13 Chicago moms reveal what’s really in their purses

My purse is the size of a small toddler. At all times, it needs to hold three emergency snacks, three backup emergency snacks, a small toy collection, my own essentials (if they fit), and in case of a total and utter meltdown, possibly even the toddler himself, much like a mama kangaroo with her pouch. 

Moms’ purses hold their whole life, because at times, our life or the life of someone we love, could depend on it. Ever been in a Target aisle with a toddler on an “off” day? You might think, well, there’s a snack aisle, let’s not get dramatic. But you don’t know dramatic until a toddler, who has glued himself to a life-sized Elmo, has decided that you are his mortal enemy because you made the mistake of calling Elmo a cartoon. LIFE AND DEATH. At that moment, those snacks in aisle eight are irrelevant and the year-old lollipop in your emergency stash will save your life. 

So yes, our purses are the gatekeepers of our happiness, and what you do or do not have inside them could make or break any moment that you’re brave enough to exit your home with small children in tow. 

Here are the essentials of 13 Chicago mamas who seem to hold the secrets on how to effortlessly keep their ish together. 

Julianna Zobrist – @juliannazobrist 

These are the essentials I keep in my Anya Hindmarch handbag:

A notebook and colorful sharpies ALWAYS. If there is one thing that I have an obnoxious overabundance of, it is notebooks. I am an incessant note taker and am constantly writing new song ideas or thoughts throughout my day. The obvious additional bonus to keeping paper handy is for competitive tic-tac-toe tournaments with my kids. 

I am slightly paranoid about having clean, fresh pits. Thus, my Donna Karan deodorant is a lifeline. If you didn’t think deodorant could be an investment, think again, but my paranoia keeps justifying the expense. And let’s be honest, having three kids and flying once a week begs for on-the-spot freshness. #momlife 

If you have ever met me in person, my skin leans toward a pinky translucent tone which requires liberal SPF all day, every day. My love affair is with ColoreScience Sunforgettable spf 30 which comes in a perfect to-go size. Bond No. 9 is my fragrance of choice but because airports steal liquids, I travel with the miniature samples. And they’re free so, bonus! 

Because I travel for work and am also on the road with our three kids for eight months out of the year, I always fly with a big breathable scarf. My favorite styles are from Alexander McQueen because they are super light and thin, so if my baby girl falls asleep I can lay it over her car seat on the airplane. But if I’m traveling by myself I put it over my face because drool ain’t cute. 

Oversized pink sunglasses because pink matches everything and … Gucci!

NARS lip gloss

MAC Lipglass

Hafsa Rana – @happilyhafsa

The most important item in my purse is the Snickers bar because let’s be honest, if mama or babies are having a hangry meltdown, no amount of hand sanitizer will make a difference.

I don’t leave home without:

My Coach wallet

Rayban shades

Mac Studio Fix Powder

Chloe Perfume Rollerball

Tarte Lippue

Sewing kit

Listerine Breath Strips

Car keys

Vanicream moisturizer

Diaper changing kit

Hand sanitizer

Notebook and pen

Not pictured: a ton of random receipts and an emergency pad.

Keyonda Campbell Pyles – @arealurbanmom

I’ve learned that moms need a random snack, debit cards for last minute purchases, and tons of lipstick and gum in their purse at all times! Make that a crossbody purse or backpack and it’s even better! 

Southwest Airlines peanut pack

Trident gum

A pen


Lip gloss

Phone charger

Brett Firdman – @hertastylife

A few things I’m never without: 

My phone (Of course!) — It’s my lifeline to the world and being a blogger it’s what I use for my daily captures, responding to my comments and DM’s, and how I communicate with brands and partners while I’m on-the-go. 

Hand cream and lip balm — I’m addicted to both. You will never find me without a lip balm (or ten) and a nice, quality hand cream. 

Blake’s things — I always find cute, random things for Blake, my 9-month-old, in my bag. Today it was his Sophie teething toy and a pacifier (which he’s weaning off of). A mom’s space is never sacred, it is always infiltrated by baby! 

Sunglasses — I’m a sunglasses hoarder and always have a backup pair in my bag. 

Wisp mini toothbrushes — I’m really nuts about brushing my teeth and love keeping a pack of Wisps in my bag to use after lunches or whenever I need to freshen up. 

Snacks — Always gotta have something to munch on. I’m loving these GG Scandinavian Crisps lately. They’re awesome with peanut butter or topped with a little cream cheese. 

Makeup — I feel like I have a mini cosmetics store in my purse. Rooting through today I found two Kylie lip kits, liquid eyeliner, a brow brush and a pack of false eyelashes! Haha! One can never be unprepared for a glam moment, right? 

Amanda Ivanelli – @aivanelli

After years of carrying around large diaper bags (with everything but the kitchen sink), I have finally realized less is more for me! Maybe it’s because I’m out of the diaper phase, but I truly need less to carry on a daily basis. 

I have three boys so sanitizer is a must. Honest brand is my go-to. The only thing not pictured are Clif kid ZBars (I always have three on me at all times.) because my kids were eating them on our way out the door! 

The crossbody makes things easier for a mom who needs her hands, plus this bag has a compartment in the back for quick access to your phone.

Sanem D’Angelo – @shopsanems

The weight of my Rebecca Minkoff purse is made up of my essentials. Here are some of them:

Wipes and a diaper or two for my son, Henry. 

A wooden Brio train and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Most of the time it’s Donatello. 

My cell phone charger

AirPods because this #momboss has to talk hands-free.

My fave MAC lipstick in Cherish

Business cards

Healthy snacks that my sons and I can munch on.

Grape-flavored gum

Oh, and my eyelash brush. Yes, an eyelash brush.

Tali Kogan – @talikogan

As a stylist and mama of two, using a hands-free bag is a MUST for me! Since I’m always on the go, I try to keep healthy snacks, crayons and paper on hand for the kids. These essentials help keep the kids happy and avoid any meltdowns while out and about. Happy kids = happy mama! 

I never leave home without my portable charger. I’m on my phone non-stop for work so it’s a must! 

Red lipstick is always in my bag, too. Even if I don’t have time for a full face there’s nothing a little lipstick can’t do! Keeping lipstick in my bag has saved the day so many times. 

I’m obsessed with Le Labo products and always keep the solid perfume in my bag for when I need a little refresh. This has come in handy when I don’t have much time between working out and meetings, or picking up my kids. 

Thu Heintz – @tandeminlove

I’ll never leave the house without my essentials: wallet, phone, lipgloss and sunnies! I’m quite pragmatic and try to keep things simple. 

My must haves for the kiddos? Snacks, a diaper changer, hair clips and coins. Yes, coins! you never want to be caught empty handed at a water fountain; we all like to make our wishes come true! 

Christina Karin – @christinakarin

My purse is a veritable treasure trove of essentials — minus the crumbs, of course.  

Every woman can relate to having a tube of her favorite lipstick in her bag. My signature color is a pick-me-up red for those long, exhausting days. It’s appropriately called Kiss of Life, and it’s by Rimmel London and Kate Moss.  

Obviously as a mom-on-the-move I have a stray Lego block, hair bow and Hot Wheels car from my son and daughter’s collection. 

My summer sunnies are white frames by Quay and I always have a sweet tooth, so Sugarfina Sour Lips come to the rescue. 

And because, as we know, it’s the little things in life that matter, like having a mini candy break while driving in the car. 

Lauren Sebastian – @bigblondehair

My massive purse can pretty much be categorized into three sections: Celeb-inspired, cosmetics and kids. 

Currently, my can’t-leave-at-home celeb items include my forever favorite Porsche Design aviator sunglasses seen on everyone from the Kardashians to the Real Housewives, Stassi Schroeder’s fave Kopari facial toner and Priscilla x Rincon Bella Matte Liquid Lipstick.

My other cosmetics are all tasked with making me look less exhausted in a hurry. I have LaRoche Posay under eye corrector, Givenchy Le Rouge Perfecto Lip Balm, a Rimmel lip liner and a wet dry brush from Levato Salon. 

For the kiddos, I tote anything that stops a meltdown in a hurry. GoGo SqueeZ pouches, a Munchkin weighted sippy cup, the inevitable Hot Wheels car that somehow ends up everywhere from my washing machine to my bag, and LaRoche-Posay sunblock for sunny days!

Natalia Podvalny – @bhealthyyou

Anyone who’s ever held my bag has always said “OMG, why is your bag so heavy?” My response has always been: “It’s not because my wallet is full of cash!” 

The reality is, this mama of three kiddos needs to have all of her essentials handy at all times. Starting with homeopathic medicine for the kids to get a head start on any early symptoms to tampons and pads for those unpredictable moments. I also always have snack bars and lollipops to curb the onset of hunger that usually occurs as soon as we leave the house.

Ashley Viviani – @juliet1313

This is my go-to bag every day when I’m with my son Gage. It’s an Hermes Jypsiere Crossbody Bag, easy for hands-free days! 

Essentials I keep in my bag at all times: 

My wallet

Makeup bag 

Natura Bisse S.O.S Instant Rescue — This is my go-to if my son bumps his head or gets a bruise somewhere. I put this on and it instantly goes away in a couple of days.

Carmex — My lips are addicted.Wubbanub pacifier — Any animal will do when Gage is upset or trying to fall asleep.

Lightning McQueen Race Car — Can’t leave home without some sort of car.

Kubotan and Mace –Both self defense “weapons” in case I’m by myself somewhere with my son. I keep them in my pockets so I can have easy access to them in case I need to protect us.

And I never leave home without my Johnson and Johnson Wet Wipes. I’m always wiping Gage’s hands and face after we go somewhere.

Mary Magee

As the grandma to Max, Keira, Alex, Grayson and Michael, I got reading glasses so I could read them their favorite stories! My keys hold my Core Power card and Fruitful Yield card, my two most-visited places. My purse looks a little different now than it did when my kids were young. It’s nice to not be filled to the brim with diapers, wipes and baby toys anymore! 

I also carry: Eucerin for dry skin

Burt’s Bees for my lips

Mascara (It’s the only makeup I wear.)

Eye drops for allergies

Toys that my grandkids hide inside!

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