Somehow, much quicker than I anticipated, I am back on the East Coast. My home coast, my favorite coast, the land of green trees and fast talkers– sorry California, you’re cool and all but I definitely belong here. I feel like I’ve been traveling for centuries, living out of a suitcase and making do and taking up space that isn’t mine. All of this was necessary and all of this has been really hard.
So here’s a little of what I’ve learned and how to make it easier.
When traveling with kids, it’s crucial that your diaper bag have everything you need and not a single thing you don’t. I had to walk through two airports with Jack strapped inside a baby carrier and Ella suddenly didn’t want to carry her backpack full of toys and activities– I didn’t need any extra weight, thank you.
This summer I’d just been using one of my big purses as a diaper bag but as our flight to California got closer, I knew that wouldn’t cut it. I definitely needed to be hands free and even though I’ve never liked diaper bag backpacks, I knew one was in my future. So I got THE prettiest one.
Just a quick review of this bag: it’s amazing. There’s plenty of room and pockets, it’s easy to carry and clean, and it’s the perfect shade of blush.
Here’s what I always have inside my diaper bag:
Snacks- This is maybe the most important. A fed child is much happier than a hungry one. I divide them into bags to make them more manageable.
Comfort Items- I always take whatever the kids normally sleep with on the plane with me. Even on road trips, I make sure they’re easily accessible and not in the trunk. Anything that will encourage sleep and calm, whether it’s a red eye or not, is key.
Water Bottle- to refill sippy cups for when you can’t or don’t have time to find a water fountain
Activities- this depends on what your child likes to do but I steer away from toys/activities with little pieces. Kids drop everything and if you have a lap child with you like I did, constantly bending down to grab something is really annoying.
Art Supplies- I put markers, crayons, and colored pencils into a soft pencil case. The diversity of utensils will hold their attention longer and putting them all together in one bag saves space.
Stickers- don’t ask me why. kids love them
Ziplock bags– These have plenty of uses. My son loves bananas but if he doesn’t finish it, I don’t want it loose in my bag so I can seal it in one of these. If you have a larger snack you want to split up, you can use these as well. I always like to have extra empty ones just in case.
Now it’s also important that you have what you need for yourself. I always keep my things separate from the kids’ stuff, in a cross body purse. You’re still hands free and the extra weight is worth having things you need be easily accessible. I always pack it with my wallet, phone, headphones, phone charger, hand sanitizer, and makeup wipes. Basically, anything personal to you that’s not for your kids that you want to be able to find quickly.
It was great and hard to be gone and it’s been great and weird to be back here. I sort of can’t believe everything I’ve done in the last few months. Taking care of the kids by myself is starting to feel like it never happened. The flight to San Francisco, too. I’m glad that the difficulty and pain of memories can slip away while the lessons remain. I know now that blessings are often disguised as trials and I hope that’s another thing I’ll never forget.