Special thanks to Fruit Shoot® for sponsoring today’s story and inspiring me to share my go bag checklist for managing life with busy kids!
One of the reasons we are busy moms is because we have busy kids. When I was pregnant with my first child, I swore I would never be one of those parents who over-scheduled their kids.
But when you’re a mom with a lot of interests, chances are you’ll have kids with lots of interests too and whether you plan it or not, the schedule fills up. If you have more than one child, the problem compounds.
This is why we joke about living in our minivans because we end up spending so much time in them chauffeuring our kids everywhere they need to go!
With all those moving parts and activities to coordinate, inevitably things get overlooked. You end up at the wrong practice field, you show up at music lessons with the wrong sheet music, or you eat dinner from a drive-thru because you forgot/didn’t have time to make a healthy dinner to bring with you.
That’s why planning and prep work are important. Since I’m busy and have so many things to remember, I like to streamline the planning and prep work into as simple a process as possible.
For me, the key to making sure we have what we need when and where we need it is to stage things where they can’t be forgotten. For example, unless I need the trunk space, camping chairs/bleacher seats and sports equipment stay in the back of my car during sports season.
When I need the trunk space for groceries, I place the equipment along the wall of the garage where I park so I remember to put it back in once the trunk is empty again.
Likewise, we keep “Go-Bags” in our mudroom. The kids swap out their backpacks for their go-bags after school.
Our mudroom is also our laundry room and where we keep our second fridge (with five kids, four of whom are teens, a second fridge is a necessity) so it’s part of our routine to swap out dirty uniforms/practice clothes for clean ones and grab some on-the-go food from the fridge.
In our last house, we didn’t have a large mudroom so our second fridge and shelves for the go-bags were in the garage by the door leading into the house. The best place for your family might be different than mine.
The important thing is to stage your items where they will be most convenient and accessible for your family’s needs.
Prepare Your Go Bags
Each of your kids’ go bags might be different. My teen daughter’s go bag has gymnastics-specific equipment and pain medication and ointments that I know she is mature enough to use wisely. Likewise, my teens all have cell phones so their go-bags include portable chargers, which my 10-year old daughter doesn’t need.
Meanwhile, my youngest child is also the child who want so sign up for anything and everything – chorus, Spanish, basketball, lacrosse, piano lessons, coding class. She’s always pursuing new interests, and then practices them at home.
So, while she doesn’t need a lot of the things I pack in the older kids’ bags, her go-bag is the biggest. Otherwise, we’d need separate go-bags for each day of the week. And knowing me, we’d grab the wrong one because I’d mix them up.
Also, as seasons change, you’ll need to repack each go bag. My boys don’t need sunscreen for wrestling season. And they don’t need gloves for lacrosse season.
If you have too many items they don’t need in the bag, the bags become a burden and end up collecting a lot of unnecessary items.
Go Bag Pack List
Below is a comprehensive list of all of the items that I include throughout the year in my kids’ go bags. Not all of my kids need/use all of the items all of the time.
I use the list to check against their bags to make sure each of them has what they need for that time of year and I re-evaluate as the weather changes or they shift into new activities.
Here are all of the items you will likely need throughout the year:
Reusable Water Bottle – to make it easy to stay hydrated. Kids can refill them at any drinking fountain or sink.
Other Drinks – as an after activity treat and to encourage hydration. I buy Fruit Shoot® drinks for my daughter because they’re less messy and more durable than juice pouches and boxes and can re-seal so I don’t have to worry about spills in her bag or in the car.
I’m also a big fan of the fact that they contain no artificial flavors, no high fructose corn syrup, and come in a no sugar added version too. Fruit Shoot® has been very popular in the UK but is relatively new to the US.
You can find out where they are available in your area here ==>> WHERE TO BUY.
Fruit Shoot just released a new Fruit Punch flavor, which is my daughter’s new favorite.
Snacks – to keep them fueled for all those activities. I always keep bags of trail mix on hand and encourage them to take a piece of fresh fruit from the fridge when they are grabbing their Fruit Shoot® drinks.
Towel – to dry off after showering, a rainy practice, or to wipe away sweat.
Sports Gear/Equipment or Practice Materials – everything they need for their activities. Each day when the go bag comes home, items that need to be cleaned are removed from the bag, cleaned and set on/near the bag to dry.
Dirty Clothes Bag – to keep dirty items from contaminating clean ones. It also helps prevent leaving a lone dirty sock behind when you take the dirty clothes out to launder them.
Protective Eyewear – goggles or sunglasses, depending on the activity.
Spare Change – for buying snacks or beverages from vending machines in the event these items didn’t get restocked in the go bag.
Disposable Rain Poncho – lighter and more compact than a raincoat. More useful than an umbrella if your child needs it for outdoor sports.
Cash – just in case. Whether your child’s practice runs long and he needs to buy dinner or the due date for the t-shirt order is due and you forgot to send in a check.
Emergency Contact Numbers – these can be stored in a cell phone, but I recommend having them written down as well in the event the cell phone is damaged and your child has to borrow someone else’s phone.
Change of Clothes – especially important if your child has more than one activity. Spills, tears, and other accidents happen. Extra Pair of Glasses/Contacts – because again, accidents happen.
Portable Charger – if your child carries a cell phone, this is helpful for when they need to reach you but their phone battery is dead.
Sports Tape/Bandages and Antibacterial Ointment – if your child is involved in an activity where she’s likely to get hurt, chances are these items will be on hand. However, if they’re like my kids, they don’t like to waste time when they’re at practice so they like being able to take care of minor cuts on their own in just a few seconds.
Instant Cold Pack – the best way to prevent or reduce swelling for some injuries is to ice them right away and these packs make it easy to do even on the hottest days.
Ibuprofen – another great way to reduce inflammation and minor aches and pains. I only pack this for my older kids who I know are responsible with medication.
Antihistamines – essential for allergy-suffering kids who love outdoor activities. Also helpful to have on hand in case your child is inadvertently exposed to a new allergen and breaks out in hives (happened to me).
Epi-Pen – if your child has one, you probably didn’t need the reminder to put this in the bag. But just in case, it’s on the list anyway.
Sunscreen – a necessity for ANY outdoor activities.
Bug Spray – a big help if your child is like my daughter (a mosquito magnet).
Gloves – protects hands in winter not only from the cold, but also from the wind and snow/ice.
Hat – works wonders at holding in body heat during cold weather.
Book – something to keep kids occupied (and not attached to their phones) while they’re waiting to be picked up from practice.
Personal Hygiene Bag – deodorant, feminine hygiene products, toothbrush and toothpaste (if you have kids in braces or cavity-prone kids like mine)
Study Materials – downtime between activities is a great time to sneak in some extra studying. I’ve put all of these items on a printable checklist so you can post it where you store your go bags as a reminder. I’ve left some blank spaces so you can add your own items as well.
What’s Your Child’s “Thing”?
Sometimes I feel like my youngest daughter is interested in doing EVERYTHING. Each of my older kids has their own “thing” whether it be math, gymnastics, video games or wrestling. My youngest child is always trying new things and for each one she proudly proclaims, “It’s my thing!”.
I love that Fruit Shoot® has launched a campaign called “It’s My Thing,” that champions individuality and celebrates self-expression. Whether your kids have one thing or lots of things, hopefully they are doing things they love and that bring them joy.
With all the pressure to grow up faster, meet standards and expectations, and follow rules and routines, kids have to deal with a lot of trying to please other people. The “It’s My Thing” campaign is about letting kids be kids – doing their own thing, whatever it is!
So, brag on your child a little and share with me in the comments what his or her thing is. I’d love to hear what makes your child special!