You never know when an adventure may happen with itsy bitsy ones - sometimes it's an impromptu walk in the park hunting for gruffalos, other times you wake up and decide today's the day to sail the high seas to explore McNab's Island. Last year we had our first visit to Cole Harbour Heritage Farm thanks to our favourite adventure book, Day Trips from Halifax, by local author (and my little brother) Jon Tattrie, who also happens to have two itsy bitsy Haligonians of his own.
When you plan a family fun day - or it surprises you out of nowhere! - I've found having a fully stocked "Adventure Kit" in the trunk of the car ensures you're always ready to roll with what may happen. I've got a list of things you need for your kit below.
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Outdoor Flannel/Vinyl Blanket
We got ours as a Christmas gift (tip: GREAT gift for families with young children!). It can be used at the beach, on a sidewalk for a parade, or in a park for a picnic. Because one side is vinyl it prevents the flannel part of the blanket from getting wet if there is dew on the grass. The other side is soft enough for babies to crawl around on and kids to eat their lunch on.
Buckets and Shovels
Pick up a few buckets and shovels from the dollar store. They're perfect for the beach, snow, mud, water, or collecting rocks or shells...little kids LOVE putting things in buckets and it's a quick year round activity for just about any adventure.
A ziploc baggie full of birdseed adds a new element to a visit to a park, a trail, or the waterfront. Kids love throwing the birdseed and watching the ducks and birds chase each other around for the tasty treat. They don't recommend feeding birds bread any more as it's not good for their tummies but birdseed is great for them - plus it won't go moldy in your car! Just check any local signage to make sure it's okay to feed them, some locations monitor the feeding and don't allow external food coming in.
Fill a container full of non-perishable, temperature safe items (such as granola bars, crackers, raisins, etc.) and you'll be good to go on those play dates that run long, or when your kids motor through the daily snack you brought and are still hungry. Go through it every couple weeks to make sure nothing's spoiled or expired.
First Aid Kit (customized)
Get a good travel First Aid Kit to have with you. Add a few character band-aids (because a Frozen or Cars band-aid is always more soothing for some reason) and any other products that your children need, such as extra medications. While you're at it, schedule yourself in to take a First Aid course - something you'll NEVER regret doing.
Change of Clothes/Diapers
Last summer my kids started to embrace being messy and getting as dirty as possible and I made the (supreme) effort to allow them to do so. One summer day they ended up soaked to the bone from an impromptu splash around in the lake, fully clothed. That day they rode home naked. Since then I've included a change of clothes (including diapers for my youngest and underwear for potty training times) in our kit.
A few colouring books and crayons, dinky cars, books, balls, CDs, sidewalk chalk, and small stuffed animals make up this part for us. Whatever you know will distract your kids if the car breaks down or the restaurant is short staffed - throw it in there. Particularly great for babies who have older siblings who want to keep playing at a playground while your baby starts to get bored of sitting around watching them.
I keep a bottle of these in three of our four car doors as I use them so much. They're perfect for a quick wash up of little (and big) hands and faces when a bathroom isn't around to do so, especially if you're going to feed them snack on the go and want to avoid germs being ingested along with that Bear Paw. If you've got a little in diapers you'll likely have diaper wipes on you which work just as well.
A couple thick, old towels in your kit will come in handy when you get to the playground early and the equipment is still damp from dew - a swipe with these and you'll be the playground hero! Also good for drying off feet after jumping in puddles, drying hair after getting caught in the rain, and drying bodies after surprise dips in the lake (see Change of Clothes above).
Day Trips from Halifax book
This handy book has been in my car since I got it and has directed many planned and last minute trips. They're all within about an hour or two of Halifax and give an informative and entertaining description of each outing.
Pop all these items in a big plastic container with a lid and there's a bonus 11th item that does double duty. I got one of these after a couple beach days where I dragged in several bags - over several trips to the car - with a squirmy 18 month old and three year old and was exhausted before we even started the fun. The next time I got a big bin to throw the day's supplies in making it easer to get everything in one trip. It also acts as a table to set snacks or colour a picture on.
I've got one copy of Jon Tattrie's Day Trips from Halifax to give away! It's chock-full of great outings for all ages and is the perfect size to pop in your glove box and keep there for whenever the need for adventure strikes.
"A densely packed guide to Nova Scotia’s most raucous adventures, inspiring landscapes, and amazing history, this book ensures that visitors to and residents of the region never have a boring weekend again.
"From tidal-bore rafting on the Shubenacadie River or strolling among lions at the Oaklawn Zoo to searching for ancient fossils on Joggins Beach, Day Trips from Halifax is filled with all you need to know about the area’s local eateries, hidden beaches, unexpected hiking trails and much, much more."
Contest runs until May 27, 2016 at midnight (AST). The winner will be notified by email. If they don't respond within 48 hours a new winner will be drawn, and so on until a winner is confirmed. Good luck! (Don't forget to include your email address!)
*A copy of Day Trips from Halifax was provided for the giveaway but all opinions in this post are my own (though, obviously, wildly biased because he's my little brother).