Packing your mom purse for outdoor adventure

Sometimes just thinking about heading outside with your kids can feel overwhelming…. planning for all their possible needs…thinking about all the stuff you should bring along for baby’s safety…. trying to predict everything that could come in handy for the inevitable toddler tantrum on leaving the park, having brought the wrong snack, or a diaper malfunction.

Does managing all these possibilities before they happen stop you from heading out that door in the first place?

It took me a few years to arrive at ‘mom purse’ level, but I did and I’m going to tell you all about it!

items found in a mom's purse, wallet, keys, first aid, tissues, diaper, text reads be ready for play any day

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Downsize that diaper bag so getting outside is easier (for mom’s sake)!

Stop worrying.  Leave that diaper bag at home.  Instead, throw the bare minimum into your shoulder bag and go have some fun outside.  Get a mom purse.

Seriously, you’ll all be fine.

You’ll want to be prepared for some eventualities, and here’s what I recommend:

Get your mom purse ready for boo-boos and poo-poos:

By baby number three, I realized the worst mishaps I had to manage involved tears over scraped knees, super-snotty sneezes, and dirty bums.  So, I got rid of all the extras and down-sized.

With babies and toddlers, it will be expected that you have some diapers, wipes, possibly a change of clothes, and probably a snack or bottle.

For my first baby, I always carried a huge, beautiful diaper bag.  I loved it.  It was fashionable and had lots of pockets and bling.  I stuffed the bag with diapers, a wet sack, a patterned wet wipes travel container, an extra soother, extra breast pads, a baby blanket, sleeper, baby snacks, a snack for me, water bottle, travel sized baby ointments and lotions, and then all my gear like phone, wallet, first aid tin, chap stick, and so forth.

By baby number three, my routine had drastically changed. 

Now, along with my standard purse items (wallet, phone, chap-stick, Band-Aids, etc) I just stuff a few things into my skinny shoulder bag: two diapers, a few wet wipes in a plastic sandwich bag, some tissues, and a snack.  If it’s cool, I have an extra blanket and if we are travelling long distances I might carry an extra set of clothing.  No more diaper bag.

Only once did we have a problem with my under-packed bag.  We were on family vacation and visiting a marine aquarium (Gulf World in Panama City Beach, in fact).  And, the baby had a blow-out!  You know,  the kind where poop just goes everywhere in an amazingly unimaginable way! 

So, hubby and I both went in the vacant women’s washroom to manage this unbelievable mess with paper towels, toilet paper, the sink, and a change into a fresh diaper.  However, I didn’t actually have a change of extra clothes on hand.

But, no biggie… we went to the gift shop and bought her a fancy new souvenir t-shirt.  Sure, she was only 6 months old and the smallest size they had was 2 year toddler, but it worked!  She looked so cute in that huge shirt and it’s a fun memory when she wears the now, properly-fitting, shirt.

A woman wearing a purple cross-shoulder bag as her mom purse

Being ready for your child’s individual needs:

Sure, I know.  Your kids are different and they need special ‘things’:  lovies or blankets they can’t live without, particular drinking cups and bibs, or special foods and activities.

I understand, I carried around a lot of baby paraphernalia.  With baby number one we used these fantastic silicone suction-cupped place mats when we went to restaurants.  They were great!  Baby just ate off the mat and we knew it was clean.  The mat even had a small catch trough to keep food from falling on the floor.  Then, when we were done at the restaurant, we rolled up the mat and brought the mess home with us!  

I also carried small, disposable, change mats so I wouldn’t have to lay baby down on anything dirty during diaper changes.  As he got older I stopped using the diaper bag, but still stuffed my purse to capacity.  I started carrying his special sippy bottle and pounds of his favorite treats in fancy ‘spill-proof’ treat cups.  Then, when he became a toddler, I started lugging around a collapsible toddler toilet seat.  Afterall, he was fussy when it came to public washrooms, and I wanted him to be comfortable.

But what about my comfort?

I hated carrying such a big bag. It hurt my shoulders and it made me avoid longer walks.

So, I stopped.

I got anxious thinking about how to be prepared when we played at the park or went for a stroll around the block.  I wanted to be able to go for walks in the woods without feeling over-burdened, but I still wanted to make sure I felt well-prepared.

The first change I made was getting rid of my fancy bag. 

1. Get yourself a comfortable, smallish cross-body bag or back pack

I recommend you go out and find yourself an appropriate mom purse: I love my bag. It’s strap crosses my chest and the bag sits comfortably against my bag. Like this one or this one.  These can be very comfortable to wear.  Mine has a pocket for water (or bear spray) and I feel fine wearing it into the woods, to the grocery store, and out for dinner.

Edited to add now that I’m over 40: I have now switched to a small backpack as I was noticing shoulder and neck pain that I think may have been linked to wearing a cross-body bag.

2. Sort your stuffs

Dump the contents of your current diaper bag and purse out on the floor.

Now that you can see everything in your current bags, start sorting. Put all your mom essentials beside your new mom-purse / bag.

You’ll likely be setting aside things like:

  • your wallet,
  • keys,
  • phone,
  • lip stick / chap stick,
  • hand sanitizer
  • reusable shopping bag…

…you know, that stuff you always keep in your purse.

Take a good few minutes to look at everything else you’ve been carrying around.  When was the last time an item was used?  How big or heavy is it?  Is it important or necessary?

3. Add in the ‘always-have-these-on-hand’ items for your child’s needs

Your goal is to have your purse ready for play at all times… this means, your purse needs to be light enough to walk comfortably with it, and filled with enough ‘essentials’ that you’ll feel comfortably prepared grabbing it and heading out the door.

So go ahead and put all the essentials into your new mom purse. But, only the essentials.

all the items found in a mom purse, diaper, sunglasses, keys, emergency kit, shopping bag, wallet, snacks, baby wipes.
Pack your mom purse so you’re always ready for family fun

If you are in the diaper stage:

Throw 2 diapers into a large Zip-Lock baggie. Tuck a smaller Zip-Lock of wet wipes into that bag. In a pinch, if clothes get soiled, you can bring these home in the larger Zip-Lock.  And, if you’re into having pretty accessories, you could treat yourself to a handmade diaper pouch, like this one.

You will need to replenish more often, but I preferred replenishing over carrying more weight.

Pack snacks that won’t get crushed.

For 10 years I carried Fruit-To-Go in my bag. The Fruit-to-Go bars can get bent and squished and sat on and are still perfectly fine to eat!  I also like apple sauce in pouches for the same reason… they travel in the bottom of a bag well and kids love them!

As my kids got older their preferences changed and I started carrying around granola bars instead… but they don’t hold up to being in the bottom of a bag as long as the dried fruit bars.

A few other tips and suggestions:

An outside drink pocket is super handy for a water bottle or travel mug (this one’s my fave)… or for carrying your bear spray if that’s more your style (and need).

Add a package of tissues or just throw in those unused napkins you get from the drive-through.

Some moms like to keep all their mom-essentials in a separate bag within their bag. You could get another pretty handmade pouch for this or just reuse some ziplock bags.

Keep an extra menstrual pad in your bag… seriously, you can use them to wipe up the water at the bottom of a wet slide, hold over large wounds (which hopefully never happens), and they also work as a stand-in when you forget your breast pads and you’re leaking all over the place. Yes, I’m talking from experience here!

Some last additions worth considering:

  • individually packaged moist insect repellent towelettes,
  • travel-sized sun screen,
  • an Epi-pen if that’s something you need to have nearby,
  • a small baggie with a notepad and crayons and stickers (great for unexpected waits),
  • and mints (I’m always surprised how letting them have one of mommy’s special mints can still rescue any sort of mishap).

And don’t forget a mini first aid kit!

Fill a small tin or baggie with a few essentials and throw this into the bottom of your bag. I’ve been carrying one for years and it has come in handy on numerous occasions. 

Here’s what I keep in my little tin:

Now your mom purse is always ready for adventure!

You don’t have that huge diaper bag to lug around nor do you need to spend five minutes before heading to the playground to sort though and decide what you need to bring.  Just grab you bag and head out the door… to the park, into the woods, or just to the grocery store.  Make your life easier, give your shoulders a break, and go play outside!

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3 thoughts on “Packing your mom purse for outdoor adventure”

    1. Hi Lexi, I actually use a small pink one (that glitters and looks like a cat!) which I found at a used store. So, really, nothing fancy at all for my day to day bag / purse. The straps are wide and padded, the bag is very lightweight, and it sits perfectly on my back without moving around too much. I looked at buying a specific smaller ‘day pack’, but I found they were heavy even without anything in them – and pricey. If I’m heading out for a full day adventure, I tend to use our daypack (regular sized backpack).

  1. I have a couple of tips I found useful for my diaper bag:

    I always include a clean t-shirt for myself with my baby’s clean change of clothes. You WILL get drooled/spit-up/pooped on. Target and Old Navy have nice thin tees that don’t take up hardly any room.

    If the dollar store is out of baby diaper disposal bags, check the pet section for doggie clean up bags. The bags are nearly identical, and include a scented option, for the same price (75 for $1).

    I keep things organized in separate bags. I particularly like those clear plastic zippered bags that our sheet sets came in – they’re a good size and you can see everything. This helps me take inventory when I’m running late.
    Baby and mom change of clothes – check.
    Diaper change stuff – check.
    Feeding stuff (bottles, nursing cover, snacks for mom) – check.
    Miscellaneous necessities – check.

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