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A Mom’s Survival Kit: DIY Guide to Creating a ‘God Help Me’ Bag

In my last post, I mentioned that when I’m getting ready for an outing with my son, I pack something that I call a ‘God Help Me Bag’ (GHMB for the purposes of this post). A GHMB is a prayer and a mom’s survival kit rolled into one. It’s a resource and tool for success (defined by you and relative to your child and the situation) in a variety of situations.

You, too, can have a GHMB. Follow this guide to create your own mom’s survival kit.

The bag I use for my mom's survival kit

Remember, I’m writing this as a mom of a toddler. That doesn’t mean you can’t get some use from this DIY mom’s survival kit guide. Consider how you can adapt the following to your own children if they’re older. (And, if you’re looking for something for dads or from their perspective about little ones, check out this post.)

The five base items of your mom’s survival kit regardless of the situation and your child’s/children’s age(s) are:

  1. Water
  2. Snacks
  3. Wipes (regardless if your child is potty trained)
  4. Extra clothing
  5. The bag itself

Even if your final destination guarantees food and beverage options, you still have the commute in between point A and B (and then C and D, etc. if you’ve got a lot planned) or the possibility that your child dislikes, refuses, or is allergic to options that are available. And they can’t go hungry or thirsty for several hours. Am I right?

fresh fruit, strawberries, blueberries

Wipes are amazing for a lot more than wiping butts, so even if your kid is potty trained and no longer in need of diapers, who knows what the power of wipes can do when something is spilled, there are no paper towels in the public restroom, your child just ate a handful of dirt, that scab finally fell off, and so much more. Wipes are critical to the survival kit. (And I’m not the only one who thinks so. In fact, this other mom’s survival kit looks a lot like mine.)

What else is critical? A spare change of clothing.

From accidental spills to general play, who knows what kind of adventures and mishaps your child’s clothes will endure. Plus, if you’ve got somewhere else to be later that day, you may just want a fresh pair of clothes void of stains or moisture. (Oh and, need I say, a spare change of clothing is not just for them. You should consider a spare for yourself, too. If you don’t, you know they’re bound to hug the snot out of you with their muddy hands after they got the fabulous idea to make mud pies.)

girls playing, splashing

Now, when it comes to the bag itself, pick something that is manageable to carry- or at the very least, to load into the car; waterproof or washable, and big enough to hold all the contents of your survival kit.

Often times I find that the reusable grocery bags that you can buy in the checkout aisle are the best way to go. They are cheap to buy or replace, big enough to get some serious amounts of stuff in them, washable (for the most part,) easy enough to carry, and if they break, rip, or get left behind, it’s not really a big deal. Yes, this means that your Coach, Louis Vuitton, or Kate Spade bag shouldn’t be used for your GHMB. They may hide the mess you know is happening inside the bag, but it’s not going to be pretty when something happens to your treasured tote. And we know it’s just a matter of when not if.

Okay, so you’ve got the 5 base items to your survival kit. Now what?

Now you prepare for the special circumstances, such as:

Location

The library will require different items than taking your kiddo to church, or the movies, a birthday party at a friend’s house or some other party at the local family fun center. So, where are you heading? Are there bathrooms to use? Is there food or drink there or nearby? Is it family-friendly? How loud and energetic can your children get in this setting? I’m not sure who said it but, “location, location, location!” It’s important to your survival kit. So where are you heading? How long is the ride? Is it local or are you really getting out of here?

Weather

Does the weather impact the activity that is planned? If so, this may alter the contents of your survival kit. If you’re going someplace for outdoor activities only (park, playground, trail) and all of a sudden it’s raining, won’t it be handy if you thought ahead and threw a raincoat and boots into your GHMB?

Time range

Maybe that story hour you’re going to is right next to lunchtime; or that family bonfire is happening dangerously close to the start of usual bedtime routine; or the other families aren’t getting to the bouncy house until later in the day which is going to interrupt nap time; or maybe the thing is happening immediately before or after some other extracurricular your child/ren is involved with… how do these things impact your plan and the contents of your survival kit?

Significance of the event

Say you’ve got professional family photos happening which require combed hair, nice clothes, and not getting dirty for longer than fifteen minutes (and I’m talking about you, too, not just your kids), what do you need in your survival kit? Hairbrush. Extra outfits. Tide-on-the-go markers. Wipes. In a different scenario, let’s say you’re attending a wedding and kids have been invited, but the ceremony is likely to be super long. What do you need to keep them quiet and busy? Food. Drink. Quiet toys. Books. Ipad? (Hey, no judgment. You don’t want to interrupt anothers’ nuptials, right? What’s an hours worth of screen time on the grand scheme?)

Audience

Who else is going to be at said location, at said time, for said event, in the rain/snow/sun? The people you’re with can make a big difference. Will there be other kids and parents? If so, maybe you can ease up on all the toys, books, and other things you were thinking about bringing; there will be plenty already there. Will there be NO other kids and parents? Load up your GHMB because who knows how you’ll entertain your child/ren and still be able to have an adult conversation!

books

Once you’ve considered your circumstances, ask yourself if you should consider any of the following for your survival kit.

*Remembering you’re going for a ‘relatively successful outing’ even in the face of (more than likely) mishaps, and comical errors

  • Books
  • Diapers
  • Towel
  • Toys
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Raincoat and/or rubber boots
  • Hat
  • Garbage bag
  • Swimsuit
  • Flotation device
  • Basic first aid (think bandaids, Neosporin, children’s Advil)
  • Sleep aids (think blankies, binkies, favorite teddy bears)
  • Snow gear
  • Passports, IDs, or birth certificates (hey, I don’t know if you’re getting out of Dodge with your kids)
  • Phone charger
  • Blankets
  • In-car entertainment (music, movies, car games)
  • Camera
  • Things specific to your child’s needs (EpiPen, eyewear, prescribed medications)
  • Things specific to your needs (extra strength medicine for migraines, your favorite chocolate bar hidden in your purse just for you, deodorant)

Truthfully, here is what really belongs in your survival kit: a backup plan, a healthy dose of hope, a whole lot of patience, and an incredible sense of humor.

You’ve now thought of everything you possibly can. You’re ready (as much as you can be) for this and many other pleasant outings. Strap that God Help Me Bag on along with your smile and go have yourself a wildly successful good time. (Or, at least as successful as it can be.)

What would you put in your GHMB that isn’t already listed above?

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