First, I have a bag that I just take when I go out with the kids. It is separate from my regular work bag or date night purse. I have a pouch that moves from bag to bag with me. (It contains wallet, cards, small notebook, lip color, eyedrops, headache medicine, extra flash drive, and some brush-on sunscreen.) But in almost all of my weekend photos, you’ll see this bag slung across my shoulder.
The bag I use is LeSportsac Deluxe Shoulder Satchel, in Rifle Paper Print (which is no longer sold, but still available on ebay). It has plenty of pockets to keep things organized, and isn’t too large to haul around. It also wipes clean, and isn’t heavy to begin with, like a leather purse might be.
Inside I keep several essentials.
Waterbottle. This type by Zak is quite small and so fits standing up in the bag. It is mostly leak-proof, and with the fold-down straw, all family members can drink from it. They don’t make generic ones, so you’ll have to choose your favorite character - Target typically has a big selection.
Wipes. Mostly just for hands these days, but also the occassional little kid emergency. While I don’t like Huggies wipes much, I have one of their “clutch” cases, that I refill as needed. Though often times these days I can get by just throwing a few individually packaged wipes in the bottom of the bag. (Also collect individually packaged wipes from restaurants for this purpose!)
Sunscreen stick. Every spring (sunscreen is most effective within first 12 months after opening) I buy several of these, and stash them everywhere - my bag, my first-grader’s backpack, the car, the bike bag, etc. Great for touch-ups or when it was cloudy that morning and you forgot to put it on at home.
Snacks. An entire outside pocket of my bag is dedicated to snacks. Some combination of yogurt covered raisins, fruit leathers, granola bars, peanut butter crackers and/or gummi snacks. (My kids have recently decided they no longer like Annie’s gummies and will only eat Welch’s.) Depending on the season, might also throw in some leftover mini candy canes or Valentine’s candy.
First aid supplies. This isn’t super elaborate, mostly for scraped knees and elbows. A couple bandaids (various sizes and/or characters) and a spray antiseptic/antibiotic in a snack-sized ziploc bag or old Altoid’s tin.
Handkerchief. When the kids were littler, I’d tuck in a flour sack towel for spills and wiping up, but now I can get by with a handkerchief. I make mine out of old oxford shirts that I just cut in a square and sew the edges, but bandannas are notoriously cheap at craft supply stores. Use this as a towel or napkin, a placemat for snacks, or wrapping up leftovers (or anything else you don’t want touching other things in your bag!) to bring home.
Reuseable shopping bag. All the obvious uses apply here, but I also use it to corral all of the kids coats/hats/gloves when they inevitably shed them. Additionally, if you are headed to a museum with a coat check, consolidate all your coats to this bag to speed up the process and only need to pay for one item.
Small toys. Mostly used for when we are waiting somewhere, typically at a restaurant. I try to pick up items from the Target dollar store when something catches my eye. Magic Ink books are usually a hit. One trick is to keep figurines here that you know your children enjoy, and only let them play with them out and about. My youngest asks for the couple Transformers I keep in my bag every time we go to a restaurant, which prevents him asking for something I don’t want to give - like my phone.
Occassionally I add items to this. If our destination is a museum that has a kids play area with water, I’ll roll up an extra tshirt for each of them in a gallon size Ziploc bag. If I know we are going to end up at a playground, sometimes I throw in some Matchbox cars to race down the slides. But these items provide the base needs for most of our adventures.
What do you keep in your bag? What else do you recommend?