Ahhh, summer, a time to kick back and relax — unless you're a parent. For moms and dads, summer is filled with shuttling the kids to camps and sports practices, road trips to see far-flung grandparents and the occasional trip to the beach or pool. Let's face it: Most parents will spend many more hours in the car this summer than they will soaking up the sun.
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I polled our on-staff parents for their must-have car items for summer, so stow that ice scraper and load your car with these goodies for an easy-breezy summer in the car.
Summer car-care kit: Stay on the road — instead of on the side of it — with a can of Fix-A-Flat for any flat tires and a gallon of engine coolant for those days when summer gets the better of your engine. Consider adding a windshield sunshade to keep your car's interior a little cooler as well as some protectant wipes to keep your car's interior looking good.
Summer care for you and the kiddos: While the summer sun feels good on your skin after a long, cold winter, its rays aren't doing you any favors. Keep skin cancer at bay by slathering on the sunscreen. Keep a bottle of sunscreen spray or lotion as well as a sunscreen stick within easy reach. Next to the sunscreen, stash a bottle of bug spray to keep away mosquitoes and many of their nasty friends.
First-aid kit: Scrapes, cuts and plenty of tears are marks of summer. A well-stocked first-aid kit ensures that a boo-boo won't bring an early end to a day at the beach or playground.
Towels: Throw a couple old bath or beach towels into your car's cargo area for cleaning up messy kids or keeping little ones and their wet bathing suits from getting your car's interior soaking wet.
Blanket: Keep a blanket on hand for impromptu picnics or those seemingly never-ending kids' sports games. Several of my colleagues are big fans of blankets that have a waterproof side.
Baby powder: A few sprinkles of this magical dust onto skin covered in sand will make clean up quick and your car's interior will be less sandy.
Cash stash, aka ice-cream slush fund: You can hear the ice-cream truck coming from blocks away, but with your cash stash you won't be scrambling for money to get your kids' favorite treats. Instead, you'll be the mom or dad of the year. OK, maybe just of the moment, but relish the glory while it lasts.
Beach-ready bag: Fill it with a collapsible bucket, small shovels and inexpensive flip-flops for the whole family and then just grab your beach bag from the trunk when you make a last-minute stop at the beach or park sandbox. Again, mom or dad of the year, ahem.
With the start of summer just around the corner, now is a good time to clean out your car, making sure there aren't any lingering crayons in the seat crevices or half-empty cartons of chocolate milk lurking under the seats. Nothing ruins the fun of summer like the stench of curdled milk.
Cars.com writer Courtney Messenbaugh contributed to this story.