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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

Even during a typical day, emergencies can spring out of nowhere, and with a full schedule of classes, work, club meetings, and practices, there often isn’t enough time to go back to your dorm to grab everything you might need. That’s where the mom purse comes in. While a mom purse is just another name for a bag that has literally everything you might need in it, chances are you or a friend has had their life saved by the contents of one of these magical purses. But how does one get to the status of having a mom purse? At the most basic level, it means you have everything you need with you at all times.

However, the key to having a real mom purse is that you are not just taking responsibility for packing for yourself and your everyday routine—but you pack for your friends, the kid sitting next to you in lecture, and the random strangers you may encounter during a not-so-typical day. Whether you’ve always been the “mom” of your friend group and are looking to spice up your bag, or you’re newly aspiring to prepare your purse for any occasion, here’s a guide for the items that every mom purse needs to have, so next time an emergency arises, instead of freaking out, you can stay calm and say, “I’ve got this.”

The first step to preparing a mom purse begins in the purse itself. Anyone can carry a suitcase full of supplies with them, but it takes a true expert to cram everything you need into a reasonably-sized and stylish bag. When packed well, it can seem to fit an infinite amount of items with a little bit of room to spare. The key to this? Plenty of pockets and a flexible opening so you can fit as many things as you need without breaking a zipper.  

Once you have your ideal purse, whether it’s a large tote or a small cross-body bag, you can start to fill it with all of the essentials.

1.  Travel-size pack of tissues – you never know when you, or your friend, may sneeze, get a bloody nose, or need to wipe off some bronzer when you realize doing your makeup in the dark that morning was not such a good idea. Make sure to have at least 2 of these on you. 

2.  Extra feminine products – No matter how many apps you have tracking your monthly cycle, you never know when Mother Nature is going to spring herself on you—or a friend—so always make sure to not only pack enough for yourself but for a thankful friend or stranger. It’s safe to keep three on hand. 

3.  Hand Sanitizer – Germs can spread like wildfire in college, and after touching countless door handles, chairs, and tables throughout the day, it’s important to keep your hands clean so that you can keep yourself healthy. One small bottle should do. 

4.  Lip Balm – For preventing chapped lips and because it’s so small and easy to carry, lip balm is a girl’s best friend, especially in the winter when the dry air can be unforgiving. Only one stick is necessary, but having another that’s tinted is always good too. 

5.  Money – While a credit card and your wallet can get you through most situations, nothing beats having actual money on hand. Whether it’s for a sober ride or donating to a bake sale, having cash on hand can get you out of more situations. Keep smaller bills and no more than $50 on you at any one time unless you’re anticipating having to make a bigger transaction.  Having your debit or credit card on you means you don’t have to carry as much in cash.

6.  Gum –  Even if you brush your teeth in the morning, by the time lunch hits, your mouth has lost its minty freshness. You never know who you’ll be encountering throughout the day, and while the garlic bread at lunch may have tasted good then, you (and others around you) won’t want to keep smelling it hours later. Gum is also a great way to keep your mind focused and energized as you power through work or classes. Keep one pack of your favorite flavor on hand. 

7.  Snacks – A quick snack is a must-have if you’re going to be out all day. Being hungry can turn a productive morning into one where you’re just trying to make it to lunchtime. To stop the stomach growls and give you a much needed boost of energy, always keep a small healthy snack like a granola bar, some dried fruit, or nuts in your bag. Because let’s face it, you’re not you when you’re hangry. Keep one to two granola bars or pieces of fruit in your purse.

8.  Notebook and Pen – You never know when you’ll have an idea that you need to write down or have to quickly sketch a drawing or take notes. That’s why it’s always handy to have a notebook on hand—especially in case your phone dies and you’re left with no other option. Whether it’s for saving someone’s contact information or doodling when you’re bored, you may find a small notebook to be more important than you thought. One small notebook–or a planner–and one pen will do.   

9.  Phone – Enough said. No mom purse — or any purse for that matter — is complete without your phone. With its ability to contact anyone anywhere, look up literally anything, lead you to your next destination, take pictures, or kill time, your phone is arguably the most important item that you can have on you. Carry this with you at all times.

10.  Charger/Portable Charger – Just like what was mentioned above, phones have have become necessary part of everyone’s lives. Unfortunately, these precious devices have a habit of dying, and a dead phone can’t do you much good in any situation. To keep your phone alive throughout a long day make sure to bring a charger (or better yet a portable charger) with you wherever you go.   

11.  Lotion – Dry hands are no one’s friend.  In the winter, you often have to have to reapply lotion multiple times throughout the day to keep from getting cracked hands. You won’t believe how many friends will thank you for having this when they forget theirs. Keep one small bottle/tube on hand. 

12.  Hair ties – Even your best hair days can be ruined if the weather decides not to cooperate (thank you Storrs wind). Hair ties may also be necessary in classes like bio labs and are a great way to keep your hair out of your face so you can buckle down for an exam. Since they’re small and easy to carry, keep at least 3 on you – one on your wrist and maybe a few in your purse.

13.  First Aid Kit: Tylenol/Advil, Tums, Benadryl, Aspirin, Band-aids, Neosporin – Sudden headaches or other pains can come out of nowhere and can make a long day feel endless. To be prepared to carry on your day, make sure you have at least a handful of Advil, Tylenol, Benadryl (a complete life saver for anyone who starts having an allergic reaction), band aids and any pills you need to take in case you or a friend have an emergency. Keep a few of each pill on you, or whatever amount your doctor recommends, and at least three band aids. 

 15.  Pocket Stain Remover – Nothing compares to the disheartened feeling after getting a stain right on the middle of your new shirt. It’s distracting and embarrassing, so for a quick clean up to hold you over until you can throw it in the wash, have a small stain remover at the ready. It’s small and great to have on hand.

16.  Reusable Water Bottle – Staying hydrated throughout the day is necessary, and why waste money buying a water bottle when you can help out the environment and your wallet, with a reusable one? Whether you decide to fill it with coffee, tea, or water, it’s a good idea to have one of these wherever you may be going. If you like to have your drinks at a certain temperature, try to get an insulated bottle to keep your water cool and your hot chocolate warm.  

17.  Headphones – Sometimes you just need to tune out the rest of the world or watch a funny video before class. This is where a small pair of earbuds can come in handy. Although they’ll likely get tangled, the benefit you’ll get from having a few minutes of peace is definitely worth it.


 Having a mom purse can be a full time job, but when emergencies arise, you’ll be thankful that you’re now prepared for pretty much any situation. 








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Katie Lynch

U Mass Amherst

A Communications and Journalism Major at UMass Amherst