Oftentimes, as mothers we feel the need to be prepared for everything. Like Mary Poppins, we should be ready to pull literally anything and everything out of our “magic bag”. I have found the key to diaper bag organization (and my sanity) is to compartmentalize. I always select a diaper bag with no less than 4 large pockets inside: one for diapers and wipes; another for a change of clothes (including extra socks); a miscellaneous pocket for items based on where I am going that day (i.e. a grocery list and a pen, a spare phone battery pack for a day at the zoo, etc.); and the “emergency pocket”. The emergency pocket is a catch-all for those “uh-oh!” moments. This is where I keep the Tide pen, hand sanitizer, bandages, hair bands, etc. Basically, anything else you can think of to be prepared for those little, life emergencies. It’s also a good idea to store these items in a zip top bag. It helps to prevent stains inside the pocket, if anything explodes.
Compartmentalization doesn’t stop at the pockets in my bag. I also like to utilize various pouches within my bag to group items and make them easy to find. I contain all of my products that are not intended for my children (like my make-up, a mini hair brush, and lotions) in a Cole Haan pouch. It’s the perfect size to fit all of my things without taking up too much space. I have another pouch specifically for “distractions”. This pouch needs to be easy to clean; I like Le Sport Sac pouches, so I can just toss them in with the laundry. Almost every day we encounter an unexpected wait due to traffic , at the doctors’ offices, restaurants, etc.. During those times this pouch comes in handy. I like to keep a mini book, crayons, animal figurines and small “busy” toys in mine. Busy toys have to be inexpensive so you can have multiples on hand and swap them out as your child gets bored with or loses them, but not small enough to be a choking hazard. I usually pick these up while waiting in line at Lakeshore Learning. Their displays always have enough variety to keep it fresh.
Another tip: I prefer a light colored inside liner with a very simple pattern or even no pattern at all. It prevents me from having to fish around in the dark depths of my bag for 5 minutes trying to “feel” for a hairpin to keep my daughter’s hair out of her eyes. I know many moms avoid light colored interiors to try and circumvent more cleaning, however I find it saves myself time from having to dump out and reorganize my bag every few weeks.
By the way, don’t think that you have to go and ditch your favorite diaper bag, in search of one with more pockets. Lily Jade sells a brightly colored purse organizer with great pockets. This turns any bag into the perfect diaper bag choice!
The most important tip is to keep it simple. You don’t need to bring your entire house with you in your diaper bag. If there is something that won’t fit in your bag, but is really important, you can leave it in the trunk of your car or bring it with you in your stroller. It can be overwhelming to have to bring everything, everywhere. It’s also not a bad thing to rely on your community a little. If you need a bandaid and didn’t pack one, you can always turn to the mom next to you. Chances are, you’ll find someone with one and you might even make a new friend, too!
Monica manages PR and communications for the online publication I Am Not The Babysitter and other sites. She is also a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and mother to Logan and Milo.