Cheerios and ChapStick might cut it for your average mom, but here in LA we’ve got our own special arsenal of gotta haves on the go. Because living in and around Hollyweird requires a whole litany of things only and every LA mama lugs around in her designer tote or handcrafted boho bag. We peeked in a few hundred bags and came up with this list of what LA moms typically tote.

Baby bag by Il Tuttophoto: Il Tutto

1. Sunscreen
It’s a necessity with the sun blazing pretty much year-round. If we have room, we carry three types: an expensive anti-aging version for our own precious face, a chemical free one for the kiddos along with an easy pump spray-on kind for reluctant escape artists.

2. Gluten-Free Snacks
Most people in LA can agree on one common enemy: gluten. Thus the snacks for our always-ravenous offspring might include one of the following: organic fruit rolls, fruit crushers, kale chips and anything with seaweed or quinoa. Goldfish are so 2008.

Purse with Trader Joe's food crusherphoto: Sylvie Greil

3. Makeup Bag
We schlep around a full bag of makeup, eyelash curlers, concealer and all. That’s because we do our makeup in our cars! Any stop at a red light is an opportunity to put on our game face. Next stop: eyebrow gel.

4. Crumbs
Yes, crumbs. You’d think that LA moms are “all chic all the time” and the truth is, yes, we are. But the dark underbelly of a busy life is a purse full of crumbs from the grubby little critters we chauffeur all over town.

5. Cash
We live in a cashless society where all you really need is plastic—or your smart phone for scanning. But you need cash for tipping valets! Alas, most car parkers aren’t (yet) set up to let you swipe your tips.

6. Portable Phone Charger
Our phones are chronically undercharged or moving toward empty. Since we gotta text, update Instagram statuses, check Waze for freeway skipping routes and post pics of our adorable ones on Facebook, we need nonstop power.

Poki by Lepow Phone Chargerphoto: lepow

7. Weird Business Cards
Everyone collects business cards. But in LaLaLand you get some weird ones: dream life coaches, the city’s top caterer, your sister in law’s psychic, the magician who can get you into the Magic Castle, a clown who will make dinosaur balloon animals at your next birthday party…

Various business cardsphoto: Sylvie Greil

8. Head Shots
These might be your own, your daughter’s or those of your pool cleaner’s four-year old, which you promised to drop off with your agent. You never know whom you might run into, so it’s best to be always prepared.

Headshot by Bracha Jade Photographyphoto: Bracha Jade Photography


9. A Really Expensive Juice
The ‘90s were the days of smoothies and fancy coffee drinks, followed in the 2000s by overpriced water bottles, eclipsed now by various green juices prized at $10-15 a pop. Because health is priceless, and those seaweed quinoa snack bars don’t get you through both fencing and circus class.

The Juice The Juice LA via Instagram

10. (Imported) Toys
Of course we have toys in our purse! Crayons and LEGOs are a given. But also faceless Waldorf dolls, Japanese bendy crafting sticks and, if our kids are young, imported, nontoxic, minimalist wooden Haba toys from Germany.

Haba toyphoto: Haba

11. Membership Cards
Where do we begin? The LA Zoo, of course, various botanical gardens—from The Huntington Library and Gardens to Descanso—the museums (LACMA, MOCA), Kidspace and the Zimmer, indoor playgrounds, Cardio Barre… And yes, we confess some expire when we’ve only made it there once in a year.  Because, traffic.

12. The Screenplay
Whether it’s yet another brilliant idea for a TV show jotted onto a cocktail napkin at the craft bar last night or a full-fledged script from two years ago, it’s important to have it handy for the right hands at the right time. Because you never know who will be in line at coffee or at pre-school pickup.

Close-up of a screenplayphoto: Rory Marinich via Flickr

13. Rocks
Rocks are like crumbs and beach sand. In an effort to provide our little ones with an outdoorsy childhood in the city, we take them on canyon explorations and foothill hikes where they find very important things to keep in our purse. Such as special rocks.

The inside of a dirty pursephoto: Sylvie Greil

14. An iPad
We’re absolutely adamant about limiting screen time, but the drives can get so long and the waits can get so grueling. That’s when the iPad is a lifesaver, with carefully pre-approved games, from Fruit Ninja to Minecraft.

iPad inside a purse

photo: AliExpress

15. Wipees
LA is a big city with big germs. From baby wipes to anti-bacterial hand sanitizers to Lysol, cleanliness is next to smartness. After all, the kids must stay healthy for all of their toddler music, baby ballerina and tiny karate ninja classes!

What are the must-haves in your purse? Let us know in the comments.

—Sylvie Greil