Almost as important as knowing what to carry in your diaper bag is knowing what NOT to carry. When Bean was born, I tried carrying everything he could possibly need in my diaper bag every time we went out. Actually, I have to confess that I carried a diaper bag like that when Gracie was born, too. And the only thing that made me change what I toted around was that I simply couldn’t fit it all in the bag. So I had to readjust. Had I known how easy readjusting would have been, I would have streamlined my diaper bag from Day One. The thing I learned about slimming down my diaper bag is that just because it’s not in my diaper bag doesn’t mean it won’t be there when I need it.
For example, I used to carry several diapers, a container of diaper wipes, a tube of diaper rash cream, and a diaper changing pad. But when Gracie came along, and before Bean was potty trained, I just couldn’t carry around two different size diapers along with all of that diaper stuff. Plus, I found that I hardly ever changed the kids out in public. I hate using public restrooms, so I usually took the kids out to the car to change them on the backseat, if I had to change them at all. I decided to streamline my diaper bag by leaving all of my diaper changing stuff in my car instead.
Now, I keep my diaper changing pad, a small pack of diapers, wipes, and diaper cream in the very back of my SUV in a reuseable grocery bag. If Gracie needs a diaper change while we’re on the go, I take her out to the car and change her there.(By the way, there have been only two times I’ve had to actually LEAVE a store due to a diaper situation.)
Another thing I streamlined was carrying a purse. My diaper bag isn’t too big (which I like), so my purse never fit neatly inside of it. Usually, I tried to either stuff it in the top, which never worked out, or tried to carry it on my shoulder along with the diaper bag (and Gracie or Bean, if I had to carry one of them). It was too much. So I went on the hunt last year for a larger wallet carrying thing that would carry my wallet, cell phone, and maybe a chapstick tube. I tried all kinds of wallets, but nothing worked quite right. I wanted something small enough to stick inside my diaper bag when I was out with the kids — or in my purse if I was going somewhere by myself. I finally found just what I was looking for around Christmas. I bought this really cute wristlet by Coach (thanks to a gift card from my mother-in-law!).
It is very thin and small to carry or throw into a diaper bag or purse, but it actually holds a lot of things. I fit my entire wallet in there (including my checkbook!), plus my cell phone fits in the dollar bills fold perfectly. I even keep a clear lip gloss in the bottom of it at all times. Now I throw that into my diaper bag, into my wallet, into my school bag on weekdays, or sometimes I just carry it on its own. It has really lightened my diaper bag load.
The last thing I have started leaving out of my diaper bag are a lot of toys. I used to carry a bunch of hand toys for Gracie and a bunch of bigger kid toys for Bean. But what I’ve found is that usually when we’re out somewhere, the kids are much more interested in what we’re doing and where we are than they are in their toys. Now, I carry one or two toys, depending on what we’re planning to do while we’re out. I couldn’t believe how much lighter my diaper bag load became when I eliminated about half of the toys I carried around that never got used. These days, I have a small bag of various toys in my car that I keep there and I usually grab one or two out of that to toss into my diaper bag when we’re out.
Diaper bags are essential when you have kids, but sometimes they can become quite the nuisance when you stuff too much into them. Knowing what to take is important, but knowing what you can live without is almost as important. If you think your bag is too heavy, cumbersome or disorganized, dump it out on your floor and make two piles — one pile of things you use every time you’re out and one pile of things you have never used. Kick the never used stuff to the curb (or at least to your car!) and try to whittle your “always use” pile down to half its size. You’ll be amazed at how much lighter you’ll feel and how much better you’ll get around!