Great Ready-for-Anything Tips for Moms

A day at a local park, beach or lake is great fun for moms and kids. Remembering everything, packing and getting ready to go - not so much fun. Having 'grab and go' containers makes a day out with children and friends much easier and more enjoyable. Start with two good-sized storage containers, the kind with snap on lids.

One container for personal care, clothing and toys

First aid and personal care items in small travel sizes should always top the list. Sunscreen, bandages, and antiseptic cream all go in one zip storage bag. A small pack of wipes will come in handy as well.

Next add a towel for every person and a small throw. Don't forget beach shoes, sunglasses, cap, and an old shirt for each person. If these clothing items are designated strictly for the 'grab and go' container, there's no likelihood of arriving without the essentials (saving time and mom's money). Keep children's beach toys such as shovels, buckets and a Frisbee handily packed as well.

While this may seem like a lot of stuff, packing carefully will require less space. All the clothing items will fit in the buckets while towels and the throw can be folded flat and placed on the bottom.

It's easy to personalize this list to suit your children, their ages and interests. Very little needs to be purchased.

One container for non-perishable food, plates, cups and utensils

Obviously, some foods can only be packed at the last minute and must be kept cold. But soft drinks, trail mix, cookies and crackers, small containers of canned fruit and individual size containers of peanut butter all keep well at room temperature.

Other tips

Keep ice packs in the freezer. Or partially fill and freeze small plastic containers, such as used water bottles.

When the urge strikes to hit the beach or the nearby park, all you need to do is pack the cooler. Make sandwiches, add fresh fruit, veggies, and cheese to the cooler and you and your kids will enjoy healthy foods throughout the day. You will be out the door and on your way in no time.

With the great variety of beaches, trails, lakes and parks available to Orange County families - along with lots of free festivals and concerts, museums and educational activities - these ready to go containers could get quite a workout.

Some top picks:

Irvine Lake offers 700 acres of water recreation such as fishing (no license required), rowboat rentals, and a five acre kid's lagoon, yet just minutes from the main freeways of Orange County.

Clark Regional Park features three softball fields and a baseball diamond, along with sand volleyball courts, trails for hiking and biking, and good shaded picnic areas. This park also has an Interpretive Center and visitors can watch scientists dig and prepare fossil exhibits.

Carbon Canyon Regional Park will also appeal to those who love fishing. The four-acre lake and two fishing piers of this 124-acre park make it a great place for an all-round perfect day of activity and relaxation. Picnic areas are scattered throughout the park.

Corona Del Mar Beach. Rent a boogie board and enjoy the mild to moderate waves. Explore Pirates Coves and its interesting geology.

Huntington City and State Beaches. Take the family dog along and enjoy Dog Beach at the northernmost end at Seapoint Avenue. The park features seasonal rentals and a paved boardwalk that runs the length of the beach. The state beach is quite family-friendly.

If you can't visit all these great places this year, there's always next summer. With everything neatly stored, all you'll need to do is replace first aid items and any clothes or shoes your children have outgrown!

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