Being a parent means being prepared, right? Even the best of us have been caught without on enough occasions that the following read more like a checklist than a wishlist. While we know you’ve likely got a mini first-aid kit, your phone and your wallet on hand, here are the other things that every mom who will need to save the day (and that is all of us) will no doubt tote about.

Wipes, Baby, Wipes

It might seem like a no-brainer to keep some kind of wet wipe handy in your bag, but once you're not toting a diaper bag anymore you often leave the wipes at home. Don't upgrade to antibacterial wipes: stick with something like a travel pack of baby wipes, because they are more multipurpose—they can wipe surfaces, faces and butts all safely without added chemicals that might cause irritation. 

A Mini Notebook & Pens

Every restaurant everywhere has coloring paper and crayons, but what happens when you're standing in line at check out, waiting for the bus or just trying to amuse the kids in a waiting room? A little junior sized spiral notebook and a few pens or pencils is about all you need to rock their world. Challenge them to tic-tac-toe, get them to "record" notes about the situation or have them sketch an escape plan—give the kids the power with a special little book that lives in mom's bag. 

photo: Smuckers

Snacks That Won't Ruin Your Bag

No matter how short of a time you are out, nor how recently you've eaten, the risk of a hangry kid is too great to not keep a small stash of snacks in your bag. The key? Finding one that won't crumble or smear all over and that packs a nutritious punch. We love Jif Power Ups Chewy Granola Bars because they are super-yum and have 5 grams of protein in each bar. Check out Jif Power Ups Creamy Clusters, too, for a super easy on-the-go snack with staying power. 

A Manageable Toy Arsenal

Leila G., mom of two boys, keeps a small baggie with little toys in it—Matchbox cars, stashed goodie-bag scores like mini puzzles or bouncy balls—in her mom bag at all times. And get this: she actually keeps several small sandwich bags with a variety of small toys in a basket up high in her pantry. When she's grabbing snacks for the kiddos, she grabs one of these bags, too, and tosses it into her purse. She regularly rotates them out so there's always a "surprise" for those moments when the kids really need a distraction. Genius #momhack! 

Undies (for Them, Not You)

Any parent of a potty training-aged kid will attest to the beauty of a stash of undies and bottoms for their littles. And just because they are mostly trained at home or school, doesn't mean accidents won't happen. When you're on the cusp and planning to be out all day, keep a pair on hand. Better yet, keep them inside a gallon-sized freezer bag rolled up at the bottom of your purse—perfect for stashing the wet things when you've changed. 

A Travel Toothbrush

Many a child has passed out on the commute home, not long after stuffing their face with a sticky, sweet treat. Avoid the "wake up and brush your teeth" scenario that awaits (or worse) by bringing along a travel toothbrush and paste. After dessert at the restaurant, hit the loo and give their teeth a quick brush while they're in there. If they fall asleep on the way home, at least you'll have done your dentist proud. 

—Amber Guetebier

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