Life is full of thrills and spills when you're the parent of young kids in the rain-soaked Pacific Northwest. Fun-filled days at the playground often end with muddy grazed knees, sodden boots and a filthy car. Parents need to be prepared for every messy eventuality. Having that emergency “boo-boo kit” or a clever device to clean up the wet mess can be the difference between a good day and a bad one. Here are a few products that have saved my sanity on multiple occasions and made life just a teeny bit easier.
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1. Keep the car relatively clean.
PNW kids spend most of their childhood wearing muddy rain boots. Do yourself a favor and buy these heavy-duty kick mats so that when your kid inevitably kicks the back of the car seat the car won’t get caked in mud. This model also comes with storage pockets to stash snacks, devices and extremely important foraged materials, such as shells and rocks.
While you’re at it, add these car seat protectors to your cart. They will save the actual car seat from getting destroyed and make searching for errant Cheerios a lot more straightforward process.
2. Contain the mess.
Wet clothes, soiled gloves and other muddy things make everything dirty. Scoop it all up into a waterproof bag — like this one from Bumkins — to prevent the wet stuff from messing up everything else.
Better still, get a few of these washable laundry bags and you can throw the whole lot (including the bag) in the washing machine as soon as you get home.
3. Be prepared for every season.
Having a towel in your car at all times is essential for PNW parents. How else are you going to mop up all that wet play equipment and dry your kid after a long day of puddle-jumping? These light, superabsorbent microfiber towels are compact and easy to wash and dry. Keep them in the car all year long for impromptu picnics in spring, spray park visits in summer or rainy hikes in winter.
4. Hang it all up.
I’ll admit a washing line is an odd pick, but this small retractable device takes up hardly any space and comes in handy when you have young kids. String it up in your mudroom and enjoy tons of extra space to hang up wet rain pants and raincoats during the rainy season (most of the year).
5. Bring the boo-boo kit.
Sure, you could bring some band-aids in your purse, but this compact all-purpose first aid kit comes with so many useful items, such as antibiotic ointment, alcohol wipes, gauze, tweezers, burn gel, etc. It’s small enough to fit in your purse and you might be surprised by how much you end up using it.
6. Save your table.
Young kids love coloring and drawing, which is great until they start scribbling ferociously and etching marks on your wooden dining table. This heavy-duty vinyl table cloth is easy to clean and water-resistant (which comes in hand for inevitable juice spillage). It's available in a wide variety of sizes and colors and will save your kitchen or dining table from multiple attacks.
7. Have a clean space wherever you go.
These clever eco-friendly disposable mats are great for families on the go. Whenever you encounter a grimy picnic table, a germ-ridden airplane tray table or even a restaurant table that you want to keep clean, these mats will give you an instantly clean surface that’s yours to mess up and put in the trash after.