Oh my, how my summer essentials have changed since I had kids!

I’ve promised you guys this list over the last year and here it is! Of course, I still have my own list of summer essentials. You can find them in my favorites posts or as soon as it’s summer fridays time, I’ll talk about them! But this list – this is all my mom summer essentials. Things I’ve had and used now through three kids, the things that make a huge difference and ones I can’t live without. This is a list full of all sorts of things and while I don’t think anyone NEEDS all this stuff, these are the things that make summer easier with the kids!

Of course, this isn’t including toys like water tables or bikes and what not. This is more like our favorite sunscreen, the bags I can’t live without, the coolers I take everywhere, stuff I take for the kids during baseball season and long park days, etc. I’ve learned the hard way by not having something!! This list is huge and wordy and filled with rambling, but it lists all the stuff.

I’ve love to hear below what some of your essentials are!

My Summer Mom Essentials

The Scout 4Boys Bag. This bag is enormous and ridiculous, but it makes for the BEST beach or pool bag, especially if you have little kids. The reason this is a game changer is because it can hold a ton of towels. Like at least five or six towels, then anything else you need. Snacks, sunscreens, some toys, books, hats, everything. The bag itself is very lightweight and it zippers on the top. It’s also waterproof. This bag is my go-to in the summer! There is also a slightly smaller version too.

An insulated pouch. I’ve talked about these many times over the years. To me, this is different than using a lunchbox or a cooler. This is something that I can grab in an instant that will keep some cold things cold – like yogurt pouches, a cup of fruit, cheese sticks, etc. This is not what I would use for a full day trip, but more like what I take on the go or if we’re going to be gone for an hour or two. I’ve used one of these since Max was a baby and it’s something I reach for every week. I also have this lilly version.

A soft cooler tote. Another one of my obsessions! Now, I personally like a more structured cooler for the pool or beach. But this is a great mom cooler, if you will. It’s soft and can squish into the bottom of your stroller or behind a car seat. It can hold any and everything cold. I have this version from amazon and it’s huge. I also have two of the hydro flask ones (a small and larger) and love them too. These are great for amusement park days too, kids’ baseball games, the park, etc. And it’s also an awesome tote for wine or seltzers if you have a girls night or something. We grab these all the time – including Eddie too. I also love to use a cooler backpack at the beach.

Bentgo chill lunch boxes. If we’re going more of the lunchbox route, then I love these ones in the summer. I still prefer the yumbox for school everyday, but these bentgo ones with a freezer pack are awesome.

A waterproof blanket. I’ve had this one since Max was a toddler and it’s incredible. Yes, we take it to the beach and that’s great for little ones with sandy feet, but it’s also amazing just here in the yard or at the park! It folds up nice and sleek too. It’s very easy to use and transport. Also squishy enough to fit in the bottom of a stroller or wagon.

A waterproof wet bag. These fold up to nothing and I keep them in a few places! Great for swimsuits or wet clothing.

Speaking of baseball, I also pack up a backpack (or diaper bag) to always have with my at the kids’ sporting events. This is due mostly to having to entertain Emilia and Jordan at Max’s (hockey, baseball, basketball) games up until this year. Right now I’m using the dagne dover backpack which I absolutely love. But I have it ready to go with everything packed and it’s a lifesaver. Depends on the season, but things I make sure I take with us in the warmer months and replenish if used:

  • liquid IV or LMNT or pedialyte packs
  • tylenol, bandaids, first aid
  • sunscreen
  • SPF chapstick
  • sunglasses for the kids and/or hats
  • snacks like applesauce pouches, popcorn, nuts, pretzels, etc
  • kid bug wipes or bug spray + bite away for kids
  • hand sanitizer or sanitizer wipes
  • water wipes and tissues
  • hair ties/mini hair brush
  • a few empty small ziplock bags
  • a folded up empty trash bag
  • beach towel
  • age-interested toys, like coloring pads, water wow books, cars to go in dirt or on bleachers, etc

I keep things in pouches so they are organized, easy to find and then I can switch from bag to poolbag, etc. I really love the clear pouches so I (or actually, Eddie) can see what’s in them.

When it comes to the imagine ink coloring pads, these are things I make sure I have on hand all year round. I get them in the Target dollar spot and it’s nice because they usually have a theme that the kids are interested in – paw patrol, frozen, jurassic park, etc. All of my kids love these! Sometimes we take crayons places but many times it’s easier to throw two of these in my diaper bag and go. It’s also nice to only have to deal with one marker instead a whole pack of crayons if you’re sitting on bleachers or something.

These towelling throw ons are wonderful. Max and Emilia have loved them for years – they are great when you get out of the pool and end up freezing. They work on the beach, to go to and from swimming, etc. I cannot recommend them enough!

My kids have light eyes and love to wear sunglasses – they always have! I’ve bought babiators since Max was born. They are practically indestructible, in fact Jordan is still wearing a pair or two that Max and Emilia wore. I usually get the polarized version. They are also very comfortable on their face. They never complain about them. Of course, the heart ones are my favorites.

For easy water shoes, we are big fans of natives. They have always been really comfortable for the kids too and they have worn them for years. We like these for any sort of water/grass play where they get wet. They are similar to crocs! And they dry fast and never smell. I also really like the keens seacamp for little toes (like ages 1 to 2, it protects their toes so well! Max LIVED in these.) but those do end up smelling terrible. The good thing is that you can throw them in the wash. For Jordan, I’ve switched to these see kai run sandals which are very soft and supportive too.

Water bottles!! I have raved about the thermos funtainers for YEARS. These are the only water bottles that never leak for us. I put them in the dishwasher and some we have had for eight years! Max and Emilia need a larger water bottle than 12 oz now, so I can find the 18oz ones with a straw at pottery barn. The hydroflask ones are also great and do not leak – and they come in larger sizes. They are just a bit heaver. We also really like these owala sip bottles.

Sun Protection

I’ve mentioned it a million times but this is my favorite visor. It is so easy, lightweight, packable, covers a lot – it’s great! I also love this velcro bow visor when I want to look nicer and this UPF 50+ visor. I get too hot in a full hat, so I like a visor where I can put my hair up in the middle. I also always have this foldable roll-up visor in my car!

When it comes for sunscreen for the kids, we’ve used think baby since Max was born. It is super thick and you have to scrub to get it off, but it doesn’t burn the eyes at ALL and my kids are totally fine with it.

The solar buddies sunscreen applicator is AMAZING! I first got these last year and am annoyed I haven’t been using them all along. The kids actually like to apply this themselves and it makes it much more enjoyable. I have two – one for our pool bag (or car) and one that we keep inside on the shelf.

I buy this supergoop play everyday jumbo pump sunscreen every year and we keep it in the garage. This is used by EVERYONE. It’s fabulous and right there on the shelf when you step out the door. We also will use this to fill the solar buddies in a pinch.

I do have sunscreen sticks on hand in just about every bag if we need it for our faces really quick. Either the think baby or blue lizard or sun bum. This zinka nosecoat and colorful stick is also fun – think the bright colorful sunscreens from the 90s! This was especially a hit last year for Max because we had to keep a scar on his face covered at all times.

I also really like this alba kids sunscreen spray if I need to do their legs really quick to reapply or the top of their scalp. I can often find this at costco in the summer too!

But speaking of scalps, this iplay UPF50+ baby hat is amazing for ages 0 through 2.5 to 3. I have also used these for the last eight years! I usually have one or two for the kids so there is always one in my pool bag or car and one at home for when we are just outside. I also like the version with the flap in the back.

Car Essentials

That brings us to the car essentials. I’ve talked about this a few times in my tuesday things posts over the years and you guys have always asked for more detailed posts on it. It’s nothing too crazy, but these are the things that I keep in my car every summer. It’s not exactly the same as the things in my sports bag/diaper bag for the summer, but similar. I put this stuff in a tote (like a scout bag) or a basket and it sits in the corner of the trunk. I used to add more of the stuff above into this bin in the car, before my kids were old enough for sports. But now that we are in more activities, I have most of the stuff in the backpack/diaper bag and just keep this stuff in the car at all times.

  • Full outfits for each, including socks and underwear. Their clothes are tiny so this doesn’t take up a lot of space even though it feels like it!
  • A swimsuit for each. Again, tiny!
  • A hat for each.
  • easy, cheap flip flops for each
  • extra sunglasses (even cheap ones that just get the job done)
  • A big beach towel or something to throw in the grass if we need it to sit, or to use to wipe down muddy shoes, etc.
  • salty snacks, like snack-size pretzel bags and things like applesauce pouches
  • a plastic bag or two – and paper towels
  • wipes and diapers – ones that never leave the car so I always have them

At Home

One thing we do at home that the kids have LOVED is to make “summer lists’ for them in dry erase pockets. We also do this doing the school year. I use canva and print out a checklist for them during the day. There are things on there that are responsibilities, like making sure their clothes are in laundry baskets and that they’ve brushed their teeth, but there are mostly fun things on there like “read for 30 mins,” “snuggle with mama,” “build legos,” etc. They love to check things off and this helps us keep some structure and routine in the summer! I print the list and then put it in one of these dry erase pockets with a dry erase marker. The sheets are double sided (morning and evening) and only take a few minutes. We use a command hook to hang them up in their rooms.

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