has a car for her commute to work outside of town, but we rarely use it in town. If we’re going to school, to the bank, to a restaurant, to the park, etc., we usually either walk or take public transit. It’s just too much of a pain and too expensive to drive and find parking for most things. Since I gave up my car, I’ve found that I used it as a mobile storage unit as much as for getting myself and my things places. Suburban cars are trash cans, medicine cabinets, junk drawers, and closets.
After ditching the car, I had to find a way to fill the gap. I use a backpack. So, what do I keep in there? Why, anything and everything I might need, of course.
Let’s start the tour!
- Rain gear: Raincoats can be the difference between an enjoyable day and a day of wet misery. You wanna get a taste of obnoxious? Just douse yourself and a kid with water when you’re a 30 minute train ride away from home and presto!
- Meds: I like to keep headache medicine handy for myself and for the kids. I also keep some sudafed with me because I have wicked bad allergies on days when I breath. Band-aids and triple antibiotic are good for cuts and scrapes. Lip balm keeps us all smoochable. I also keep sunscreen in there because without it my daughter would go up in flames faster than a kerosene soaked rag in a glass factory. Also, hand sanitizer. Have you seen the things kids touch? The world is basically covered in dirt that coats a layer of dried snot.
- Bags: I like these fabric bags because they fold up into almost nothing, but they can hold, like, 1 kid each. Or groceries. Whichever.
- Collapsible water bottles: Especially in the summer, a lightweight, space-conscious water toting system is indispensable when you’ve got as much walking left ahead of you as behind.
- Pens and a notebook: They come in handy for me a lot, but they’re also nice when the kids have a wait and I don’t want to share my cellphone games.
[Insert picture here? Nah. You guys know what pens and notebooks look like, right?]
- Protein bars: 1 per kid in case of sugar crash meltdown.
- Exploring tools: I keep a little LED flashlight on my keychain. It comes in handy for looking in cracks and crevices. Last night, I used it to spotlight Clover, who was out for an after-dark munch in the park. If I remember, I also put in a magnifying glass.
Of course, you can always toss in day-specific additions (e.g., a frisbee or something, too, if you’re heading to the park, etc.).
What do you carry? I’m always on the lookout to increase my load and then offset it by buying cool, collapsible, lightweight versions of things I already have. Comment away!