The other day I was sitting at my daughter’s ballet class with my two boys. In our haste to make it to her lesson on time, I didn’t grab anything to keep my boys (3 and 9 months) occupied while we waited in the lobby. So, I began ransacking my bag for random happy meal toys, snacks, or interesting items that would hold their attention. Bonus… I ended up doing a much needed cleaning and purging of my diaper bag/purse.
As I was going through my items, it reminded me of those youtube videos where the women show you what they carry in their bag. I’ll admit, this sounds so silly. I mean, why would anyone really care about the contents of your bag. But, apparently these videos are highly popular. I’ll admit I have found myself watching a few in fascination—like a train wreck—and even with a little curiosity. Maybe it’s because I learn about new products, or just find it strangely fascinating to see how others live or what they do. I mean, isn’t that really why we all love Youtube anyway? In any case, it gave me an idea.
No, I didn’t make a video, but I did think that maybe it would be mildly fascinating to share what I carry in my bag as a blind mom. And, maybe this will help a new blind parent out. I’ll spare you the typical “mom stuff” (i.e., diapers, wipes, snacks, keys, etc.) and stick to the unique essentials I keep with me on a daily basis.
- Extra bells and twist-ties—I put bells on my children’s shoes so that I can keep track of them when we are out in public like at parks, the library etc. It allows me to hear where they are and track them better. But, sometimes the bells get caught on things like the metal grates on the playground and the zip or twist ties break off. My motto, be prepared.
- Extra plastic bags –this may seem a bit odd, but sometimes locating a trash can is a bit of a challenge when you can’t scan around you visually to locate one. (I.e. like at a park or play area, etc.) If I’m by myself with my children, I don’t always want to take time to go hunting around to locate one with my cane. So, I keep an extra plastic bag in my bag for trash like food scraps or dirty diapers. I can put these items in the plastic bag and keep them in my big bag until I can locate the trash can, or get back home and throw the bag away. Grocery bags work great and you can tie them closed to keep them from spilling or stinking up your bag in the meantime.
- Small foldable cloth tote—an extra small tote like a mesh bag or those reusable grocery bags which can be folded up and made compact come in handy. For example, when I go to the library, I am usually carrying car seats and don’t have a way to carry books we may check out. It’s difficult to shove them all in my regular bag, so having an extra bag comes in handy. This is also helpful when out somewhere and you stop off to make an impulse buy but don’t have a stroller or car to carry your items home.
- Cane tips—this is a no brainer if you’re a cane user. Inevitably, your cane tip will wear out at the most inconvenient time, and trying to use a cane with a dead tip is no fun at all.
- Portable cell phone charger—okay, not really a blindness thing per say, but if you use your phone as an accessibility tool like a magnifier or scanner, these apps can take a toll on your battery. Also, you don’t want to get stuck somewhere when you need to access apps like Uber or Lyft to get yourself home. You charge the portable charger ahead of time and then keep it in your bag for when you need it. No hunting around for a place to plug your phone in.
- Carabiner clip—this is a great little accessory for hanging things on your stroller. I’ve found this very handy for times when I’m walking home from the grocery store or farmers’ market and have filled the bottom of my stroller up, or ripped the lining of it from overloading it. . . You can hook several bags on the carabiner and attach it to the handle of the stroller.
- Headphones –again, not necessarily a blindness thing, but since so many of us rely on some kind of speech to use our phones or PDA devices, headphones are almost a necessity. It helps me hear the speech on my phone better when I’m traveling in loud environments or on public transit, not to mention keeps me from annoying other passengers with my phone jabbering. And, it keeps my texts or email messages private. Also, many ATM’s are now accessible with speech installed on them and headphone jacks, but they do not always come with a set of headphones. Additionally, when my husband and I go to see movies at the theater, we like to take our own headphones rather than use the large bulky ones provided with the descriptive listening devices.
- Umbrella—this is pretty self explanatory when you walk a lot of the time. I also keep a bigger one in my stroller, but the small ones are great to keep in your bag just in case, especially if you need multiple one’s for you and your children.
In writing this, I also thought of two tips to share with new parents out there who may be trying to figure out what kind of gear to get. I find that having a messenger/cross body bag or backpack style bag is great because it allows me to have my hands free for using a cane and navigating a stroller, carrying a car seat, or holding onto a child. It also minimizes the times the bag will slip off your shoulders when you bend down to pick something up or are walking along (big pet peeve of mine.) Second, since I pretty much have to carry everything I need with me rather than leaving it in a car, I find having a bigger bag that is lightweight works best. Keep in mind, you have to carry it all and may also be carrying a child on your front or back in a carrier.
So there you have it. I hope that maybe this is slightly interesting to some of you, and helpful to others. I’d love to hear of any staples other blind parents find useful to have on hand when you go out. And again, thanks for reading.