Admit it. You read Us magazine. (And if you don’t, why? Oh, right…you’re probably a more self-actualized person than I am.) They have a page every week called, “What’s in My Bag?” and you see a star’s purse all tumbled out with things like mascaras and a debit card splayed around. They never seem to show the Xanax and spare pair of control-tops, but whatever. I’ll tell you what’s in my model-mom bag, because I seem to be that person who has some certain thingy that comes in really handy.
I actually tend to carry diaper bags. Not the seafoam-green kind with little chicks on them; I opt for the more fashion-forward utilitarian types. If you spend much time walking around New York, you’ll observe that people tend to carry bags. Pretty substantial bags. Really cute little purse? Out-of-towner. Think of all the little handy things you keep in your car. Because New Yorkers walk and use public transportation pretty much always, all of those handy items get lugged around in bags. (Seriously, even the guys are always carrying a backpack or something.) I like diaper bags because they are roomy and have a ton of inner pockets. I have a variety that I like to switch up; a couple of Kate Spades (including the one I received from my college BFF back in 1998 for my first baby shower), a Brooklyn Industries messenger bag (not actually a diaper bag, but we used it as one) and my current model, a Danzo I snagged on Gilt for less than half of retail. This bag has pockets. And they are clear. CLEAR! Genius.
Here are the essentials:
Wipes. I don’t care how old your kid is, there will be a smudge of something somewhere. You can transition to those adult Wet-Ones type wipes if your child would be mortified if you whipped out a packet of Huggies wipes. Fortunately, we’re not there yet.
Chap-stick or similar. I’m a fan of Kiehl’s lip balm…I usually don’t do anything to my daughter’s lips, but during those times of the year when they are so dry, I like to keep them from cracking.
A red plastic folder with a bunch of those clear-plastic slide-in sheaths for all of the paperwork we need. I have photocopies of the permit, birth certificate, social security card, and bank account paperwork. (Now that I write this, I realize you could totally steal my daughter’s identity. DON’T. You need this stuff for many photoshoots and ALL on-camera work.) I also have a book of vouchers in there. I chose a red folder because it’s easy to spot. I also have a zipper-pocket in there just for receipts.
Pictures. I keep these in a sheath in the red folder as well. I have a few 5x7s with our agency, stats, and contact info on the back; and an 8x10 or two with her on-camera resume stapled to the back. Don’t carry too many of these around at once. I’m almost never asked to leave them at go-sees or auditions, and if you have all the stats on the back, you’re going to end up with outdated information before you go through them all.
Medical and first aid supplies. I always carry my own Excedrin and Benadryl, because I get allergy/sinus migraines from time-to-time and I don’t want to be caught without. Recently, I started carrying a bottle of children’s ibuprofen as well, because my daughter got headachey and feverish at the end of a shoot and a mom who happens to be a pediatric specialist (shout out!!!) let me bum some from her stash…which made for a much more comfortable ride home for my daughter. I also keep some Band-Aids on hand – not because we’ve ever actually needed a Band-Aid, but if you have a young child you know they can be somewhat magical.
Hair do-dads. My daughter has long hair that gets a rotten case of car-seat head after a long ride, so I always need a brush to tame that upon arrival. I keep some elastics as well, in case I need a quick pony tail or side braid to get her hair back (usually at on-camera auditions). Keep it simple. You don’t need any frilly bows or headbands. My babysitter keeps a little spray bottle of detangler in the bag as well – very helpful. A couple of little neutral claw-clips are good as well if you want to pin just a little hair back or off to the side. We’re growing out bangs now, so they will become an important tool for us.
Money. How to keep track of and pay for expenses is a subject for an entertainment accountant. Simply, though, on a day-to-day basis, you will need small cash for tips at parking garages or tips for small purchases like Starbucks.
Metro-cards. If you use a lot of public transportation, keep two on hand at all times. I have ended up several times with a stupid useless balance or a card that just won’t work despite multiple swipes. If you need to rush and can’t wait for another train or bus, have those handy. Recently, there have been lots of articles and tips about how much money to put on the card so you don’t end up with those useless balances.
Snacks and drinks. You need CLEAN, dry snacks, like plain goldfish and pretzels, to avoid any staining of clothes or hands or faces. Water is perfect, but if your kid is like my daughter and not a water person, get some clear juices like flavored waters or those colorless Capri-Suns. If your kid only drinks whole-vegan- raw kale/mango/beet juice, I cannot help you on this one. Throw in a couple of lollipops or a box of tic-tacs or some little treat to use as motivation or pick-me-up if necessary. Have extra, because the other kids at the shoot will want some, too.
Lunch for picky eaters. My daughter is a picky eater. (Seriously, I don’t really understand why…my other kids weren’t at that age.) See above about clean foods. I’ll bring along a couple of simple things I know she will eat in case the lunch at a shoot is out of her tolerability range.
Spare clothes. You never know. I’ve whittled this down as my daughter has gotten older and I pretty much just keep socks and underwear at this point.
Chargers. Notice I say chargerS. You will always need to charge your phone and ipad at the same time. I don’t know why that happens, but it does. Take a small piece of paper and put your kid’s name, cell #, and agency. Then affix that paper with a long piece of tape (so the tape folds over and covers the whole paper) to your cord. Also label the little power block. So many people leave chargers at studios that this little step may actually save you the need to buy a new one. Some nice mom or production person may just save it and contact you or your agency about it.
Toys and books your kid never sees except for at shoots. I keep a baggie of crayons and plain paper as well as a few art-type toys that only come out at shoots. I find that plain paper is usually more satisfying and fun for more kids than coloring books. It’s also way cheaper. A pack of blank index cards has also known to be endlessly entertaining. I avoid markers because of staining and markers will often freak out wardrobe people at the mere mention. Older kids like little games like Uno and other travel-sized things. A couple of action figures (or trolls, or ponies, or princesses) are fun, too.
Tablets are also a must. If you are a “no electronics” parent, realize your kid will be sitting there, shoulder-to-shoulder glued to another kid and his tablet. I’m glad you’re a no electronics parent, really, that’s great…but it’s probably not realistic in 2015 in the child performer industry. You can always be screen-free at home and in the car. (But…I kind of think the day you get stuck in the Lincoln Tunnel for three hours you may wish you had that tablet.) Feel free to choose that battle if you want to, but I’m out.
Optional items: I’ve never seen such happy moms as when I pulled out a power strip at Petite Parade. A zillion moms and two outlets? See above: chargers. And, let’s be honest here, no one ever regretted having a cork screw.
What did I leave out? I’ve written this in about thirty 2-minute segments, so I’ve probably forgotten something really important. Let me know here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or hit up my email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.
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