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The Mom Purse Arsenal: 15 Items To Help You Be Prepared for Almost Anything

I’ve been a mom for over eleven years. And in those eleven years, I’ve learned many lessons about being a mom. While so many of these eye-opening experiences have been important and life changing, one of the most stress-reducing and time-saving lessons is super simple – be prepared! Over the years (pre and post diaper bag), I’ve kept a variety of items in my purse that have become invaluable. My friends and family often joke about my purse calling it the “Mary Poppins Bag’ or the ‘black hole’, but they are never laughing when they come asking me for a certain object that they know I will have readily available with just a reach into my purse. :)

I’m not talking about the normal everyday items that you pack into your diaper bag like bottles, sippy cups, diapers, wipes, a change of clothes (although keeping a change of clothes readily available in your car for a child of any age is HIGHLY recommended). I’m talking about those times when you are without the diaper bag (whether on purpose or by accident), or have children old enough that you don’t carry a diaper bag any longer. Moms can guarantee that whether you run out of the house for a quick errand (and we all know they never actually end up being ‘quick’), or find yourself stranded at the doctor’s office on a day when they are running horribly behind schedule, it always helps to be prepared for the unexpected.

Before I give you the list of items that I currently keep stocked in my purse AT ALL TIMES, let me preface this list by saying that you must have a decent sized handbag if you are a mom. No cute clutches or small super cute purses will suffice. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have several small handbags that I save for those fun nights out on the town with my husband or friends, but a medium to large sized handbag is a must for the hustle and bustle of life as a mom. Embrace the over-sized purse! Also, invest in some small zipper pouches. I have three in my purse right now so that my ‘must haves’ are organized and I don’t have to dig down into the ‘black hole’ to find what I need. Lastly, remember that just because you have a ‘mom purse’ doesn’t mean it can’t be trendy or chic!

Now for the list! Here’s 15 items that you might want to consider throwing in your purse before you venture out with the kiddos the next time. Most, if not all of these items are available in travel size to save space.

    • Hand Sanitizer – We’ve all been in a public restroom where you cringe at the thought of touching the hand soap dispenser or the faucet knobs, let along letting your child touch them. Or what about when you turn around to find your child crawling around on the floor in the store playing hide and seek with their siblings (or merely hiding from you)? It’s times like these, and so many others, that hand sanitizer comes in handy.
    • Bug Repellant – I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been playing at the park or outside somewhere when evening comes and the bugs come out. Having a handy dandy travel size bug repellant in my purse has been a lifesaver!
    • Sunscreen – I also keep a travel size sunscreen in my purse just in case. Normally if I know the kids are going to be out in the sun, I apply sunscreen before we ever leave the house. But there have been those times when I forget, or have had a change of plans that have ended with us being out in the sun for an extended amount of time. You never know when you might need it!

    • Small Toys – These are probably self explanatory, but they seriously come in handy when you are trying to entertain a child in the store, in the car, at the doctor’s office…. pretty much anywhere. We opt for small action figures, Hot Wheels cars, small boxed card games like Go Fish, and small flashcards. I have even kept puzzle pieces in a baggie and let the kids do a puzzle on the floor of the doctor’s office. I do recommend switching out whatever toys you keep in your purse from time to time. Gives the kids a little variety. :) While we are on the subject of entertaining the kids, if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch (and a toddler), you will definitely want to check out HappiTaps. You can read about it here on my blog. It’s an iPod Touch/iPhone case and app combo that features an adorable and friendly bear. It’s not that expensive and is worth every penny. HappiTaps has provided great entertainment for my three year old on many occasions.
    • Hair Paraphenalia – A small hairbrush and a couple barrettes or hairbands come in handy if you have little girls or even just for you!
    • Nail Polish – I know you probably think I’m crazy, but nail polish has proven to be a fabulous addition to my purse. If you have little girls, keep one or two small bottles of nail polish in your purse to pull out when you get stuck somewhere and your little princess needs to be entertained. I opt for small bottles of Piggy Paint. It’s an all natural nail polish that doesn’t have any yucky fumes or harsh chemicals, perfect for keeping in my purse. My girls have enjoyed this little addition to my ‘be prepared’ arsenal ever since they were toddlers.
    • Hold-On Handles – When your preschooler gets to the phase where they are getting too big to ride in the shopping cart or the stroller and they want to walk alongside it but don’t always do a good job of staying close, invest in some Hold-On Handles or something similar. These have been a real lifesaver since Luke decided he’s too big to ride in the shopping cart. Hold-On Handles are basically a handle on a strap that attaches to any shopping cart or stroller.
    • Boogie Catchers – This one is an obvious, but just in case you don’t normally carry them with you, grab a travel size package of tissues or our favorites, Boogie Wipes, to help with those unexpected (or expected) boogies.
    • Antibacterial Wipes – I know, I know. You’re thinking this is redundant since I already have Boogie Wipes and hand sanitizer on the list, but a good ‘ole antibacterial wipe comes in handy almost everywhere. From wiping down shopping cart handles to wiping off sticky fingers, antibacterial wipes are great to have on hand.
    • Sewing Kit – You can usually find these in the travel section at most mass retailers. Having a thread and needle or a couple safety pins on hand is always nice when you have energetic little boys who often lose a button or rip their pockets. :)

    • Anti-Itch Product – Whether it’s a small tube of anti-itch cream, or our favorite, a Benadryl Itch Relief Stick, when the kiddos start complaining of an itch it’s helpful to have something on hand. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been out and about and one of my children will start complaining of a bug bite that itches. We all know that when kids itch, they think they are dying! Having an anti-itch product on hand (especially during the warm months) is a must for this momma. It stops the itching and the whining!
    • Stain Stick – This is probably the most sought after piece of my ‘be prepared’ arsenal by my friends and family. I use it on the kiddos too, but mostly it’s used on adults. :) It never fails. Ice cream, ketchup, milkshakes, soda… it gets spilled on me all the time, and normally not by me! Usually, by a small child who I happen to be sitting next to. My Tide To-Go pen is my BFF!
    • Lip Balm – Again, this is probably a ‘no brainer’, but it’s something that I used to always find myself without. Just remember that kids’ little lips get chapped too.
    • First Aid Kit – Boo-boos happen anytime, anywhere. So be prepared with a small travel size first aid kit. We like the I’m OK! first aid kits for kids which feature fun themed bandages and a reassuring ‘I’m OK’ message, but as long as you have some antibiotic cream or first aid wipes, and a few different sizes of bandages, you should be covered.
    • Snacks and Treats – Keeping small snacks and treats on hand is so helpful when those unexpected “I’m hungry!’ cries happen. And let’s face it, with kids, that’s all the time. :) I like to keep dried fruit, fruit snacks, raisins, or granola bars in my purse. Try to pick items that will holdup well to the abuse they may experience in the bottom of your purse. Also, I keep a couple lollipops on hand for those toddler meltdowns that can only be remedied by a lollipop.

Do you have a ‘must have’ in your purse that’s not on the list? Please share!

My name is Angie, and I'm a homeschooling mom of four who fills my days with ABC's and mounds of laundry. My husband of 13 years and I have been blessed with two girls (ages 11 and 9), and two boys (ages 7 and 3). I've become an expert at flying by the seat of my pants, and after a normal tiring day with the kiddos, I like to curl up on the couch and escape into a good book. I blog about my crazy family, homeschooling, and fun finds at
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  1. You are one prepared mama! I’d say the only thing not on your list that is on mine are wipes and those organic food pouch things (perfect for an on the go snack).

    • I’ve been caught unprepared too many times. :) Now I make sure that won’t happen again. Good add-ons!

  2. Wow. That’s a lot of goodies you’ve got there. I should probably take notes!

    Only thing, I can’t thread a needle to save my life, so I’d probably need a seamstress in my bag too.

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  5. Avatar of socalgal

    socalgal says:
    May 22nd at 1:19 am

    I had to laugh because this reminded me of the old show where they would ask women in the audience if they had a certain item in their purse. The first one to present it won something. Was that The Price is Right? Anyway, it makes for one large, heavy purse… but it’s worth it to be prepared. Thanks for the list!

    • I think it was ‘Let’s Make a Deal’, and when we’ve played those games at ladies meetings at my church, I often win!

      Actually these items don’t end up being too heavy, and dividing them into zippered pouches make it so much less chaotic.

  6. Boogie Wipes are my #1 Mommy Must Have! I love this list and agree with it…now if I could just get all that stuff in one place ;)