Our “Going To the Park” Bag

posted by Andrea | 05/6/2015

our going to the park bag

As I’ve mentioned MANY times already, we’re big on walking pretty much anywhere we can walk.

Thankfully, even though we live in a 125 year-old farmhouse on a little one-acre plot, we are right in the center of a small town — so we are literally walking distance to almost anything we need or want to do.

We use our double stroller or our new double bike trailer/stroller to tool around town almost every day (unless it’s raining). The kids LOVE it, and I figure the extra steps and fresh air won’t hurt me any 🙂

Now that the kids are getting a bit older, and Simon is finally walking well, we’ve been experimenting with walking to a few local parks, playing for a while, and then walking back.

Our current favorite park is about a 30-minute walk one way, so that means we’re gone for about 2 hours or more when we decide to go to that park. That also means I need to make sure to pack snacks, drinks, hand wipes, some toys, an extra sweatshirt in case it’s cold, hats, sunglasses, diapers and wipes (just in case), and anything else we might want or need while we’re gone.

I realized I was starting to dread going to the park because it would take me so long to gather everything up, and the kids would always want or need something I didn’t bring, and it just started feeling like too much work…

…until I created our “going to the park” bag! 

This bag is nothing fancy, expensive, or complicated, and is basically exactly like what it sounds — a bag filled with all the “essentials” we might need on our walk or once we arrive at our destination.

Here are some of the things I keep inside:

  • Snacks and gum
  • Extra water bottle (mostly just if we need to wash something as we always take our water bottles along)
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
  • Hats for each kid
  • BandAids, Neosporen, and Anti-Itch Cream
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Hand sanitizer and Chapstick
  • A couple burp cloths
  • A beach towel (for drying off slides, swings, picnic tables, or for sitting on to eat a snack)
  • Bubbles and a few sand toys
  • Plastic grocery bags for trash or for bringing “treasures” home

Everything fits neatly inside one of our smaller (but very durable) shoulder bags so I can either hang it from the stroller, put it in the basket under the stroller, or carry it over my arm when necessary.

And since I refill it whenever we get home again, it’s ALWAYS ready to go whenever we’re up for an impromptu walk or trip to the park.

I keep the bag on one of the shelves in our mudroom closet so all we need to do is put on our shoes, grab the bag (and maybe our sunglasses and/or jackets) and we’re on the road!

It might sound super simple (and it is!) but this little bag has saved me loads of time and assures that we always have what we need when we’re out and about in our stroller!

Do you have any type of “grab-and-go” bag for walks or parks or beaches? 

our going to the park bag

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37 comments

  1. Megan

    06/20/2015

    I have a similar bag but it is our Grab and go back for swimming! We belong to our local private lake and swim every day in the summer. I have a bag that is filled with everything we need to go swimming and then when we get home at night I just wash the towels and bathing suits and put them right back in the bag and we are ready to go the next day. It makes it so much easier to have it all packed and ready to go.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — daily pool trips!! sounds lovely (but also exhausting to think about traipsing 2 tiny tots to a pool at this point in my life!)

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    Megan Reply:

    Well, my kids are 12,10,8,7 and 3 so it is a bit more manageable than having two toddlers–although I remember those days of 2 toddlers (and babies well)!

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  2. Katie

    05/08/2015

    We’ve been searching for a fun outdoor spot to play in Hudsonville, but haven’t had any luck. What park do you like to go to?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    you can actually just Google “parks in Hudsonville” or go to the Hudsonville city website to see what’s available. However, we like Hughes Park 🙂

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  3. sarah

    05/07/2015

    I have various bags that I keep at different times. My one that is always in the car us a restaurant bag. We eat out a decent amount and I have various items to keep the kids busy at a restaurant while waiting. It is better than taking a tablet or electronic device. I do something similar for the pool in the summer. I have a large 31 bag packed with our towels, sunscreen, swim diapers and wipes and toys for the pool. Add a cooler and we are set.

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  4. Amy

    05/07/2015

    I have a smaller cooler with bottles of water always in the extra fridge. I put ice packs in and take it to the kid’s baseball games all summer. It saves time and money. Plus, the ice packs have come in handy to cool kids off or put on injuries.

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  5. Pani

    05/07/2015

    We have a smaller version as DD is almost 5 and doesn’t need much more than snacks, hand sanitizer and water. Btw, Ours also includes a pack of chalks! It can entertain a bunch of kids , drawing , writing alphabet, hopscotch…
    And the swim bag is a real life and time saver, who remembers to take goggles and plastic bag for wet stuff all the time? 🙂
    I just keep remembering other prepared bags :)) small Coloring book and a pack of crayons, small markers, color pencils (alternative) since she was much younger, for restaurants and coffee shops.
    And the folder for music class … I could keep going 🙂

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  6. Beth

    05/06/2015

    I like the bags for destinations idea. I currently have bags for me (work bag), diaper back pack (when 22 mo is with me). Then we have an Uh Oh Box in each vehicle. In it is all the extras we might forget… Extra diapers, wipes, change of clothing for each kid, sunscreen, bug wipes, bottle of water, plastic bags, hats, socks, light jacket for each, blanket, roll of quarters, sticky table place mats, usually a book and or toy like a ball age appropriate for each kid, etc. We may employ the destination bag idea!

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  7. Avia

    05/06/2015

    LIke some others have said I’ve had a “going to the pool” bag in the past. Right now I have three separate diaper bags; one goes with the kids to the babysitters, one is for I am out and about with both kids and another smaller one that goes with the 2 year old if she goes somewhere by herself (like a play date with daddy while I stay home with the baby.)

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  8. Michelle

    05/06/2015

    Quite often my husband and I decide on a whim to take a day trip. I have also found it helpful to keep an “easy to grab” bag stocked with essentials. Ours is stocked with paper plates, plastic silverware, tablecloth, paper towels, a knife, and some wet wipes. A quick stop at a small grocery store to grab lunch meat, bread and a few snacks and it keeps us out of a restaurant and we get to enjoy the magic of nature. I also keep a “doggy bag” packed as well, with a leash, small baggie of dog food, a set of dog bowls, a jug of water, and…can’t forget…a tennis ball for the dog because he gets to come along too. The little mini cooler also sets on the shelf by the door to throw some ice in to keep drinks cool. I love the Thirty-One bags for these purposes as they work so well, are just the right size, and wipe clean. I absolutely love the “going to the park” bag. I just took my grandson to the park today and could have used a few of those items. Thanks for the inspiration.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Love it! Even grownups needs their going away bags to make traveling and venturing out simpler, more organized, and more fun!

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  9. Jacquie

    05/06/2015

    Great idea! We have a swimming lesson bag that is just an add-on to the normal diaper bag. I like the idea of tailoring a few more specific bags. You would need multiples of stuff, but I already have multiples wipes/diapers/etc anyway. Now I can justify some more tote bag purchases 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well sure, go out and purchase a few more bags. After all, it’s all in the name of “simplifying” and “organizing”!

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  10. Miranda

    05/06/2015

    I have done this before. We also have a “waiting” bag that has quiet distractions in it (coloring supplies, books, stickers, doll, not-messy snack). We take that bag with to appointments, church, or anywhere else that I need to distract a 1-5 year old for a while (my older kid just keep an extra chapter book in the van, their “traveling book”).

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  11. Heidi

    05/06/2015

    What a great idea to have handy. Just grab and go…I love it! What a perfect bag to just hold everything one would need. Have to ask you Andrea, where did you find this awesome bag?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I honestly don’t know where the bag came from. I’ve had it since college and I have a feeling it was given to me. Sorry!

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  12. Abby

    05/06/2015

    I love this idea!! Thanks so much for sharing. Your blog continues to be an encouragement to me as I work towards simplifying our home and daily routines. I read every day and am never disappointed!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Abby 🙂

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  13. Carrie

    05/06/2015

    Such a great idea!!!

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  14. Jennifer

    05/06/2015

    Now my bag obession is justified! We have a church bag, an AWANA bag, a park bag, a picnic bag, a restaurant bag, and a school bag. It sounds like a ton, but the stuff would be sitting somewhere anyway, and it’s all contained in a bag! I love the idea of bringing along a towel to dry off equipment!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well, I do love a good bag (as long as it serves a purpose!)

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  15. Jennifer

    05/06/2015

    I have one of these as my’ back yard/ park’ bag. It started when my son was a baby and my older daughter was not quite 2. Our yard does not have a gate to the alley, so I had to take whatever I might need, since I could not leave them alone if I forgot something. Snacks, diapers wipes, sunscreen, bug spray, a blue jean blanket, and the cordless phone. I also have a swim bag that I keep the bathing suits, swim diapers, padlock and quarters for the lockers, comb and hair elastics. (we go to an indoor pool usually). Now that we’ve finally hit backyard weather, here in Alberta, I need to re pack my bag to include stuff for baby #3.

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  16. ShellyL

    05/06/2015

    I am definitely going to implement this idea. Our parks are a short (or long) little drive and I think we can benefit from it. I was going to chime in with the “swim bag” idea but I see someone already has. We keep a bag packed in the summer for anytime we may get an occasion to go swimming. We keep swimsuits, towels, sunscreen, arm floaties, swim diapers, etc. Basically, anything we may need for an impromptu swim trip, we keep in this bag. In the winter, I just move it to an out-of-the-way spot in the top of one of the kids’ closets. It is very convenient to not have to search out everything we need every single time we think of going swimming.
    Great, useful tip as always, Andrea!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Shelly — I might have to create a swim bag too as we’ll hopefully be doing more swimming this summer (or maybe that can be my excuse to “shoo” Dave and the 2 older kiddos out of the house so I can stay home with the babe!)

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  17. Jen

    05/06/2015

    We keep a pool bag packed all the time, because like you said, one of the biggest pains in the butt is just the prep to get out the door. I got a really cute, HUGE, white, navy, and red tote bag from The Christmas Tree Shop and we keep four beach towels, sunscreen, bug spray, goggles, nose plugs, arm floaties, swim diapers, and a few other things in it all the time. After I wash the swim towels, I roll them up and put them right back in it. It’s their home.

    We don’t have a pool, but we have several generous friends who do. And when we go on vacation somewhere we’ll be swimming, it’s a bag that’s ready to go, no packing required.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like a HUGE bag! I use one of those huge 31 totes for our beach/pool bag — but I also use that bag for other things too so I don’t keep it stocked all the time. I do, however, keep all our pool stuff together in the closet in our mudroom. All our towels, swimming suits, sunscreen, floaties, pool toys, etc. are right there. This way, when we set up our plastic pool in the driveway, we have instant access to all our pool stuff right in the mudroom. And if we’re going to someone else’s pool, I just load it all up in a bag.

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  18. Kristen

    05/06/2015

    I love this. It’s one of those things that needs to be done in this house NOW. With 2 kids under 5, I feel like I’m always running around grabbing things and inevitably forgetting things. Taking a towel is a great idea, I think I’ll start keeping a few old ones in the car too. And since we now live so close to some great parks, I know we’ll be using this bag a lot! I also think that bag is super cute! 🙂 Thanks for a great post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Do it!

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  19. Amy

    05/06/2015

    I love that cute bag too! And that stroller looks so fun!
    I have a mass bag. Every Sunday I was always running around trying to gather this and that and one day it came to me to always have a bag ready. It works really well because the toys and books I pack are always ‘new’ to them because they only see them once a week!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Amy — the bag is very “heavy duty” so it won’t easily tear or rip. Also, the Joovy stroller is AMAZING!

    We also have small church bags for Nora and Simon with the essentials. I make sure they are all packed and ready to go every saturday night to save us valuable time on Sunday morning!

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  20. The Busy Brunette

    05/06/2015

    What a great idea! I definitely need to create something like this, or else my purse becomes a “catch all.” Thanks for the great tips!

    “The Busy Brunette”
    http://thebusybrunette.blogspot.com/

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  21. Kimberley

    05/06/2015

    I really like this idea! Need to implement this ASAP…by the way, that is a really cute bag! Where did you get if from?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Kimberley…. unfortunately, I honestly have no recollection of where this bag came from. I’m fairly confident I got it in college and I believe it was gifted to me. Sorry!

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  22. Julie@frugallyblonde.com

    05/06/2015

    This is a great idea! When my kiddo was younger it seemed like we would just get to the park and realize we left something. I can’t wait for school to be out so we can head back to the park this summer. We will have to try the bag idea.

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  23. Angie

    05/06/2015

    I love this idea! Even though we don’t live within walking distance to a park we have 3 fantastic parks within 15 minutes of our house, so I will be packing a “going to the park” bag this week so it will be ready anytime we want to go.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, for sure! A ‘going to the park’ bag could easily be thrown in the car for longer trips as well!

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