Mama Must-Haves: Handbag Edition


I don’t know when my handbag addiction reached its peak, but I do know the exact moment it began. Several decades ago, I had a crisp $20 bill in whatever bag I carted around at the time — most certainly acquired from a thrift store (the bag, not the money).

I found myself in one of those teeny bop stores that has long since liquidated their merchandise. On a rack, a crossbody bag the size of a deck of cards beckoned me. After careful deliberation, I parted with my $20. The bag was tan, tiny, had a mirror, and could fit a small pack of tissues and Chapstick in it. That’s all it took for me to decide that I needed it in my life. Nowadays, I’d be hard pressed to fit my keys and a credit card in that thing, let alone a phone. But teens in the late ’80s didn’t have a whole lot of stuff to schlep around.

Moms in 2018 are a different story. Whether you are a bag person or not, there’s a good chance you’ve found yourself carrying around much more than a wristlet these days.

My son recently turned four, and while I’m no longer carrying diapers around in a bag, there are still a few items I’m loathe to leave home without — my mama must-haves, if you will:

1. Target Up & Up Wipes

‘Wiping’ should be in the job description they hand out after you give birth. (Don’t worry, I didn’t get a job description, either.) No matter the age of your child(ren), you’ll likely be carrying around wipes around for a while. I despise carting around 10,000 wipes at a time. We can be in agreement that America tends to be a land of excess; I’m all for buying in bulk, but not when it weighs me down.

Target’s Up & Up wipes in the travel section are the perfect fit. Only 20 wipes, but nowadays, since I’m generally only wiping off hands, it’s all I really need during an outing. Keep the larger pack of wipes in the car and carry around these nifty little packs instead.

2. Manicure Kit, Including Tweezers

I am fairly low maintenance, but my eyebrows are a different story. I’m also of the age where facial hair is a real thing. Sunlight and car mirrors reveal a LOT. I do my best plucking when I’m stuck in the car. Whether you’re grooming your eyebrows waiting in the school pick-up line, or using them to pull an unexpected splinter out of your son’s finger, tweezers are the tool you need.

Stash a small manicure set in your bag and think of yourself as a real life Lady MacGyver.

Carry around one of these and your friends may start referring to you as Lady MacGyver.

3. Lärabars

Mamas at any stage need ALL THE SNACKS. Lärabars are tasty, come in a variety of flavors and don’t have a lot of excess junk in them. They even come in handy smaller sizes now, so when your kids want a snack, you don’t have to give them a full-sized granola bar.

4. Old-fashioned Handkerchiefs

Do you know what I need a lot of thanks to Chattanooga’s pervasive pollen? Tissues. And unlike the teenage me, I never seem to remember to buy the small packs of them to keep in my bag. Instead, I throw a few plain white men’s handkerchiefs in my bag (get them cheap at Walmart). Just remember to toss the dirty ones in the laundry and put a clean one in your bag for next time. Bonus: if you actually shove one of these in your pocket and forget about it…you won’t get the laundry snow storm you would from a tissue.

Carry around a few old-fashioned hankies and you may never have the laundry tissue snow storm issue again.

5. Wet Bag

Wet bags are helpful for all kinds of stuff you don’t want to actually carry in your bag, like wet underwear from your child if they’ve had an accident, or muddy clothes from playing at the park. You can even put those dirty old-fashioned hankies in there. My favorites are these small ones from Planet Wise.

And while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the practice, I speak from experience when I say you can actually catch vomit in one.

6. Lipgloss

I told you I wasn’t too high maintenance, but I have graduated at least from Chapstick. I find myself daily reaching for this lipgloss: Smith’s Menthol and Eucalyptus Balm. You get shiny, healthy lips with or without lipstick underneath, AND it’s minty fresh for those days when you’ve eaten too much garlic.

You won’t catch me carrying around all of this in a handbag.

7. Kavu Rope & Longchamp Le Pliage Bags

I’ve confessed to you my bag obsession already. Whether you opt for a traditional diaper bag or handbag, there are lots of brands that fit the bill. I’ve found two brands in particular that can be used as both. (Side note: We all know how much it rains in Chattanooga…leather is NOT the smart option in this town. Canvas or nylon for the win.)

Kavu rope sling bags are plentiful in the Chattanooga area. Go to any park or playground and you’ll see a mom chasing her kids while sporting one of these bags. I tried one for several months and it didn’t work out for me. Nevertheless, lots of mamas in and around town swear by them, so clearly they’re a hit. Get yours locally at Rock Creek. New colors and patterns come out every season.

My preferred choice of bag has a higher price tag, but if it’s good enough for a princess, it’s good enough for me. Longchamp Le Pliage has always been my go to bag for traveling and every day — and guess what mamas, the nylon makes spill clean up a breeze, both inside and outside of the bag. It’s simple, minimal, lightweight and durable. You may balk at the price, but I have one that has lasted me 13 years so far and it’s still going strong. (International travelers, snag one cheaper at Duty Free!)

There you have it fellow mamas…must-haves for your bag. What would you add to the list?