Thursday, March 06, 2008

an amazing trip trick: what's in the bag?

There is no question that the ability to have a successful outing with multiple children, depends largely upon the the content of your bag.

Since I have an obsession with bags, I own quite a few. Typically, I carry a smaller sized backpack whenever we go out.

I find that a backpack is much easier to transport on our outings than an over-the-shoulder bag. Although, I do have a large over-the-shoulder bag that I keep fully stocked with clothes, jackets and diapers in the car.

My backpack, which I have with me at all times, consists of only two compartments: a large compartment and a smaller compartment. It also has two small mesh pockets on either side.

The large compartment holds our foldable potty seat for use in public restrooms, an assortment of diaper sizes (in a ziploc bag to keep them dry, in the off chance my water bottle sprung a leak) a package of diaper wipes and a small, light-weight receiving blanket.

Now that the kids are a little older, I don't bring along a full change of clothes for each of them in my backpack. Instead, I have a full change of clothes - pants, shirt, underwear, socks - for one 3-year old, and a full change of clothes for the baby.

In the small pocket up front, I have a sunscreen stick and a can of spray on sunscreen (within a ziploc bag in case they leak), a comb, a duck bag-dispenser (full of small trash bags - great for dirty diapers, wet or dirty clothes, or trash), and a small tube of Aquaphor - which I personally think is a magic ointment.

I also have infant Tylenol and a small first aid kit. Within the first aid kit I have band-aids, tweezers, scissors, Neosporin, a snake bite kit (because we live in southern California and you never know), nail clippers, gauze pads, paper tape, dental floss, Tylenol (for me) and a reflective security blanket.

Why a reflective security blanket ... you ask?

Because it takes up a tiny amount of space and if I ever got stranded on my way to Target, I could use it as a blanket to keep us warm (or cool), or as shelter to keep us protected from the elements. I could also use it to collect precipitation so we don't dehydrate, and because it is reflective, it can be spotted by search parties looking for us.

I like to be prepared.

I also have with me a small packet of crackers and a bottle of water, because it's a good idea to have a little something to tide you (more appropriately, your children) over as necessary until you are rescued. Or, your table is ready at the California Pizza Kitchen.

In the mesh pockets on the side, I have a small spray bottle that I keep filled with water. The spray bottle works great to do a quick rinse on dirty hands to remove gross contamination before I use a wipe.

I also use it to spritz-clean our portable potty chair, rinse off pacifiers that fell to the ground - or squirt the kids to keep them from falling asleep in the car, particularly if I want for them to take a nap when we get home.

The best use I have found for this spray bottle is to distract a child who is in the midst of a temper tantrum. I'll ask "Who wants to spray the plants, grass, car, shopping cart?" and it always stops them in their tracks.

Clipped on the back of my bag are several carabiners - which I use for anything and everything. My wallet slips inside my backpack as does my small camera and cell phone. (It took a month of lugging around the Nikon digital SLR, before I rushed out and bought a Canon PowerShot SD850 IS for my "everyday" pictures).

It's not a lot of stuff and the bag is quite compact, but I have used every single thing that I have in it, with the exception of the snake bite kit and reflective blanket. (Knock wood.)

This is the content of my "everyday" bag and I never have it packed so full of stuff that I can't get it closed. There is ample room on top to throw in sweatshirts for the kids and hats. If I need more than that (i.e. for a day at the beach), I have all of these supplies - but just move up a bag size.

Whenever we come back from an outing, I will restock whatever items were used, and store it near the front door, so the next time we are set to leave, I can just grab it and go.

I wish I could pack the kitchen sink - which would be useful particularly if I wanted to bathe the kids while we were out - but that little spray bottle is the next best thing.

What's in your bag that you can't live without?


  1. I love bags, and I also love to know what is in people's bags - because I am somewhat nosey. And also because I am competative, and I don't want to be less prepared that the next girl.

    My bag contents is very similar to yours, although I don't have a spray bottle, but plan on picking one up pronto - that is a fabulous idea!

    I have a lot of 'little' toys in the bag, only because we are starting to do more waiting while one kid is doing an activity and the other child needs some entertainment. I usually hide any kids meal toy that we get in the bag, and it only gets brought out for a 'surprise'.

    I'm impressed that you have a snake bite kit - that might be the one thing I don't have. I have a small kit that I carry with me and a slightly bigger one in the car - to which I also added sterile gloves and kelly clamps, among other things. And you really can't be too prepared - I actually used the kelly clamps to pull a piece of balloon out of the throat/mouth of some choking kid when we were out somewhere. I was awfully glad I had them handy!

  2. I like to think I'm prepared, but I’m not even in the same ballpark that you are in! Wow!

    This summer I invested in what I like to call my "mom" purse. It's still relatively cute, but the best part is that it's deep with lots of pockets. I rarely leave home without a diaper, wipes, some sort of snack, and our Elmo phone. Maybe one day when I have more than one kid, I'll pack more, but for now we're doing just fine.

    Again, though, I'm truly impressed with your preparation.

    Now that I'm typing this, I'm thinking about how I take a group of about 30 plus high school students to DC each year. Then, I too, am prepared for anything! I guess 4 kids and 30 high school students are just about the same!

  3. I think you pretty much covered it, except for one really great thing I LOVE disposable placemats from Kiddopotamus...they stick to the table so they can't be pulled off and it makes for easy clean up and they don't have to eat off of the table or ground or whatever. I have also used these to wrap up diapers or wet clothes when I run out of bags or whatever because I am not quite as good as Jen as repacking my bag when I get home :) Here is the link to the ones sold at Target...mine are bit different in pattern but the same thing(

  4. OMG! You crack me up! I don't go with ANYTHING! No clothes. No wipes. No change of underwear. NOTHING. The last time someone got cut I made them suck on their finger until we got home! Does that make me "commando"? I do, however, have my purse with two brand new tubes of lip-growing lip gloss. Does that count? :) I also hang out with really other prepared triplet moms like YOU!

  5. That spray bottle is a GREAT idea.
    I don't have to pack a bag any more. Well, except I have to stuff things in my purse for occasions such as tonight when Kayla was leaving for her volleyball game.
    Me: Kayla, do you have tylenol, puffer, money, hairbands, blah,blah,blah,
    Kayla: Yes MOOOOOOMMMMM.
    20 minutes later she's on the phone saying "Mom, can you bring some tylenol I feel a headache coming on..."
    Then there's me biting my tongue so as not to repeat the same lecture I had to give her the night before.
    I carried some sort of bag, especially out to dinner, until my kids were like 8 years old - with game boys, and books and stuff. The only thing I would add is a Tide to go pen or other stain remover so you can treat stains right away. This was not my idea - a much better mother than I gave me that one.

  6. GREAT IDEAS!!!! My trips would totally fight over the water bottle. I ALWAYS have a large Ziploc bag full of Baby fishy crackers. Great for eating or smashing...either way, it will buy me some time. I also always carry 6 plastic spoons (2 for each child). They can create a drum composition on the stroller, grocery cart, car window or their sibling. It keeps little hands busy and relatively clean.

  7. Courtney: We are also big fans of the disposable placemats. In fact, I wrote a blog about those a year or so ago.

    However, the triplets no longer need them when we eat out at restaurants - and Henry is just now getting to the point of eating off the table. So, the next time we go to a restaurant, a pack of disposable placemats will most definitely be in the bag. I should probably add them now, so I don't forget!

    Maggie: Yikes!! You had to pull a balloon out of someone's throat?! I'll be doing another blog posting soon about what's in my car. I have a First Aid kit that is pretty well stocked. The only thing it doesn't have is a defibrillator! :) (Although as I wrote that, I'm thinking it probably wouldn't be a bad idea!!)

  8. :) I went and looked back at your post about them...a) the kids were so LITTLE and cute then too...b) i also LOVE the snack traps but my oldest figured out how to remove the lid so they are no longer used, until you gave me the idea of ducktaping them on:)

    but I am glad you have them because they really are great and we've broken our fair share of bowls and plates in restaurants because they SERIOUSLY DON'T KNOW HOW TO KEEP THEM ON THE TABLE...or rather its way more fun to watch mom squirm and scream as they toss them off :(

    I thought of one more...breast'd laugh if I told you how many different occasions I have used them for far different things than my bra :)

  9. I am also past the point of needing a kid bag, but my purse is roomy enough to throw in a water bottle, sweater and small toys to amuse my girls when waiting.

    My favorite items to carry are poker chips and coins. It's amazing all the things they can do with them to pass the time. Of course, I don't have to worry about them swallowing them anymore, so we make up counting games and spin them and hide them and stuff.

  10. I almost NEVER leave without my umbrella. Although, it is probably a more critical item for me to have because I don't live in sunny California and I walk almost everywhere. Tissues and chapstick also another must-have in my bag.

  11. I have my standard diaper bag that I carry with me. In the van I carry my soccer bag or since it is baseball season now, my baseball bag. Meaning my two older boys have to be shuffled to various practices.It has snacks,a change of clothes for four kids since I do daycare for two in addition to my two little ones. A book whatever I am currently readng,Juices. So I guess you could say that I have two bags.

  12. For your beach going adventures, do you know the baby powder trick? Dust sandy hands with baby powder and rub hands together. It dusts right off -- works really well. Even though my kids are older, I usually toss one in my tote still.

  13. You're WAY more prepared than I ever was. One thing I found very handy, though, was some sort of change of clothes for ME in the car. at least a shirt, undies, socks. I can't tell you how many times I've needed those.

    Even with my kids now at 9 and 11, I still try to keep some spare clothes in the car. (reminds me I need to update sizes)

  14. This is a most excellent post. I never know what to put in my bag. Thanks, I think I will be taking some stuff out and adding some stuff in.

  15. I love bags as well. Currently, my "oh crap, I need more space" bag is a green gardening bag from Target. Cute, and virtually indestructible.

    My must-haves I didn't see on your list is a small spritz bottle with Clorox Anywhere Spray, and a small bottle of Purell in one of those clip-on carriers. I tend to be a bit more of a germaphob than most, and those two are must-haves!!

  16. How funny, I just posted a comprehensive list of hat's in my bag just this past week. We don;t have the same things at all. And now I think I need to add a bunch of things to my bag!

  17. "Fun" band-aids. You can never go wrong with a Sesame Street, NASCAR, or Hello Kitty band-aid to heal a boo-boo (and calm down a hysterical kid).

    I also carry around a Tide-to-go pen... because I am anal about "real" stains (not dirt or blood, but food stains on good clothes), and it has come in handy more than once for the grown-ups, too.

  18. Not being a mom my 2 essentials are lip balm and a spare hearing aid battery. Oh and kleenex, damn that allergy

  19. Purell!
    Sippy cup of water, and juice box or milk box (no refrig needed).

  20. The red titles with the white background is much better than the definitely was too bright to look at for a long time...and you do want to keep your 3000 hits a day I'm sure!