When you were single, you left the house with three or four things, tops: keys, wallet, phone, and maybe chapstick. A purse could be filled with snacks, a little notebook, two shades of lipstick and some other essentials if you felt like it. With a toddler in tow, those days are over. The new mommy you has a checklist that sounds more like this: wallet, phone, juice box, soccer cleats, note for the teacher, library cards, orange slices for the team, etcetera, etcetera. In order to avoid meltdowns and other hazardous kid encounters, keep these mom essentials close:
A second pair
If you had the foresight to throw an apple or candy bar in your purse for yourself, you are going to need more than one. The minute your child sees you munching on something, the dreaded words "Can I have a bite of that?" will be uttered. Oh, and don't think siblings sharing your spare either. Either throw the entire box in your purse or leave it at all home.
Wet wipes, hand sanitizer and a stain remover pen all fit in this category. Grimy hands, fresh from the monkey bars will grab at the Goldfish crackers without a second thought. It's a mom's job to stash the sanitizer. On a similar note, there sometimes isn't a sink readily available for sticky popsicle hands, which is where a wet wipe becomes an essential tool. Oh, and the stain remover pain? Sticky popsicle hands often reach towards whatever mom is wearing. Unless you like wearing "cherry red," I suggest keeping it handy.
It's rather important to be able to keep your kiddos entertained. What seems like a 2 minute wait can quickly turn into a 27 minute wait, leaving your kids bored and fussy. While your phone could keep them busy for hours, a box of crayons can do the same but without draining your battery. Keep a box of crayons or other easy to tote item in your purse for easy access.
Once you need a band-aid, there really isn't anything else you can use as a substitute. With kids around, it's really only a matter of when you will need to whip one out.
Inevitably, someone in your crew will get hungry when running errands. It doesn't matter if they ate lunch before or will be eating lunch afterwards. They are hungry now, and you are going to hear about it. Stash snack packs of granola bars or other hard to smash foods in your bag. While kids love crackers, the crumbs left in your purse are a less helpful accessory.
Your phone is your lifeline, filled with playdate contacts, directions, and videos that instantly silence most tears. Lucky for you, there are a handful of apps out there that make a mom's life easier. There are a few apps that organize your photos, while others let you know where the closest toilet is. If you are feeling extra prepared, be sure to pack along a portable charger for your electronic sidekick.
Can you hold this?
This classic question isn't always something to strike fear into your heart, but occasionally is. Keeping a stash of zip top baggies in your purse leaves you to "hold onto" any collection of muddy rocks, creepy crawlies, wet leaves or any other "treasure." If you are a mother of boys, this is a must-have item.
While a hair elastic and a couple of bobby pins could be used for mom to put her hair up, any mother of girls knows it's also helpful to have enough to go around. Carefully coiffed curls certainly can get in the way when there is playing to be done. Also, putting hair up in the first place can help avoid a tangled mess if those locks were left to their own devices while walking the plank, or playing in puddles.
Last, but not least
Realistically, the most important thing you can always have on your person is an extra dose of patience. Unfortunately, you can't pick up an extra pair at the grocery store, or buy it in bulk on Amazon. You can, however, choose your battles and decide that wearing princess clothes all day for a week isn't worth the tantrum of making your little princess change. Also, be sure to schedule in a little "me" time whenever you can to press your own reset button, and let mom, sister, or dad step in every once in a while.
Emily is putting her English and Humanities degree to use editing and writing all over the world. Trying to see all 7 world wonders (while visiting as many countries as she can in between), Emily loves wandering alleyways, beautifully photographed food, stumbling upon impromptu flea and food markets. She can usually be found camera in hand, munching on a street food and never has her headphones out of reach.