Want to work out if that mother at the shopping centre has more than one child? Look at the size of her nappy bag.

First-time mothers carry everything. (You know it’s true — you used to do it too!) Over time, with experience, and as you figure out that not all gadgets are worth their weight, you pare down to the bare essentials.

Every mother should be prepared. That’s why manufacturers are able to successfully sell nappy bags that are over the legal size for carry-on luggage. But although I’ve moved away from the well-stocked nappy bag, I still have “be prepared” bouncing around in my brain. This doesn’t come from any successful indoctrination, rather it is the lesson learned from too many times when I haven’t been prepared.

Because I’m never really that far from my car, I keep my nappy bag in my car and don’t often carry nappies or even wipes with me while I’m wandering around the shops. Even if I’m visiting friends, they’ll often have spares on hand to use, or I can simply walk out to the car to get what I need.

However, a couple years ago, I created my own emergency car stash, and although it hasn’t been used very often, I like having it there. My recent experience in needing a change of clothes while out meant that I needed to stock up on items in my stash. This also gave me a chance to evaluate what I had and what I needed.

Emergency car pack, May 2010
I keep my emergency stash in the hollow of the spare tyre, hidden within the boot.

Here’s what I have in my emergency stash:

  • * nappies
  • * wipes
  • * tissues
  • * water
  • * hand sanitiser
  • * change of clothes for baby (current size + one size bigger)
  • * pants for the toddler who is not 100% toilet-trained
  • * and plastic bags.

By storing my emergency stash out of the way, it doesn’t add to the detritus already floating around the car. However, if there’s an incident, it can be called on.

Last week I stopped to help a motorist who had pulled up with a very distressed toddler. The little boy had vomited all over himself, and although they had the change of clothes, water, wipes, etc, the only thing they needed was a plastic bag to seal up the dirty clothes. Thanks to my emergency stash, I had one to offer!

By creating your own emergency stash, you’ll be prepared for almost anything — even if you leave your nappy bag at home! Use five minutes today to create your own stash, then take it out to the car and forget about it — until you need it!