What has to find a place in the big knapsack that comes along on the day's excursion? Without claiming to have remembered everything, we have put together a little packing list for you and perhaps also for your au pair.
Food and drink
Children on a family outing are always hungry and thirsty – irrespective, it seems, of how long it's been since their last meal. To avoid having the backseat of the car end up looking like a food dumpster, bite-sized snacks that can disappear swiftly into a hungry mouth are a great solution. Even with this precautionary approach, wipes for quick cleaning are also a must!
Healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and mini-sandwiches are good to have so that your young travelling companions don't suddenly start to feel nauseous bringing the day's excursion to a sudden and unhappy end.
Of course, a few sweets should be part of the mix as well. These can serve as a crucial incentive to motivate tired young hikers at difficult points in the course of the day.
Water in a small drinking bottle can also be carried in a child's knapsack – giving little ones the chance to feel like a big (and important) member of the family team.
Even if your children don't tend to get car sick, being prepared for the exceptions is best. Whether it's the excitement of the trip, a particularly curvy section of the drive or too much snacking in too short a time, you'll certainly be happy to have a small plastic bag ready should a minor stomach emergency occur!
Whether for longer drives or a day at the swimming pool – it's good to have some entertaining items packed in your bag. These could be toys, books, the favourite stuffed animal, a CD or DVD to while away the time. Before heading home, it's always good to check carefully if everything has found its way back into the big knapsack – otherwise, there could be a bitter tears when the discovery is made that the favourite doll or stuffed animal is still sitting by the side of the pool.
And don't forget to think about yourself, too! Maybe you'll actually find a half hour to read your book.
For longer drives it makes sense to research kid-friendly rest areas along your route. These would feature a playground and maybe an indoor play possibility in case the weather is not so good. A little bit of active play can make for more relaxed children during the next section of the drive – and give your nerves a rest, too.
Change of clothes
You're heading to a lake, to a water playground or simply for a walk in the woods and some play outdoors? Pack a complete change of clothes for each child as a well as towels, if swimming is part of the plan. Little ones (and bigger ones, too) can be totally wet or mud-covered before you know it. Not to mention that it's no fun at all to play close to water when you can't get wet!
No, we don't want to be alarmist and we aren't talking about bring a fully equipped doctor's bag. But a few plasters in different sizes, a disinfection spray, an ointment for insect bites, a pair of tweezers for taking out a splinter, and, in some regions, a tick card should be part of your standard equipment. An Internet search under "children's first-aid kit" should let you find what's right for your family's needs.
The basic selection of items to bring along of course depends very much on the age of your children. For babies and toddlers, diapers, moist wipes and other changing equipment will certainly be on the list, along with a replacement pacifier, if one is still in use. And depending on the weather – sun blocker, caps, raincoats and waterproof pants.
Being well prepared is key! As parents, you certainly have a good feeling what's required for any particular outing. Help your au pair to get prepared for the first excursions with the kids so that everyone has the best time possible!
Have we thought of everything? What have you or your au pair forgotten and regretted not having along on an outing? Tell us about it! We'd love to hear from you.